It’s almost time to go out and get that turkey and create a wonderful feast for your family to enjoy! It used to be that there was really only one way to cook the bird and that was roasting in the oven. Now, some have tried incorporating other cooking methods and there are even special fryers for doing so. The three most common methods are still roasting, frying and smoking and today I want to share some tips for each one.
Tips for Cooking a Turkey Three Ways-Roasting, Frying and Smoking
General cooking tips for turkey:
Make sure the bird is fully and completely thawed out. Not only is this vital for food safety, but it speeds up cooking time. With the frying method, it can actually be dangerous if the bird is not thawed completely. Think of the last time you accidentally splashed some hot oil with water. Imagine that on a larger scale!
Thawing the bird is easy. Just place it in the fridge for a couple of days, depending on the size of your turkey. Some smaller turkeys can be thawed overnight. Make sure to remove the neck and giblets if they are included. Set them in the pan if roasting.
Make sure your turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit no matter what cooking method you use. The best way to check this is with a meat thermometer just on the inside of the drumstick near the breast where the meat is thickest.
Tips for roasting:
Skip stuffing the bird. It can lead to the turkey having uneven cooking and even issues with food poisoning if you are not careful. Cook it in the over with the bird near the end.
Before adding your seasonings, rub the bird down with clarified butter or olive oil. This will help the seasoning stick as well as give your turkey a crispy outside and golden look.
Cook at an even temperature of about 325 degrees. Your turkey will take about 4 hours for a 14-16 lb bird. Make sure to baste your turkey throughout the cooking and keep it covered to keep moisture in.
Tips for Frying:
Fill oil to the line on your turkey fryer and heat to 375 Degrees. If your fryer doesn’t have a fill line, follow the instructions from the manufacturer. You want an oil that can withstand high temperatures. Generally this includes such varieties as peanut oil and canola oil.
Make sure to remove any truss that came on the bird. Who wants to eat plastic? This also goes for the plastic temperature pop-up timer as well.
If you need to, clip the wing tips so your bird fits well without being too tight. You want the oil to be able to circulate. Cooking time is generally 3 minutes per pound of turkey. A 15 pound turkey would take 45 minutes.
Never leave your fryer unattended. Allow the oil to cool before touching or moving it.
Tips for smoking:
Preheat your smoker to a temperature of 240 degrees. Make sure your smoker is big enough for the bird you want to cook.
Smoking is a long term cooking process. It is slower than roasting and much slower than frying. You will need about 35 minutes of time per pound. This means if your bird is 15 lbs, plan on spending about 9-10 hours cooking it. Don’t go for a turkey much bigger than this as it can not only take longer, but also has to potential to be put in the temperature danger zone too long. If you are feeding a large crowd, do 2 smaller turkeys.
Choose wood chips that will add to the flavor. Usually something sweet like cherry wood is excellent.
As stated before, it is vital that you check the temperature of your bird and make sure it is at 165 Degrees F. Also, when checking the temperature, make sure you aren’t hitting bone or you may get a false reading.
What method do you plan on using to cook your turkey? Do you have any tips for cooking a turkey? Let me know in the comments!