Published: November 20, 2018

    3 Incredibly Delicious Ways to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey

    Turkey is an integral part of the Thanksgiving feast, usually roasted in the oven until a rich golden brown. While roasting is the traditional method of preparing turkey, it’s far from the only way to cook the Thanksgiving bird. This year, why not take a different approach and smoke, brine, or even deep-fry your turkey?

    Deep Fried Turkey

    Deep-fried turkey is popular because the bird cooks faster than when it’s roasted and it tastes great. On the downside, deep-frying isn’t exactly the healthiest cooking method.

    We recommend using a proper turkey fryer rather than a stock pot filled with oil, which can present a serious fire and burn hazard. A turkey fryer reduces these risks, although only when used correctly and carefully monitored during the cooking process and as it cools.

    To fry a turkey, first wash the bird with filtered water (chlorine and other residual chemicals found in tap water can give the bird an unpleasant taste). Pat the bird dry and rub with salt, pepper, and your favorite dry rub.

    Heat peanut oil in a turkey fryer until it reaches a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fully submerge the turkey in the oil and fry for three minutes per pound of bird, plus an additional five minutes. Remove from the fryer and drain on paper towels.

    Smoked Cola Turkey

    Smoked turkey takes longer then roasting or deep-frying, but the moist meat and smoky flavor makes the wait worthwhile. Smoking can leave turkey meat looking a little pink even when it’s fully cooked. That’s fine, as long as the internal temperature of the bird is 180 Fahrenheit.

    To smoke a turkey, choose your favorite wood chips and preheat the smoker to 225 to 250 degrees. Rinse the turkey with filtered water and pat dry.

    Sprinkle the bird with two tablespoons seasoning salt and place in a disposable roasting pan. Fill the body cavity with the following:

    • 4 crushed garlic cloves
    • ½ cup butter
    • 2 12-ounce cans of cola
    • 1 quartered apple
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper.

    Cover loosely with foil and smoke for ten hours or until the bird’s internal temperature reaches 180. Baste the bird with juices from the bottom of the pan every two to three hours.

    Brined Turkey

    Brining allows turkey to absorb extra flavors and moisture before roasting for tastier, more succulent meat. You’ll need plenty of room in the fridge to brine a turkey, as the bird needs to soak in the brine for up to a day.

    To create a brine for a 14 to 16-pound turkey, combine the following in a saucepan:

    • 2 cups kosher salt
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 5 fresh sage leave
    • 1 fresh thyme sprig
    • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
    • 2 quarts filtered water

    Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar and salt has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and add 2 quarts cold filtered water to bring the brine to room temperature.

    Rinse the turkey with filtered water and pat dry. Place the turkey in a turkey-sized roasting bag placed inside a second bag. Carefully pour the brine into the bag. Squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag, seal, and turn to coat the turkey. Place in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally.

    To cook, drain and discard the brine. Rinse the bird with filtered water, pat dry, and tie the drumsticks together.

    In a food processor process the following ingredients until smooth:

    • 2 cups softened butter
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • 1 cup packed fresh parsley sprigs
    • ⅓ sup fresh sage leaves
    • ¼ cup fresh thyme leave
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon pepper

    Loosen the turkey’s skin with your fingers and rub half the processed butter mixture under the skin. Secure the loose skin to the underside of the turkey breast with toothpicks, and rub the remaining butter mixture on the surface of the skin.

    Roast the bird breast-side up at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and roast for 2 ¼ to 3 ¾ hours, or until your thermometer reads 180 degrees. Baste occasionally. If the skin browns too fast, you can loosely cover the bird with foil.

    Why Filtered Water?

    You may have noticed we make a point of using filtered water when cooking turkey, and there’s a very good reason for that. Professional chefs increasingly demand filtered water for their kitchens because they understand chlorine and other chemicals commonly found in tap water give food an unpleasant taste. This may not be apparent when cooking spicy food or hearty stews, but can be really noticeable when it affects turkey’s subtle flavor. Pelican Water’s Whole House Filters remove chlorine and other contaminants from your water for tastier food and cleaner water.