Even if you favor sweet potato casserole sprinkled with miniature marshmallows, the true star of a Thanksgiving meal is the turkey. As with most traditions, there is minimal deviation from the way things have always been prepared. So, if you’ve been roasting your turkey for your Thanksgiving Day meal for more years than you care to admit, why not try one of the following alternatives to your turkey day prep?
Embrace the elements
Just because there’s a nip in the air doesn’t mean you can’t revisit the joys of cooking outside on the grill. With the assistance of a roasting pan set on the grill or a rotisserie, you can barbeque your turkey, according to Delishably.com writer Kathy Sima.
“If using a rotisserie, it’s recommended that your turkey be under 12 pounds,” according to Sima. “Your turkey should be completely thawed before cooking it in a barbecue. It's best to cook it without any stuffing inside to ensure it's cooked properly throughout.”
Another way to integrate the outdoors into your Thanksgiving Day prep is to smoke the turkey, according to the experts at LovetheOutdoors.com, who say you’ll need an outdoor smoker, wood chips to add seasoning and charcoal.
“Start by building a fire in the smoker’s coal pan. The operation itself is nearly identical to lighting a charcoal grill. When the coals are nice and hot, fill the smoker’s water pan up and put it in place,” advises LovetheOutdoors.com. “Finally, set the pre-seasoned turkey on top of the smoking grate and close the lid. Turkey tastes best when slow cooked, so keep the heat regulated at about 300 degrees.”
Since it takes a substantial amount of time to cook a turkey, depending on how much it weighs, you’ll have to regularly put in fresh water and coals. LovetheOutdoors.com also recommends using a meat thermometer to judge when the turkey is ready to go.
Take it slowly
If a crock pot is your go-to cooking utensil during the year then don’t neglect it on Thanksgiving. According to Sima, this method creates a cooked turkey that is juicy minus crispy brown skin.
“If you had a very large slow cooker and a small turkey, then you could cook it whole just like you would cook a chicken,” according to Sima. “In most cases though, you would have to chop up the turkey into parts before cooking it in a slow cooker, or cook one of those large turkey breast roasts instead.”
Seek professional assistance
If attempting a new way of preparing your turkey doesn’t appeal to you or you’re just over the whole turkey thing, Faith Durand, writer at TheKitchn.com, suggests purchasing your turkey already seasoned and cooked to perfection. According to Durand, this frees up precious cooking time for side dishes and desserts. If your guest list is small, she recommends purchasing “a smoked turkey breast from a local food truck,” an option that served her and her guests well last year.
With these alternatives to roasting, your Thanksgiving Day meal star—the turkey—will wow your guests and create a memorable and loving holiday celebration.