The holidays are near so time to think about the turkey! No one knows exactly how the turkey earned it’s place of honor at the holiday table but it’s here to stay. Not everyone eats turkey during the holidays, but most people do. There are things to consider however when deciding which bird is right for you.
Frozen Turkey – frozen turkeys are perfectly fine. A lot of them, such as Butterball, are already brined. Check your label before brining the turkey. Do make sure you buy your frozen turkey well in advance. They take 4-6 days to thaw in the refrigerator and the refrigerator is the safest way to thaw. The frozen turkey is the most popular and sold in the U.S.
Fresh Turkey: fresh turkeys are wonderful but you do not want to buy it too far in advance but you will want to reserve one in advance if buying it from the grocery store. You can order fresh turkeys too. Ordering them will probably costs you a more than the grocery store. When buying a fresh turkey you will want to brine it. Turkeys tend to be dry unless brined. Brining is similar to marinating, but is primarily focused on moistening the meat. Here are a couple of brine recipes:
Smoked Turkey: Smoked turkey is delicious, moist, and flavorful. You can order turkeys that are smoked, which will arrive a couple days prior to the holiday. You can store it in the refrigerator and all you have to do is heat it up. They are naturally smoked the old fashioned way. I discovered the smoked turkey several years ago. After that first time, I decided I would always order a smoked turkey. No more thawing for a week and roasting a bird for 3-4 hours for me. A smoked turkey – usually takes 45 minutes to heat up. Ordering a smoked turkey will cost a more than your grocery store frozen turkey.
This is my favorite smoked turkey I used to order every year:
If you do decide to cook your turkey, you have several options. Roasting is the most common. Fried turkey has also become very popular. If you fry a turkey please take great precautions and follow all directions exactly. There are lots of fires related to turkey fryers.
Roasting the Turkey: It’s recommended not to stuff the bird. Ignore the pop out timer’s that come with the turkey! Use a thermometer. Coat the outside of the skin with butter or oil before roasting. Do add aromatics to the cavity – such as lemon halves, rosemary, thyme, onion, carrot, celery. Make sure you remove the neck, giblets etc if present. I must confess I have forgotten that step myself at least twice. Roasting pans with a rack are recommended. Plan accordingly, turkey takes a while to cook depending on size and you have other dishes you probably need to bake too. I have two ovens and have lots of dishes that I need all of my oven space for. That’s another reason I went to the smoked turkey, because it only requires 45 minutes of oven time. That’s a BIG time saver!
Here’s a look at cooking times:
Turkey Cooking Times – Unstuffed
| 8 to 12
|| 2-1/2 to 3-1/2
| 12 to 16
|| 3-1/2 to 4
| 16 to 20
|| 4 to 4-1/2
| 20 to 26
|| 4-1/2 to 5-1/2
Start the oven on a hot higher temperature when roasting, then lower for the remainder of cooking. Starting at 475 degrees for 30 minutes helps crisp the skin. Turn the heat down to 350 for the remainder of cooking. Let the turkey rest at least 15 minutes after it comes out of the oven before carving.
Thanksgiving Recipes: Southern Thanksgiving Recipe Collection
- Wild turkeys are native to North America and are only found on this continent
- Wild turkeys can fly, domestic turkeys cannot
- A baby turkey is called a poult