How Do You Do Your Turkey?
Type the words "Thanksgiving turkey recipes" into a Google search box and you'll get a return of 1.7 million possibilities. (Actually it's 1.73 million, my mistake.) The thought of wading through even a sliver of this recipe mountain is giving me a headache.
Over the years, I've tried various methods and flavoring techniques to make that turkey crackle with zing at the table. I've poked 40 cloves under the skin and flambÃ©ed the roasted bird with cognac (fun and theatric but a bit dangerous if you've been drinking wine all afternoon); I've made compound butters with shallots and herbs, tucked under the skin and basted with its buttery juices (safe, traditional) and one year I think I even flipped the bird and roasted it breast-side down (not worth the trouble).
But six years ago, when I finally got hip to brining the bird, I stopped shopping for turkey recipes. Although I browse magazines and cookbooks to see who's doing what and occasionally am tempted to date other recipes, I am a committed bird briner (includes recipe details), unless someone can convince me otherwise. (In this week's Food section, Bonnie Benwick narrows her scope down to wet versus dry brining, and ultimately decides on wet. She's a smart woman.)
Several tempting options have come my way in just the past few days; I've considered the spatchcock method, which involves removing the backbone and flattening it onto a rack for quicker cooking, a method I love using for whole chickens. The current issue of New York Magazine dishes up a handful of turkey twists with a decidedly global theme -- including a harissa rub a la northern Africa, Peking style with a 24-hour drying period and juniper berry-roasted turkey breast served with tender leaves of Boston lettuce.
I'm also weighing the virtues of tandoori turkey, with an Indian-spiced yogurt marinade, which I found in "Giving Thanks" by Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver and Plimoth Plantation, one of my favorite books on Thanksgiving (maybe this method would be fun for entertaining during the month of December?). I'm also digging the idea of a Cuban-style pavo relleno, marinated in a mojo (sour oranges, oregano, lots of garlic) stuffed with black beans and rice -- that just sounds too good to ignore.
Now here's where you come in: What's your all-time method of doing the bird? Flavors, techniques and recipes are all welcome in the comments area below. And if you don't do a bird, what's your go-to main course year after year?
Then stop by and talk to me today at 1 p.m. ET for the eighth annual What's Cooking Thanksgiving special.
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