Don’t be Fooled. This is a Hacker’s Guide to Thanksgiving so that you can make the most of your holiday and your delicious turkey at the same time.
Tricking up your holidays for fun and memories.
Leaves have fallen and cooler weather signals everyone’s interest in delicious Thanksgiving foods, and for some – a little football as well. There are a number of ways to prepare your turkey and no shortage of available recipes, but what most people don’t know is that there are some practical and essential tips and tricks to keep in mind before you prepare you celebrate and before you start to prepare your Holiday feast. Before you butter-up, consider the following tips, tricks, and hacks for your Thanksgiving Turkey and your Thanksgiving celebration for a little extra enjoyment of your dinner and your experience.
It’s not the end of the world, so try a Springtime Thanksgiving
Burned the turkey? Did you over salt the mashed potatoes? Did the Cowboys lose, again, on Thanksgiving Day? Did a fight break out with your in-laws? Were you stuck in traffic or an airport, unable to make it home? It’s not the end of the world. Consider starting a new off-season tradition for celebrating Thanksgiving in the spring with your closest friends. Invite those who missed out or those who had a less-than-stellar experience last time. In my humble opinion, Thanksgiving is just too good to do only once per year.
Anchor Your Thanksgiving with a Pie-Friday Tradition
What should you do with all of the leftovers and the mess of your post-holiday home as visitors have darted out for black-Friday shopping? If you want to continue with the spirit of Thanksgiving and avoid the army of aggressive shoppers at Best Buy, try having a Pie-Friday celebration. Here’s what you do. 1) Invite your friends to come over with half-eaten desserts and leftovers 2) Don’t forget already opened bottles of wine 3) Make little notes and index cards about what each dish is, including if it’s Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, or you just loaded it up with the highest calorie, decadent ingredients that you could come by. Extra bonus for printing out a copy of the recipe for your half-eaten blackberry crisp. Here’s the best part: celebrate good food and beverages with your friends, sample everyone else’s delicious desserts and let them eat yours, so you won’t have to indulge an extra 6,200 calories on the 3rd Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake. Pie-Friday is one of our favorite Thanksgiving Add-ons.
Making a Turkey? That can be a lot of pressure.
People take their turkey very seriously. It’s often the prized, signature dish – frequently criticized for being too dry, too juicy, underdone, overdone – the list could go on and on. This Thanksgiving, stay armed with a few Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe tips that will help you get through this holiday and ready you for Thanksgivings to come, for years.
Will Your Turkey Fit Your Oven?
I know from real-world experience that an 8 pound to 20 pound Turkey might not fit in your oven. Don’t wait to be surprised on Thanksgiving day sitting around with a raw bird or your Thanksgiving celebrations moving to a local Luby’s or worse, Wendys (the use of the word Wendy’s is for satirical purposes only). Instead, treat your guests to two 12 pound Turkeys prepared in different styles and flavors. That’s right, 2 turkeys with delicious options. Make one a traditional, honey-golden bird and the other in Cajun spice. If you want to make sure that your in-laws won’t show up next year? Go ahead and get the 22 lb bird and make them go vegetarian. That will do the trick.
Get a Turkey Roaster
You might only need it a few times a year or a handful over a decade, but it might save your Thanksgiving or your marriage by thinking proactively. A turkey roaster will be large enough to accommodate the largest bird and is relatively easier to clean out and to handle than your oven.
Make Time to Brine
Moisten up your bird and infuse it with delicious flavor at least a day in advance. First you’ll have to remove the neck, giblets and whatever else they left inside there, then make sure that you rinse the turkey under cold water. There are lots of ways to make a brine, but get these ingredients ready. 1) an ice chest with 2 bags of ice 2) several large plastic bags or even extra thick garbage bags (unused of course). Start with about a half-gallon of room temperature water, mix in about 6oz of Kosher Salt, 1 Cup of Good Maple Syrup. Add two chopped onions, fresh rosemary, and any secret spices that you wish. After mixing thoroughly, put the turkey in the plastic bags, pour in the brine so that the turkey is completely submerged, and then tie it up tightly before putting the entire bag into the ice chest. Make sure that the turkey has about 12 hours to absorb all of the delicious flavors before you take it out. Then let the brine drain out and off the bird before putting it in the oven or roaster.
Salt it Up Instead
Don’t want all the fuss with a “deep-water” brining experience? Did you know that Kosher salt and your favorite spices will also do the trick on a dry turkey? The salt can help bring out the flavor in the bird and infuse the skin with herbs and spicy flavors. Once you coat your turkey with a dry brine, make sure that you leave it out overnight.
Oven Cooking: Cook Your Turkey in a Shallow Pan
By placing your turkey in a shallow pan, you will allow it to brown more easily and consistently than in a deep pan, which browns via steam. Coat your turkey with Olive Oil or Butter to maintain an even and delicious crispness.
Oven Cooking: Save Your Breasts from Burning
Well, at least save your turkey’s breasts from burning by placing aluminum foil on your turkey when it’s about 2/3 done so that the breasts won’t burn as the rest of your delicious turkey is cooking on the inside.
The Perfect Temperature
Measure in the thickest part of the bird and make sure that you’ve reached 170 degrees.
That’s it. Enjoy a great holiday with these unconventional and totally practical turkey tips.