3 Non-Traditional Ways to Prepare Your Holiday Turkey
By Danial Williams
With the holidays here it is time to make that turkey dinner. We all have that traditional turkey recipe that we’ve done for generations and swear it is the best ever. In our house we have always baked our turkey with a few seasonings, some butter and salt and pepper. It is how my father’s grandmother did it and so it is how we do it, or at least it is how we did it. A few years ago, I started taking over the cooking of the turkey. I still do the basics, but I add onions, garlic, some rub, and a ton of butter.
No matter how you make your bird the key is that everyone around you loves it. If you are looking for a new way to prepare the holiday turkey, here are 3 non-traditional (but should be) ways to do it.
This is one of my favorite things to do with a turkey. Who doesn’t love deep fried food. I have many fond memories of the first time I had this dish. I went camping at a KOA camp with my uncle Chris and his family. One of the friends that came with us was in charge of deep frying the turkey and he took his job seriously. He brought 2 turkeys for each night we were going to be camping. I was a bit skeptical of how they would turn out but after that first bite I was hooked. It was crispy outside while juicy on the inside. Everyone sat with anticipation for this glorious deep fried creation to be ready.
This is a variation of that original deep fried turkey I had. The great part is you could season it just about any way you want. The sky is the limit.
3 gallons peanut oil for frying, or as needed
1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
1/4 cup Creole seasoning
1 white onion
In a large stockpot or turkey fryer, heat oil to 400 degrees F. Be sure to leave room for the turkey, or the oil will spill over.
***** Side Note *****
How to determine the amount of oil you need:
The easiest way I've found to determine the amount of oil you need is to place the turkey into the fryer and fill with water until the turkey is just covered. Remove turkey and allow to drain, pat dry with paper towels as well. Make note of the level of water in the fryer. Discard water and dry thoroughly. Fill frying vessel with oil to the level as noted above. This should help in preventing hot oil spillovers.
***** End Side Note *****
Layer a large platter with food-safe paper bags. Rinse turkey, and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Rub Creole seasoning over turkey inside and out. Make sure the hole in the neck is open at least 2 inches so the oil can flow freely through the bird. Place the whole onion and turkey in drain basket. The turkey should be placed in basket neck end first. Slowly lower basket into hot oil to completely cover turkey. Maintain the temperature of the oil at 350 degrees F, and cook turkey for 3 1/2 minutes per pound, about 45 minutes. Carefully remove basket from oil and drain turkey. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; the internal temperature must be 180 degrees F. Finish draining turkey on the prepared platter.
Grilled Whole Turkey
Grilled turkey is a great crowd pleaser. That taste of fire and char mixed with spices brings this dish together. The first time we did this recipe I was living in Las Vegas and working at Mandalay Bay. A group of Chefs got together for a small Thanksgiving get together to celebrate early since we would all be working on Thanksgiving. The oven at the house we were in decided to break that morning and everyone had already arrived. While trying to find a fix someone suggested we just throw it on the grill. With a house full of Chefs we quickly adjusted our plans and came up with this gem of a turkey.
12 pounds whole turkey
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
Prepare an outdoor grill for indirect medium heat, and lightly oil grate. Rinse turkey, and pat dry. Place turkey breast side down on the prepared grill. Sear turkey on both sides until skin is golden to dark brown. In a large roasting pan, mix the water, bouillon powder, garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning, parsley, and paprika. Place turkey breast side down in the roasting pan. Scoop the pan mixture over the turkey. Cover tightly with foil and place on grill. Grill 3 to 4 hours, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180F. Remove turkey from grill and let stand 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
This recipe comes from a love to smoke just about everything. After a friend purchased a new smoker and invited me over for a week to play with his new toy we started smoking just about every type of meat and veggie there was to try. We started off with a brisket as anyone would. After the brisket we went on to pork shoulder, then chicken thighs and on to veggies. We ran out of things to smoke when we realized there was a turkey in the freezer just begging to be smoked. We thawed it out under cold running water for hours while we searched the internet for a good recipe. We found several different ones that sounded like they could be good but none of them seemed to be right for us, so we decided to mash a couple of them together and tweaked it to fit what we were looking for. What we were left with was this amazing recipe with so much great flavor. We brined ours for 1 day and did not let it dry for 24 hours. It was still really good, but we started our perfecting of this one. We smoked probably 10 turkeys before we found the perfect way to do it.
1 turkey 8 to 22 lbs., fresh or completely thawed
Sweet Pickle Brine (recipe to follow)
Sweet Pickle Brine:
1 gal. water
2 1/2 cups salt, rock, pickling or canning salts are recommended
1/3 cup of light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Liquid garlic
1 oz. pickling spices
Mix well. You may need to adjust the amounts depending on the size of your bird. This recipe should suit you fine for an 8 to 12 lb. turkey.
Rinse turkey thoroughly with cold water, drain and pat dry. Prepare sweet pickle brine. Brine turkey according to the following schedule, 8 to 12 lb. bird 3 days, 13 to 16 lb. bird 4 days, 17 to 22 lb. bird 5 days. Remove from brine; rinse thoroughly in cold water and pat dry. Allow to dry in refrigerator for 24 hours. Lock wings behind back and tie legs and tail together. Baste turkey with maple syrup before putting in smoker and every 2 hours while smoking. Position turkey on cooking grill. Smoke cook until done. The best way to determine doneness is to insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey (the breast) the internal temperature should read 180 degrees F.
Smoking food is more an art than a science; this recipe is not intended for the novice. A lot of factors go into determining the cooking time for a particular food when smoking.
Cool turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving to enhance the smoked flavor or serve the turkey right away if you wish. It really is up to you.
After you have tried these recipes let us know what you think. Oh, and post pictures and tag #smokinswinebbqsauce and @smokinswinebbqsauce on both Instagram and Facebook. We would love to see what you’ve done.