Before we cover some other things to go with the turkey, we should look at some alternate cooking methods for turkey and understand some rules about how to cook the turkey by smoking, deep frying, and grilling it on your barbecue grill.
Smoked turkey done right is moist, succulent, tender, and probably much more flavorful than the traditional roasted turkey. When smoking a turkey, you will follow all the same procedures, the difference is you need to get your smoker hot, just like pre-heating your oven, before you place the turkey into the smoker. You want it on a rack with a drip pan underneath. You will smoke it for at least 7 hours and cook time is going to be 9-14 hours depending on how much it weighs. To get it to the state you want it at, first set your temperature on your smoker to 225⁰F, get your turkey in to the smoker and start the smoking. After 6 hours turn the smoker up to 275⁰F and cook it at this temperature until it reaches the correct pull temperature of 160⁰F in the breast portion at the bone. I recommend you use a Smartro ST54 for this, the probes can be inserted into the bird in the thigh and the breast and will allow you to monitor the temperature without opening the door. Always verify the temperature with an instant read thermometer, and then pull the bird.
Another method you can use is deep frying. This is the most dangerous and people have burned down their houses when the pan of oil on the turkey fryer exploded when the turkey was lowered into the oil. Water and hot oil do not mix. Make sure that no ice is left in the turkey anywhere, make sure that you have completely dried the turkey inside and out, and then season it with a dry rub. Once you get it into the fryer, you will need to fry it for 20 minutes per pound and then pull it from the fryer and let it rest. At this point you will take your temps to make sure the turkey is done, if it isn’t, you will take into the house and cook it in the oven to get it to temp.
The last way to do your turkey is to do it on your grill. For this, you really should spatchcock the turkey, that is a technique where you leave the skin intact and remove the backbone. You will then apply some sharp pressure to the breastbone forcing the turkey to become flat. Once you have this done, then season your turkey. Get your grill hot, and then place the turkey in the center of your grill with an aluminum foil pan underneath it with the heat source on the ends, you do not turn or flip your bird, maintain as close to 300⁰F temperature for your grill and cook your bird until it reaches the desired temperature of 160⁰F. Remember with a spatchcocked bird, the cooking time is cut down tremendously because you have removed the backbone and made the bird laydown flat, decreasing the surface cooking area by half.
Now that we have discussed all the different ways you can cook a turkey, and how to cook them. What are you going to serve with this perfectly cooked bird? Well, we will think about Thanksgiving, a truly American Holiday, and what we serve with our turkey. First, in the United States, where Thanksgiving is our national holiday, we are serving pumpkin pie, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole, turkey gravy, yeast bread rolls, and cranberry sauce or jelly. Every family has their Thanksgiving traditions, some are going to add a variety of pies, like Pecan Pie, Cream Pies, Fruit pies, and meringue pies, like lemon meringue, chocolate and coconut pies topped with meringue. Everyone has their own traditions, but the potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, gravy and rolls, everyone eats.
Timing is everything doing a meal like this and knowing already that you must dedicate your oven for at least four hours just for your turkey. That means we are doing some prebaking and precooking so that when it comes time to roast the turkey it is the only, only item we are cooking except possibly boiling our potatoes to make mashed potatoes with.
I start my meal preparation by baking off all my pies and getting them cooled and stored. Fruit pies, nut pies, pumpkin pies and meringue pies can all be baked and left out on the counter overnight the cream pies must be refrigerated. I am going to share my pumpkin pie recipe it is the most traditional.