How to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Jane Snow gave some great tips on cooking the bird for Thanksgiving.  In case you are

Jane Snow

not familiar with Jane, she was the former food editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, and is still one of the most respected “foodies” in the area.  You can go to www.janesnowtoday.com and sign up to get her weekly cooking column e-mailed to you.  There are always great tips and recipes.  This is a sample of her weekly column.

For Friendsgiving earlier this month, I brined two turkeys and roasted one in my kettle grill and one in the oven. Hands down, everyone’s favorite was the grill-roasted bird. Oven-roasting is more convenient, though, so I’ll once again share directions for both methods. First, brining: From 1 to 3 days before Thanksgiving, stir  1 cup of salt into a half gallon of warm water to dissolve the salt. Unwrap thawed turkey and wash inside and out. Place turkey (minus neck and giblets package) in a large food-grade plastic bag or a sparkling-clean plastic cooler (my method). If using a plastic bag, reduce the salt by half.  Add the salt water and enough cold water and other liquids (orange  juice, white or red wine) to cover the turkey. Toss in a few cloves of peeled garlic and sprigs of fresh thyme, if desired. Store the bagged turkey in the refrigerator; keep the cooler-brined turkey cold by adding large chunks of ice daily (I freeze ice in quart containers). When ready to cook, wash the turkey inside and out, removing pads of fat from the edge of the body cavity. Pat dry and rub the skin with oil or butter.

Grill-roasting: Build a large (30-briquette) charcoal fire on one side of a kettle grill. Soak hickory chips in warm water. When coals have ashed over, add a couple of more briquettes and place an oblong foil pan in the bottom of the grill, on the side opposite the coals. Add a half-inch of water to the pan. Scatter a few wood chips over the coals. Place cooking grid over the coals and pan. Place turkey on a rack on the cooking grid over the foil pan. Cover with lid, making sure vents are fully open. Cook for about 3 to 31/2 hours for an 18-pound turkey, adding more briquettes and soaked wood chips and turning the turkey every 45 minutes so that both thighs get time near the coals. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh not touching the bone registers 180 degrees. Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature, tightly covered with foil, before carving.

Oven-roasting: I use the high-temperature method, which means the stuffing must be cooked separately (make a very moist stuffing, cover pan with foil and bake 30 minutes before serving). Truss the turkey if desired and place on a wire rack over a roasting pan, making sure no part of the turkey extends over the sides. Pour about a half-inch of water into the pan. Roast uncovered in a preheated, 475-degree oven for 13/4 hours for an 18-pound turkey or 2 hours for a 22-pound turkey, covering breast loosely with foil if it begins to brown too much. Remove turkey from the oven when the temperature registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone. The turkey will continue to cook as it rests. Cover tightly with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Until next time, From our Butcher Block to your Table.

 

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