We’re just days away from Santa’s arrival and that means it’s time for another yuletide tradition: preparing THE TURKEY.
I had to use capital letters because in many households, this is a full-day affair. Typically, one member of the family wakes early to begin preparing their bird, stuffing, sewing and tending to this flightless delicacy for hours until the evening’s unveiling. At that point, the carving knife comes out, serving dishes are filled with everything from golden brown roasted potatoes to crimson-red cranberry sauce, and family and friends sit down for a festive feast. And the chef just hopes it all tastes right.
Yes, turkey is a delicious and relatively healthy poultry. It can also be tricky to prepare, either drying out if it’s left in the oven for too long, or hiding raw spots that only become apparent on first slice if it’s not fully cooked. After a full day spent slaving over a red-hot oven, the last thing you or the family member who takes on this turkey-licious task needs is to find out that his or her efforts were all for naught. But when it’s done right, a remarkably well-roasted turkey is one of the best gifts you can get on Christmas. More so because it usually offers up leftovers for days to come, perfect for making turkey-based soups, stews or virtually any dish that features the holiday’s preferred bird.
As much as we love roasting, the reality is that it can get a little boring, say, after eating turkey the same way for the better part of 40 years. So this holiday season, why not take a different approach? That’s right, maybe this is the year to throw caution to the wind, go off the culinary map and cook your turkey in a different way! How, you ask? We’ve brainstormed with the Kiss the Cook chefs to come up with five alternative cooking methods guaranteed to start conversations at your Christmas dinner table—even if they leave Aunt Edna a little bemused that she’s not getting turkey done the traditional way.
So, instead of roasting your turkey this year, why not:
Turducken it!—There’s nothing quite like turning your holiday dinner into a Frankenstein-esque poultry mash-up. But that’s precisely what this tasty cooking technique entails. As the name alludes, turducken involves stuffing a turkey with deboned duck and chicken (although in some recipes it can be a chicken stuffed with its poultry cousins such as turkey, or even goose). Recipes vary, but the rest of the bird is usually filled with everything from stuffing to sausage meat or even foie gras. Cook it any way you want, but be prepared to be blown away by the amazing melange of flavours.
Deep fry it!—Kentucky Fried Turkey? Hell, yeah! In reality, this can be a risky cooking method, which in some cases involves Gerry-rigging an outdoor kitchen—usually powered by propane—after finding a pot big enough to house the bird. This explains why most instructions recommend deep-frying outdoors to avoid potential fire risks. If you can pull it off, the technique works because it produces a crispy-skinned, juicy turkey that tastes, well, deep-fried. And doesn’t everything taste better when it’s deep fried?
Beer can cook it!—A delicacy among hipsters everywhere, this method involves cutting the top off a beer can, pouring some of that beer in a roasting pan, then mounting the (seasoned) bird on said can and grilling the whole package on a barbecue until it achieves crispy-skinned goodness. How anyone ever came up with the beer can technique is a mystery. All we know is that it tastes amazing and offers a cornucopia of new tastes sure to add hoppy-flare to your dinner table.
Brine it!—This age-old technique is great if you have the fridge space to make it work, or luck into a cold spell when you can brine the bird outdoors. Place your turkey in a large pot filled with cool water and salt for between eight and 24 hours. Then let it sit in the fridge. Yep, that’s pretty much it. Now, you’re probably wondering why brining is even a thing. Because turkey is so lean—and therefore can become tough and dry—the water and salt from the brine help to tenderize and flavour the bird before it’s cooked. Once the process is complete, roast, grill, deep fry, smoke it—prepare it any way you like. We promise you’ll never forget the incredibly unique taste.
Smoke it!—This one takes on all new meaning in the era of cannabis legalization, but I digress. Smoking a turkey takes time—about 40 minutes per pound—but the result is well worth the wait. The meat is always juicy, tender and cooked to perfection. And it has a certain campfire flavour that makes this method a welcome departure from traditional roasting.
Whichever way you choose to prepare your turkey this festive season, we highly recommend enjoying it with friends and family. On that note—and on behalf of the entire team here at Kiss the Cook Catering—have a safe and happy holidays and a prosperous New Year!