You've cooked the same old turkey for years. It's pretty good, but everything could always be better. The turkey cooking could have easier cooking, it could be browner, it could be more juicy or tastier. There are infinite ways you could improve the turkey that you bring to the table. Turn your average turkey into some kind of super turkey with the following tips.
Defrosting the Germ-Free Way
You may think it is alright to let your turkey sit out overnight to thaw, but it is really not. Having a cooked or uncooked bird out for 2 hours or more is something similar to a magnet for germ growth. Instead of just sitting out all vulnerable and such, place your turkey in a large zip lock bag and soak in a bowl of cold water. This will allow the turkey to sit out and defrost without growing any germs on the skin.
For quicker thawing, run warm water over it until it is thoroughly thawed. However it might be awhile, so make sure you allocate enough time before hand to thaw so you don't hike up that water bill.
Brown it with Booze
Instead of using your vermouth in a stress relieving martini, there is something else you can do with it. Put it to use. About 15 minutes before you are ready to take your turkey out of the oven, brush the skin with some white vermouth. Due to the sugar in the fortified wine, your bird will take on a rich brown color while still being the same succulent turkey.
Everyone knows the crispy skin is the best part of the turkey, so break out that booze to make it better.
Dry Rub Instead of Brine
Like to brine your turkey overnight because it imbues the bird with the best amount of flavor and juice? Not so. Sure, brine does give a turkey a good amount of flavor, but it is such a messy affair. Avoid the hassle of a brine by dry rubbing the turkey overnight instead. Season the bird with 1/3 cup of kosher salt, dried herbs, and pepper and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. You will still get the deep flavor or a brine, without sloshing salt water all over your clean kitchen floor.
Baste Better for Better Flavor
Basting is considered pretty much key to a delicious and juicy turkey. No one is arguing that, however instead of using the traditional pan drippings basting, why not try something better? Use melted butter with wine and maybe even a few herbs mixed in. The due will as a buttery tang of flavor to the meat all the while still keeping it juicy. The herbs are an extra bonus for better flavor. If you roast in a bag, you may want to try tossing a bit of butter over your bird before throwing it in the oven.
Forget Cleaning Your Turkey Rack, Make it Edible
Love your turkey rack because it allows the underside of your turkey to cook while not get soggy from juices, but hate it because that sucker is one pain in the butt to clean? Forget it, instead use one you can eat afterwards. Crisscross carrots and celery stalks on the bottom of your roasting pan then place your turkey on top. This way, your turkey will come out perfect, nothing will be soggy or stuck to the pan, and your bird will be imbued with great flavor from the vegetables.
Afterwards, it is just easy cleanup and nice vegetable side dishes flavored with all the turkey runoff. Now there is a way to get your kids to eat their veggies!
Stuffing your Turkey the Easy Way
Like stuffing that was cooked inside your bird? Who doesn't? I am not about to lecture on how unsanitary it is, it is worth the risk when the stuffing comes out so good. While getting the stuffing in may be pretty easy, it tends to stick to the insides after cooking. That means it can be a downright chore to get the stuffing out of the turkey.
Instead, try bundling your stuffing into cheesecloth. This way it will still absorb the flavor from the turkey, and give flavor, but the cloth makes it simple to pull out and serve.
Cut Cooking Time with Boiling
You can easily cut the cooking time in half by boiling your turkey first. However, there are other bonuses to boiling before roasting as well. The boiling water will add flavor and a large amount of juiciness to your turkey, but you will still get the crispy skin by giving it a bake afterwards.
To boil a turkey:
Place the turkey in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover it. Toss in salt, pepper, cut-up onion, and a total of 2 tablespoons of combined parsley, thyme, or other herbs.
Bring the pot to a boil on the stovetop and then lower the heat to a simmer (with tiny bubbles rising along the side of the pot). Simmer uncovered for one hour then drain the turkey.
Prepare the turkey to roast as you normally would. Until the internal temperature is 180 degrees.
Lack a Thermometer? Use Another Method
If you lack a thermometer to check the doneness of your turkey, then try another method referred to as the Joint and Juice test. A turkey will be fully cooked when the leg joints move easily, even fall off when tugged lightly and the juices run clear. Check the juices by piercing a thigh with a knife, if they are clear juices, you are good to serve.
Keep The Bones
Once your family has picked the bird clean, you may think there is nothing more to do than toss away the leftover bones. However, if you want to save some money, keep the bones. Start boiling them with some dried or fresh herbs, vegetables and salt. This will make loads of stock that you can use for cooking, you can even put it on dog or cat food for an extra healthy treat for them.