And what better way to feast than to create a centerpiece that outdoes every tired and true roasted T-bird recipe out there?
We asked a panel of experts for their manliest approaches to turkey. Now roll up your sleeves, crack your knuckles and let’s get cooking.
1. Smoked Turkey
Tony Khanuk: Scientist, Barbecue Guru and Owner of TK’S Smoke Pit
Step 1: Take your turkey (if it is not already brine-injected) and brine it for 24 hours in your refrigerator. A turkey brine calculator can be found on here on seriouseats.com. For an added flavor step, if your turkey is not brine injected, you can brine your turkey overnight in a 2.5 percent brine solution mixed with 1 cup of your rub for 24 hours in your refrigerator. This brining step with your rub gives you the added benefit of carrying the rub flavors directly into the turkey along with the salt.
Step 2: Take your turkey out of the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Then prepare it with your favorite dry rub. Ensure your turkey is coated on both the inside and the outside. If you are a minimalist and aren’t using rub you can simply brush the outside skin of the turkey occasionally with olive oil for a deep rich tan.
Step 3: Using oak or Applewood (TK doesn’t recommend hickory), heat your smoker to at least 250 degrees. Place your turkey in the smoker breast side up. Your cook time will be approximately 30 minutes per pound. (For added moisture while smoking place a small pan of water inside your smoker along with the turkey. Refill the pan as needed during your smoke cycle or when basting the turkey.)
Step 4: After this time has elapsed, use a food thermometer to measure two of the thickest areas of the bird. Avoid hitting bones.
Step 5: Once you can take two consistent readings above 165 degrees, remove the bird from the oven, lovingly wrap it in tin foil and let it “rest” for around 30 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute into the meat.
Step 6: Carve and serve.
*For added moisture, you can also place a small pan of water in your smoker and refill as needed when basting the turkey.
2. Fried Turkey
Chef Glen Humphrey: Certified Executive Chef and Culinary Educator at Arizona Culinary Institute
2 gallons water
3 cups salt
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns
Compound butter ingredients:
1 pound unsalted butter
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
This recipe assumes you’ll be using a 14-pound bird—and that you’ll deep-fry it outside so you don’t burn your house down/maim your family.
Step 1: Brine your turkey overnight in a large plastic bag inside of a bucket or large container.
Step 2: Take it out of the brine and pat it dry with paper towels.
Step 3: Prepare a compound butter; mince garlic and shallots, and chop sage, thyme and rosemary. Throw them into a thick-bottomed pan containing a pound (yes, a pound!) of butter and sauté over medium heat until aromatics are fragrant and butter is melted. Strain butter through a fine strainer to remove all solids and put into an injector.
Step 4: Slowly inject the bird while placing the tip of the injector into the breast, and then slowly draw the needle out. (This will allow the butter to become dispersed through the breast.) Fill the needle again and using the same first hole, push it in at a different angle. Inject while slowly drawing the needle out. Spread the butter evenly throughout the breast in this manner and repeat on the other side.
Step 5: Lightly sprinkle the outside of the turkey in cayenne pepper (a spice that fares well in the deep-fryer) or your own favorite spice blend.
Step 6: Heat 2 to 2.5 gallons of peanut or canola oil to 350 degrees, and place your bird on the turkey fryer stand with the cavity facing down. Slowly lower it into the oil and keep the temperature at 325 degrees for around 4 minutes per pound.
Step 7: Remove from oil, let drain and allow to rest for around 30 minutes before carving.
3. Beer-Brined Turkey
Ted Prater: Executive Chef at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden
Brine ingredients (for a 15-pound bird):
8 cans of 16 oz. PBR (or your favorite brew)
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup sugar in the raw
10 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
1 bunch of cilantro
Step 1: Dump your beer, salt and sugar into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the rest of the ingredients and remove from heat. Allow brine to cool to 40 degrees.
Step 2: Submerge turkey in brine (in a container large enough to hold it all) and brine for 24 hours.
Step 3: Remove from brine and allow to air dry in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.
Step 4: Cook your turkey (Prater likes to smoke his) for about 10 minutes per pound to an internal temperature of 180 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh.
Step 5: Cover completely with tin foil and allow to rest for around 30 minutes before carving.