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Talking Turkey: Serving the Perfect Bird

As you dream of presenting your Thanksgiving guests with a perfectly golden, moist, and flavorful turkey, have you thought about how you will prepare it?  

The method you use to cook your turkey can have a huge impact on its taste and texture.  You have to take into consideration the tools you have in your kitchen, the time you have to prepare a turkey, and the flavor you want to achieve as you decide which turkey cooking method is best for you.  Keep reading to find out what cooking methods you can use to serve the perfect bird.

1. Marinate: This method of preparation involves adding flavor to your turkey.  You can either inject your turkey with marinade or soak your turkey in a marinade.  Choose how you will get the flavor into your bird and then prepare your favorite marinade.  Marinated turkey works especially well when cooked on the grill.  Try some of these delicious marinades this year: Grilled Turkey Marinade or Cider and Chipotle Turkey Marinade

2. Brine: Brining involves soaking a turkey in a marinade with a high salt content.  This preparation method adds a lot of flavor but is time consuming.  Plan for your turkey to soak 1 hour in the brine for every pound of weight.  Need a great brine recipe?  Try this one: Turkey Brine

3. Roast:  Roasting turkey is the time-honored method of preparation.  It is simple and easy!  After the turkey has been properly thawed, the giblets removed, and the cavity seasoned with salt and pepper, fill it with aromatic vegetables and you are ready to go.  Plan on about 3 ½ hours of cooking time for the average 16 lb. turkey.  Follow these links if you need a recipe for roast turkey: Canadian Maple Roast Turkey or Super-Moist Roast Turkey

4. Rotisserie:  If you own a rotisserie, this is the perfect way to prepare your bird.  It frees up valuable oven space and yields a moist and flavorful bird with a delicately crispy skin.  Look for a hen or smaller turkey that will fit into your rotisserie and spin freely on the spit to ensure even and proper cooking.  Cooking times may vary based on your machine.  A hen will generally take 2 ½ hours to roast in a rotisserie. Try one of these rotisserie recipes: Thanksgiving Rotisserie Turkey or Easy Herb Rotisserie Turkey

5. Grill: Preparing your turkey on a gas or coal-fired grill can yield a unique and delicious flavor.  Grilled turkey recipes often call for marinating to keep the turkey moist as it cooks.  A 16 lb turkey will usually take about 2 ½ hours on the grill to be properly cooked. If you need a recipe for grilling turkey, try Easy Grilled Turkey 

6. Steam:  This method of cooking allows you to prepare the turkey without adding fat or losing nutrients.  You will need a steamer basket to hold the turkey breasts.  Trim the turkey breasts to the size you need and then marinate them.  Bring a pan of water to a gentle boil.  Set the turkey breast pieces into the steamer basket. Place the basket over the pan of water.  Put a lid on top of the steamer basket.  Plan on about 15 minutes of steaming for average turkey breasts. 

7. Smoke:  Smoking gives your turkey a distinctive flavor and color.  You will need a smoker and the appropriate amount of wood to prepare your turkey using this method.  Plan to smoke your turkey 45 minutes per pound.  Try this recipe for the Ultimate Smoked Turkey.

8. Deep-Fry: This method of turkey preparation yields a turkey that is incredibly tender and juicy, when done correctly.  However, deep-frying a turkey is dangerous.  You must take the proper precautions to be safe.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your frier.  Deep-fried turkeys are often brined before they are fried and need to be dry when they enter the deep-frier.  Plan on about 45 minutes of frying for the average-sized turkey.  Try one of these recipes for a delicious deep-fried turkey: Cajun Deep Fried Turkey or Deep-Fried Wild Turkey

9. Hot Trend: Steamed and then Roasted Turkey: This method of turkey preparation is very popular this year and is one of the healthiest ways to prepare this Thanksgiving staple.  The whole turkey is steamed in a large pot for about 30 minutes.  Then the turkey is glazed and roasted in the oven.  Follow this link to find the recipe for this trendy dish: Steamed and Roasted Turkey 

Remember, no matter how you cook it, your turkey must reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F to be safe to eat.  Use a meat thermometer to verify that your turkey is at the proper temperature and fully cooked before ending the cooking process.  Allow your turkey to rest for 30 minutes so that its delicious juices can reabsorb and then you are ready to carve and serve!


Sources:

http://busycooks.about.com/od/thanksgiving/a/differentturkeymethods.htm

http://www.policymic.com/articles/19333/thanksgiving-2012-how-to-cook-a-turkey-in-10-different-ways

http://www.pbs.org/food/features/five-safety-tips-for-deep-frying-turkey/

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