The Ultimate Thanksgiving Countdown: Turkey
As Thanksgiving approaches, we've geared up to prepare you in the best way we can — with tons of recipes and cooking tips. Check back each week as we'll be updating constantly and with different themes!
WEEK 1: Turkey Takedown — Whether you want to brine, roast, or deep-fry your turkey, we've got all that and more.
Week 2: Getting Saucy — All the gravy, cranberry, and stuffing recipes you'll need.
Week 3: Starters and Healthy Salads — Recipes from some of the best chefs around the country to start the festivities off right.
Week 4: Spectacular Sides — From cheesy potatoes to sweet and spicy roasted vegetables, we've got the perfect sides to round out your meal.
Week 5: Delectable Desserts — This is the first and last stop for delightful, homemade desserts.
Types of Turkeys
You basically only have a few choices when it comes to turkey purchases. You can go for conventional turkeys sold at most supermarkets, costlier organic turkeys (also usually found at most supermarkets), and wild turkeys. Here's a simplified breakdown of the difference between the three:
1) Conventional Turkeys: These birds are factory-farmed and usually given a fair amount of antibiotics so that they don't get sick in their poor living conditions. (They generally don't live very happy lives.)
2) Organic Turkeys: These have been raised according to strict rules and regulations created by the USDA and have received its stamp of approval. This means no hormones to speed up their growth or antibiotics to keep unhealthy birds alive. (They generally have much better lives than conventional turkeys, but it isn't guaranteed that they live completely free-range.)
3) Heritage and Wild Turkeys: Though they are different breeds of turkeys, both are raised without antibiotics and hormones and are fed natural and healthy diets. (These birds live a very happy life.) However, wild turkeys tend to be on the leaner and gamier side than other types of turkeys, so cooking them requires slightly different cooking methods.
We asked Ariane Daguin, founder of D'Artagnan (where you can purchase organic, heritage, and wild turkeys online), what her tips were for successfully cooking a wild turkey.
1. Leave the turkey uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. This trick dries out the skin, which helps it to crisp as it cooks.
2. Rub plenty of butter, or duck fat, all over the turkey before roasting.
3. Shield the breast with aluminum foil, or cheesecloth soaked in stock or white wine, so that it does not dry out while the legs finish cooking.
4. Roast the turkey in a foil-lined rack in a roasting pan, rotating it from one breast to the other. When the turkey is done, rest it breast-side down.
5. Baste the bird constantly during cooking.
Click here for more information about wild turkeys and to see what else Ariane Daguin has to say on the matter.
Turkey Brine Recipes
What is brining? Click here to read about it and learn about the pros and cons of doing it.
Chef Jonathan Waxman shares his recipe for the "perfect" turkey.
ICE instructor Sabrina Sexton shares this recipe that's devoid of fancy rubs, stuffings, or tricks — living up to its name.
Chef Anita Lo gives us an alternative way to eat turkey on Thanksgiving that is just as satisfying as any standard roasted bird.
A dangerous but flavorful way to cook your turkey.
For more options, click here to see chef Jimmy Bradley's Deep-Fried Turkey Recipe.
Chef English mixes things up at Thanksgiving and only serves the turkey legs. What does he do with the rest? Makes amazing turkey sandwiches, of course.
No one creates a more flavorful and moist turkey breast than Ina Garten.
For more turkey breast recipes, click here to see the Ginger-Sumac Roasted Turkey Breast recipe.
Have you ever wanted to learn how to smoke a turkey? Check out this video from our friends over at Oneida for step-by-step instructions and then try it yourself with the recipe for Succulent Smoked Turkey.
Looking for tips on how to decorate your table and plan ahead for the festivities? Check out this guide to hosting a perfect Thanksgiving meal.