Being the age of a grandpa has its advantages aside from the joys of grandchildren. Having participated in over 60 Thanksgiving family feasts, and preparing or helping to prepare over 38 of them myself — some traditional, some not so very; some large parties of 40+, some not so large — I’ve had the culinary pleasure of tasting many a turkey. And the heart and soul of a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey itself. So we are here to help you through finding the perfect recipe for your Thanksgiving Dinner Turkey.
Through the years I’ve also learned that the key to hosting a successful Thanksgiving dinner is advance planning. But even if you are having your meal catered, you need to reserve your order well in advance. A catered Thanksgiving Dinner in my house is almost sacrilegious — missing out on all the fun of having all members of the family helping to prepare the feast is what many consider the best part of the family and friend gathering. So, no matter which way your family decides to go — please plan ahead.
First decision — frozen or fresh? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Frozen turkeys are usually cheaper per pound than fresh turkeys, but require more time to thaw out. But some people insist that fresh turkeys have a better taste than frozen ones. Me — I’m an either/or kind of guy in that I think both can be prepared equally as tasty through a variety of methods.
Believe it or not, you can cook a frozen turkey but it requires that you roast it in the oven. Roasting a frozen bird takes about 50% more time at a slower oven temperature, but it can be done to perfection. Good thing to know for those with time and schedule constraints or last-minute gathering plans. But resoundingly, both professional and home chefs agree that the best result comes from having the bird thawed prior to cooking.
Roasted Turkey is most likely what we all grew up with. It is the classic way of preparing the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner. Foodandwine.com has a classic recipe that I have used many times (with only a slight variation), and it produces the ideal succulent taste that we may all remember as our grandmothers’ best efforts. Remember to let the internal thigh temperature reach 165°F for the best tasting and safest results.
If you prefer to have your dressing as stuffing, epicurious.com offers a classic recipe with herbed stuffing and old-fashioned gravy. But here’s an additional hint for greater success: microwave the stuffing for 6 minutes on high power prior to filling the bird and roasting. When the turkey is done, immediately remove the stuffing.
If you don’t have a huge crowd for your Thanksgiving dinner, consider a fabulous recipe from MarthaStewart.com of boned, rolled and tied turkey containing both dark and light meat, crisply glazed in maple syrup, that can be cut into medallions and served with delicious compote of cranberry sauce.
Ever wanted to try a fried turkey but afraid of how it might turn out? The foodnetwork.com brings this recipe for Paula Deen’s deep-fried turkey that serves 6 to 8 people and is guaranteed to thrill your guests. It only takes 35 minutes to cook and it’s really not that hard to make!
Free up your oven for all of those wonderful side dishes and grill-roast your Holiday bird with this scrumptious recipe from bonappetit.com. This recipe requires a simple but deliciously unique apple, orange and red onion stuffing. Water-soaked woodchips will help bring a fantastic smoky flavor to the turkey. This recipe is bound to have guests singing your praises.
Not all parties are huge events. Sometimes, for smaller parties only breasts or leg quarters might suffice. Depending on your preference, any of these recipes may be used. But always bear in mind that for the best and safest results, the internal temperature of the cooked turkey should be at least 165°F.
But of all the turkeys I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, my very favorite is bacon wrapping over the entire turkey — breasts, wings, thighs and drumsticks — giving a wonderfully rich and full-bodied savory/sweet taste. This is by far the absolute favorite turkey preparation of my extended family as well. Chowhound.com offers a video to achieve this culinary orgasm of bacon-wrapped turkey with pear cider gravy!
Again, be sure the internal thigh temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit for freshly cooked as well as re-heated turkey, and also check to make sure that the juices in the bottom of the roasting pan run clear. Nothing will ruin a Thanksgiving dinner faster that an under-cooked turkey!
Always let the bird rest for 15 minutes (ideally 30 to 60 minutes) before attempting to carve. You will end up with cleaner and prettier slices making for a grander presentation. Also note that carving tips will be reviewed next week here at Z’Scoop.
Need to find a recipe more to your liking? Try these resources. There’s bound to be one that tickles your fancy.
Food.com’s 17 Ways to Cook a Turkey
Buzzfeed.com’s 19 Great Ways to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey
Thedailymeal.com’s 25 Best Turkey Recipes
Back to Home