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Best Way to Cook a Turkey

Food Posted by glen 3 weeks ago

Look, I don't want to start a Holy War during a time of thanks, but what are you all's go-to cooking method for the turkey? I typically go with the traditional oven method. It's the least hands-on when you're juggling other sides and guests.

The two other methods I'm looking at trying this year are frying and smoking. Someday I'll gather the courage to try a Turducken, but that's outside the scope of this thread.

22 replies

  • elancaster65

    Since the acquisition of the Trager, I've been informed that I will be smoking a turkey this year. The conversation with The Wife went something like, "You're going to smoke a turkey aren't you?"

    Needless to say, I'll be smoking a turkey this year.

    Reply

  • ahnyerkeester

    Traditional is traditional for a reason. Don't care for the deep fried turkey, dries it out.

    Butter and garlic under the skin gives it some flavor. I played with home make stuffing but my wife, who is an EXCELLENT cook, insists on a box of Stovetop Stuffing. Can't compete with chemical engineering. :)

    Happy Thanksgiving all.

    Reply

    • glen

      Ah, garlic under the skin. I've only done that with chicken... I'll have to try turkey now.

      I played with home make stuffing but my wife, who is an EXCELLENT cook, insists on a box of Stovetop Stuffing.

      It's hard to beat the champ.

      Reply

    • brian

      I am a massive fan of Stovetop Stuffing. In fact, it might be the thing I look forward to most about the Thanksgiving meal. A little Stovetop with some Turkey gravy on top is usually 1/3 of my meal.

      Reply

  • Razorback

    I love a good smoked turkey via the traditional low_and_slow method. But I would also highly recommend you research cooking via the spatchcock (aka, butterfly) method. From the tiny Cornish hen, to the humble chicken, to the noble turkey, this is a tried and true method.

    More importantly, this method can be performed on a smoker, gas grill or charcoal grill. Truly a recipe for all.

    Reply

    • glen

      Excellent call. I've used the spatchcock method before, and it works really, really well. It's all about the low profile. (Here's a great primer on preparing the bird for the spatchcock method.)

      The best part is hearing that satisfying crack of the bones as you're flattening the bird*.

      Disclaimer: I probably need counseling.

      Reply

      • Razorback

        Any advice from Meathead Goldwyn should be taken seriously. There is a reason his book is one of the best sellers on Amazon. I hesitate to call it a cookbook (although it is) because it also has tons of proven science behind much of it.

        I have spatchcocked chicken numerous times and will be doing Cornish hens for my buddies at the jam session we will be having here Sunday. Have not done a turkey yet but I bet it would turn out splendidly.

        Reply

      • elancaster65

        Nice. Thanks for the link.

        Reply

  • Chet_Manly

    In Soviet Russia, Turkey eats you: In Soviet Russia, Turkey eat you during Thanksgiving

    It seems to fit.

    As for cooking the turkey, I second Jordan’s approach. Since my wife cooks an amazing turkey, and since she LIKES to cook, I make the mashed potatoes early, then go to the gym. Timing my gym session correctly, I can come home to the best post workout meal of the year! So many good calories! Then I pay my wife back by cleaning up (because I like to have things clean) and we spend the rest of the day screwing around with the kids.

    I don’t know what kind of crack or what mood enhancing drug she puts in that turkey but it’s damn good. I know she uses a turkey cooker and it takes a long time and she can then use the oven for other things. I don’t question the process, I just get out of the way and allow it to happen. We have a system that works and I couldn’t be happier.

    (I chuckled at the “Holy War” on cooking turkeys... I’m sure they have been fought about much less important topics! But this is a good topic.)

    Reply

    • glen

      I remember you saying something about your post-workout Thanksgiving carb load process previously, and I'm going to try it this year. It's a great idea.

      If there's any topic worthy of going to battle for, turkey is as good as any in my book.

      Reply

    • jordan

      My Thanksgiving workout schedule is similar. For the last 10+ years, I have done my food prep on Wednesday night (I rule pies) and run 3-4 miles on Thanksgiving morning to combat all the sitting. And food intake, specifically pie intake.

      Reply

      • glen

        I often do something similar except with a twist: I do the run in the late afternoon after the big lunch, when everyone is lazing around and nothing's going on.

        The run is always terrible and painful. I have no idea why I do it. I just don't like sitting around and doing nothing. (Apparently puking is better than nothing in my book.)

        Reply

        • Chet_Manly

          You have my respect for the craziness of that approach but I couldn’t do it! We have always had a family tradition of something like croquet or horseshoes or more recently a nerf gun war after the massive meal. That gets me up and moving. I also don’t like to do just nothing while everyone else is active. I’m a team player even if it hurts to walk much.

          Instead of the run, you might consider a lifting session instead. Less puking but still a high suck factor. But lifting after dinner I would need a buddy to keep me moving forward.

          Reply

      • Chet_Manly

        I respect the run...but you’re crazy, you runners. And Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only days I eat pie so I always attempt to make up for the other lost days but it never happens because I’m so full already. A good pie is a beautiful thing but I refuse to eat store made pie. Homemade is the ovly way to go. It can be a risk sometimes but a good home made pie is far superior to the store version. Pecan Is especially good but it seems to be tricky. Like sausage, I don’t concern myself too much with the process.

        My thanksgiving day gym routine is always lower body and I’ll either squat or deadlift till my hamstrings hips and glutes/low back are screaming and I can only waddle and or stagger back to the car. Because I’m pushing 40 and can’t recover like the younger guys, it is one of the few days that I go high in both volume and intensity. There is a reason the week after Thanksgiving is always a deload week!

        Reply

  • elancaster65

    Plan for this weekend:

    Spatchcock a turkey. Dry brine. Simon and Garfunkel Dry Rub. Smoke on the Trager for 3 hours. Serve to Church Home Group for constructive criticism. Will post results here.

    Reply

    • glen
    • elancaster65

      Important note: Make sure you set your Trager to 300 degrees and not smoke or three hours later you will have an undercooked turkey. Needless to say, 375 for 30 mins in a convection oven will remedy your mistake and the group will praise your bird but I don't like missing important steps.

      Reply