Thanksgiving has gone from being Grandma’s holiday to being Dad’s holiday. After all, the signs were always there: over-eating, football and gigantic cartoon shaped balloons. Men have been doing Thanksgiving right for a while now, and that includes taking on the ultimate of culinary challenges — the turkey. Here are some helpful hints to ensure that MansGiving (or ThanksDadding) is all it can be.
For the Dad wanting “More Power” from his gobbler, he has but two options: Grilled or Deep Fried. Both have their advantages, but until science figures out that deep fryer grill, you’re gonna have to pick one.
If you’ve ever looked up fiery holiday explosions, there’s no doubt you’ve come across at least one video of a turkey fryer disaster. As cool as this may be to see, unless you’re Michael Bay, you may want to avoid such pyrotechnics at your holiday event. Here are several tips to avoid turning turkey into turmoil.
Thawed, Dry and Properly Prepped — If you go with a frozen turkey, you MUST make sure the bird is completely thawed. Sometimes a chunk of ice in the cavity can be hiding away. Now we know from science class that oil and water don’t mix, but when that oil is very hot and that water is ice, it causes an eruption that can result in burning everything nearby.
Aside from ice, the turkey should be thoroughly patted dry to avoid excess water.
Rigged for Success — While some might categorize a man’s need for a more powerful car or more expensive home entertainment center as living in excess, getting the best turkey fryer you can makes good sense. Low quality contraptions that are cheaply screwed together or made from flimsy, thin-gauged metal are not the safest way to go. Get sturdy equipment that will last, and secure connections for the gas line. Also, no matter what, it’s a smart idea to wrap the gas hose in some foil, that way if some hot oil does splash out, it doesn’t melt through the tube igniting the the gas.
A true grill head knows there is no off-season for grilling. So, a grilled turkey to give thanks with is a very viable option. Whether it’s charcoal or gas (we prefer charcoal…), master bird grillers have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow — Before you go out to the grill, you may consider cutting your turkey up into parts. Dark and white meat cook differently, so being able to cook each piece individually will make it easier to ensure that every piece lives up to its full potential. However, the desire for the masterpiece of a whole turkey at the table is very understandable. So if you want a whole turkey on the grill, you can have it, you’re just going to need a different strategy.
Send In The Probe — A probe thermometer is a great tool to use when grilling. Repeated opening and closing of a grill lid lets the hot air out and that hot air is also cooking the bird. Constant lid opening leads to dried out meat. Now, having a probe thermometer that can go inside the turkey as it grills will allow you to know what’s going under the lid without having to open it. If you’re really serious, you may want to get two, one for the white meat and one for the dark.
Regardless of which method you choose, there are some additional tips to keep in mind.
Pre-Season Game — Brining or salting a turkey is a must. This is where you soak the turkey in a salt water solution, or rub salt all over the bird and allow it to sit for a while before you cook it. Both ways allow salt and moisture to move into the turkey, keeping it from being dry.
Keep Watch — As tempting as watching the game might be, when cooking on the grill or the fryer, you definitely shouldn’t leave the turkey cooking unattended. Watch football on your phone or tablet, but do not walk away!
Traditions to Avoid — Forget basting. It doesn’t do anything. Also, once again, opening the lid lets hot air out. That makes cooking take longer and makes the turkey drier. Also avoid stuffing the bird. Cook the stuffing on the side. Cooking a turkey until the center of stuffing is done means that the surrounding meat is overdone.
Cut Above the Rest — Even before men moved into the kitchen, carving the Thanksgiving turkey has always been Dad’s job. However, it’s sad that not every Dad knows how to do the deed. No need to worry, it’s real simple. First, consider an electric knife. It’s not just a cool power tool, but it will make short work of that bird. Just don’t get the cordless model. It sounds like a great idea, but you look like an idiot when you’ve been so worried about cooking that you forgot to charge the knife.
Next, make a cut in the fold between the leg and the breast. Then once you get to the joint, push down on the thigh until it pops. Now you can cut the leg quarter off without snagging the knife on the bone. Repeat on the other side.
When it comes to the breast, feel for the breast bone in the middle of the turkey. Start your cut right next to it and cut down continuing along the rib cage. This will cut the breast right off in one piece. Then take the breast and slice it up. It’s a lot easier to slice this way.
Fire Extinguisher — Lastly, always have a fire extinguisher on hand. This may seem obvious, but that’s why it’s so important that you have one close by in case the worst happens.