Two years ago the issue of Thanksgiving meal preparation came up in a thread and after not too long it evolved into a general sharing of ideas, tips, recipes and other important information. Several posters, I assume many of whom are male and do not consider themselves good cooks found it useful in preparing their holiday turkeys and other dishes. So I figured with less than four shopping days until Thanksgiving I'd open the floor up for discussion on Thanksgiving meal preparation.
I am a big fan of Thanksgiving. Despite our typical family disfunction and a myriad of noisy kids running indoors and driving the dogs crazy it always is a good time. I don't consider myself to be a fantastic cook but I always look forward to the meal preparation. Especially when it comes to turkeys it is another opportunity to have some fun, be creative and make some really good stuff. I shudder when I hear people say that there's no way not to make a dry, tasteless turkey. Your BCB community is here to help, whether you're the reason the Thanksgiving meal is always bland or good old Aunt Dorothy doesn't have the first clue how to make a good meal and you have to eat it anyway.
My first few cents...
- Brine the turkey. This will be the third year I've done this and while we've always had good turkeys brining the turkey takes it to another level. Brining is simple, it just involves soaking the turkey for anywhere between 12 hours to a few days in a liquid solution. Brine solutions pretty simple (many are salt water + lots of different spices but you can brine a turkey in a variety of things) and a google search will bring up a lot of options. As far as containers the 5 gallon buckets available at Home Depot are great... put in the turkey, add the solution and stick the bucket in the fridge. If you are lacking fridge space, a cooler works well, too (just got to make sure you're adding ice packs regularly. My personal preference is the heavy duty ziplock. Put the turkey in the bag, pour in the solution and refridgerate. You'll want to let the turkey drain and pat dry before cooking but what this process does is add flavor while also breaking down the turkey meat a bit, making it more tender.
- Don't be afraid to grill. If you've got limited oven space especially, utilize a gas or charcoal grill. Indirect heating is the key. Turkey on the grill often takes less time, about 10-12 minutes per pound. You cannot stuff a turkey that is going on the grill, however. And make sure if you're using a gas grill that your tank has enough fuel to last 3-4 hours.
So I look forward to people posting ideas, questions, tips, recpies, etc. If anyone wants more specific details on brining or grilling, I'd be happy to give more details. All of these processes are increadibly simple and make a HUGE difference in the overall taste of your food.