How To Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey

The Thanksgiving holidays are upon us. So, now it is the perfect time for you think about, and plan, your family meal.

Are you planning to cook a small meal for your immediate family? Or maybe you’re planning a big party and preparing and cooking for a huge gathering of friends and relatives?

It doesn’t matter if you are going for a traditional roasted Turkey or if you are going to experiment a bit and try a new method, still, there are certain things to have in mind to get a perfectly cooked Thanksgiving Turkey, especially if you are planning to grill or cook it in a smoker.

Grilling or Smoking the turkey will bring out its flavor and texture to a whole different level but it requires patience and to know how to properly do it.

If you are wondering what to have in mind when grilling or smoking a turkey, then take a look to this step-by-step guide and occasionally check the Infographic down below to get a better understanding of the whole process.

The Selection and Thawing Process

First, you have to decide what type of turkey you are going to pick.

Even though there are different kinds of turkeys out there, like Natural, Free-Range, Fresh etc. most of the people go for a frozen turkey. There isn’t anything wrong with a frozen turkey. With proper thawing and cooking method, even a professional chef can have difficulties to spot the differences.

Thawing plays an important role when it comes to Frozen Turkey. There are 3 safe ways to thaw a turkey: Refrigerator, Cold Water and Microwave. If you go for the refrigerator method, allow the bird about 24 hours for every 5 lbs of meat. After thawed, you can choose to leave thawed for 1-2 days before cooking or cook it directly.

While for the microwave and cold water method, you have to cook right after thawing.

The Brine and Cooking Preparation Process

After you have safely thawed the turkey, now it is time for the preparation and brining process.

Start by cleaning the turkey and then get ready for brining. Most people prefer to brine it while there are others who don’t think brining makes any big difference in texture and flavor.

If you are going to smoke it, then I personally think that brining is not very important as the smoking moisture will help to flavor the meat but if you are going to grill it or roast it in the oven, then a quick and simple brine will do the work.

You can find a simple and effective brine recipe and ingredients in the infographic below.

To prepare the brine mixture, combine together all the ingredients shown in the infographic and place them in medium heat by continuously stirring until the sugar dissolves. Wait for the brine to cool and then place the mixture and the turkey in a bowl, leaving it overnight.

The Cooking Process

The next morning, remove the turkey from the brine mixture and get ready to cook it. You can use an additional dry rub of your choice before cooking to add even more flavor.

Now, if you are going to smoke or grill it, then you have to be patient and to regularly check the meat temperature.

You can even invest in a cheap digital meat/food thermometer, so you can easily monitor the internal temperature of the meat. It is a good cooking gadget to have and you can also use it again in other cooking projects.

When you grill/smoke a turkey, there are two simple rules to have in mind: Try to maintain a steady grilling temperature and regularly check the internal meat temperature.

For the whole turkey, the recommended internal temperature is at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t remove it from the heat before reaching that level. The brown outside crust may fool you but only the internal temperature can tell if it is ready or not. An undercooked turkey is not good for your health and may even cause foodborne illness. (Also, you can check the infographic for a detailed look for recommended cooking temperatures for a whole turkey and for specific parts.)

After you finish cooking it, remove it from the heat and serve based on your preferences.

The Leftovers

After a happy and Turkey-Filled Thanksgiving holiday meal, now it is time to think what you are going to do with all that leftovers.

It is recommended that Turkey Leftovers should be put on a safe place within 2-3 hours of cooking.

Cut them in smaller pieces, put in small containers and store them in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days or in the freezer for about 2-6 months.

When you need them later, you can reheat the meat safely in the oven until it reaches again an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, that’s the step-by-step Turkey Cooking Guide. If you feel a bit overwhelmed by all these steps, I recommend you to take a more in-depth look at the infographic below from FuriousGrill, which should help you get a better all-around understanding to make a perfectly Cooked Thanksgiving Turkey.

How Long to Smoke a Turkey
Infographic by FuriousGrill.Com

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