Tips and tricks for a “seconds-please!” turkey

Have you been using the same tried-and-true turkey recipe every year? Wondering if it might be nice to change it up this time? Or are you still looking for a turkey recipe that you’ll fall in love with enough to go back to year after year?

Every time it’s my turn to host Thanksgiving dinner for our big family, I try a slightly different twist with the turkey. There’s a terrific recipe for a classic roast turkey in the Allen Brothers Cooking Guide, and below are three of my other favorite techniques. What do they all have in common? Allen Brothers all-natural, free-range turkey, a 12-to-14-pound beauty that serves a dozen or more people (even if your uncle Joe can eat enough for three!). Order yours now, then decide on the new turkey twist you’ll try this year—and guarantee a Thanksgiving dinner your family will remember fondly, forever.

Please note: For recipes 2 and 3, you’ll have to start the brining the night before, so plan ahead (not that you were about to leave Thanksgiving dinner until the last minute… You weren’t, right?…)

A word about the stuffing: I prefer to cook the stuffing separately, instead of packing it into the turkey cavity and cooking it along with the bird. But choose your own favorite method. The recipe in the Allen Brothers Cooking Guide is for cooking the stuffing inside the turkey, and the recipes below offer some other stuffing options.

Ready? My three favorite turkey tricks:

1) Butter! Come on, it’s a holiday. You can get away with eating a wee more butter than you normally do. Here’s an extra-buttery, easy-to-make turkey recipe I love, courtesy of Mark Bittman and reprinted in O, The Oprah Magazine. Bonus: With this recipe, it only takes about 2 and ½ hours to roast the entire 12-pound turkey.

2) Beer! Yes, beer. I’ve tried a few recipes for brining turkey in beer, but one of my favorites is this one, from Bruce Aidells, printed in this month’s Bon Appetit.

3) Salt! Lighter than using a stick of butter (as in recipe #1 above), and simpler than beer-brining, salt-brining is a foolproof technique. Some cooks swear by salt-brining the bird the night before, and others don’t bother. I personally think brining in salted water overnight is one of the best ways to ensure a moist, flavorful turkey. Here’s a brining method that works beautifully, courtesy of the late Edna Lewis, a wonderful Southern chef, and chef Scott Peacock, printed in Food & Wine.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!


Allie B.

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