Its become a yearly tradition that some of us here discuss Thanksgiving food and preparation. So for those of you who want to share ideas, tips, recipes, this is a great place. Also, for those of you who have questions, fear not... don't be afraid to ask questions. This is a good place to come and ask questions to help make a great Thanksgiving meal.
My first bit of input as I have always started... your turkey does not need to be dry and flavorless. While it requires some added time and preparation, there are a few ways to make a great turkey.
Tip #1... brine the turkey. Simply put, this means soaking your turkey in some salt/sugar/spice bath for up to 48 hours. The solution can be as simple as water, Kosher salt and sugar. I've used a few recipes that call for a variety of spices, juices (cider), veggies, etc. Google search "Brine Recipe" and find something that you're comfortable with. You can brine the turkey in a clean, 5 gallon bucket. I actually put the turkey in a heavy duty ziploc bag, then store it in a large bucket and put it in the fridge. If you lack the fridge space, you can do this in a cooler, too... just make sure you're adding ice occasionally.
I've been brining for a few years now and won't go back.
Tip #2... A few simple ways to add flavor... place butter between the skin and the meat of the turkey. Carefully slide your hands between the skin layer and the meat as you want to be able to replace the skin and not burn/dry out the mean.You're really just seperating the skin without removing it. You can place pats of butter between the skin and meat in a few spots. ... Add aromatic fruits and veggies. You can do this between the skin and meat or just in the roasting pan. Onions, apples, oranges, lemons, etc, all add flavor to the turkey. If you don't stuff the turkey with stuffing instead add the aromatic fruits and veggies there, otherwise just throw them in the roasting pan.
Tip #3... if you're really adventurous, inject the turkey. They make syringes with heavy gauge needles that you literally can inject various flavor/liquid combos. Again, lots of recipes are out there and its not that difficult.
Finally, especially if you are limited with oven space, I recommend using a grill. You can either use a gas or charcoal grill. Use indirect heating and, again, if you don't know where to start, either ask here or google search. But we usually grill one bird and do a second one on the grill.
Also, if you have a frozen bird, better figure out when you need to start defrosting it, which can take a few days and you want to do in the fridge.
Anyhow, its always fun to see what people here have to add and with it being the Sunday before the holiday, I thought I'd get the ball rolling.