I don’t have to make a turkey this year!
(Yipppeeee. Huzzah. Rock on!)
My mother-in-law is the lucky host for our Thanksgiving celebration this year, so I am off the hook for brining, basting and baking any sort of fowl.
BUT, I know that many of you are not off the hook and are beginning to thumb through recipes thinking what can I make this year? I was planning to give you a tutorial on how to prepare your turkey today, until I realized I have (at least) five favorite ways to cook a turkey, and they’re all entirely different. So, from my recipe box to yours, here are my five favorite turkey recipes:
1. Easy-peasy Turkey (with emphasis on the breast)
If I’m cooking turkey for just Jeff and the kids, this is my go-to recipe. It’s uber-simple and actually calls for cooking the turkey the wrong way (breast-side down) so all the juices flow into the breast part of the meat. Jeff and I really prefer the breast meat, so this ensures fall-off-the-bone tender white meat (seriously, we don’t even have to carve it sometimes…it falls off) but still contains tasty dark meat for the kiddos if they want it. Note that I turn the turkey in the last 30 minutes to ensure the breast does get a little dark on the outside.
2. Apple and Herb-Scented Brined Turkey
I’ve never met a moister (is that a word? It sounds so wrong.) turkey than this one. Alton Brown (and more than 2000 reviewers) agree…this is as foolproof a recipe as I’ve ever seen. This was the first brined turkey I’d ever made and I don’t think I’ll ever make another. It requires making the brine a day or two early and soaking the turkey overnight. But don’t be put off by the perceived fuss — read the reviews — many a first-time cook has conquered this one with no problem.
3. Honey-Smoked Turkey
This is another Alton Brown recipe (what can I say the guy knows his turkey?). It’s my go-to recipe when I want my husband to do all the work — this one cooks on the grill. Some Thanksgivings have too friggin’ much going on and it’s nice to be able to offload something to the men. (Actually, we use this recipe with roasted chicken too.) I like that it doesn’t require a smoker, just your regular grill. The smoke flavor is subtle but heavenly and the honey-glaze makes for a beautiful turkey.
4. Deep-Fried Deliciousness
I have never made this myself, but a friend made this recipe for us and it was one of the best turkeys I’ve ever had. I understand that you have to be very, very careful with the deep-fryer but whatever happens to the turkey in that chamber of darkness is magic…pure magic.
5. The Gourmet Showstopper (Bacon and Herb-Kissed Turkey with Cider Gravy)
More work and more ingredients than any of the above, but how can you say no to salty bacon, savory butter and sweet apple cider? On the rare occasion that I remember to pre-order a fresh, Heritage turkey…this is the recipe. Don’t skip the gravy…
Images: Simply Recipes, Food Network, Epicurious