With Thanksgiving being only a few weeks away, it's time for some of us to start thinking TURKEY! It is, by tradition, served at most holiday dinners. It is also one of the most intimidating things out there to have to cook for a crowd. Not only is it large and a bit awkward to deal with but it takes days to thaw properly and if you want to brine your bird, then you really have to plan ahead! It doesn't have to be stressful though so here are a few of my favorite kitchen "helpers" that I have used to make it through the holidays.
This has to be, by far, one of the best holiday gadget ideas out there. This 22-Qt Roaster Oven roasts up to a 26-lb turkey on your counter top and frees up that oven for everything else, which is so helpful when you're cooking for a crowd. It also self bastes, saving you time in the kitchen. I don't know what I would do without ours and when it's not the holidays, it doubles as a small oven, which is great when I want to bake up a loaf of bread or some muffins without turning on the big oven and heating up the house even more.
At a minimum, you will have to have a roasting pan big enough to hold that bird. Old style traditional ones like this work great. The lid helps to hold in moisture and it's fairly easy to move it in and out of the oven as needed.
If cooking large meals for the holidays is something you will be doing for years to come, you might want to invest in something a bit more sturdy and well made. These don't usually come with lids but you can easily solve the issue with some aluminum foil over the breast of the bird to keep them from becoming dry.
If you're really nervous about cooking up the turkey, make sure you have a Digital Cooking Thermometer/Timer. The probe gets inserted into your bird while it's cooking and once it has reached the correct internal temp the alarm sounds, letting you know that it is cooked to perfection.
I also use ours while the bird is in the brine. It never really fits in the fridge while it's soaking so a squeaky clean cooler and ice packs keeps everything below 40 degrees. If it rises above that, the alarm sounds letting me know I need more ice so I can keep things out of the danger zone we hear about so often.
If you plan ahead you can brine your bird. This honestly makes the juiciest, most flavorful turkey you will ever eat. We do it almost every year here (depending on the size of the bird) and it always gets rave reviews. It does take time though so you have to start a bit earlier. Make sure you thaw correctly and if you can not fit it in the fridge you will have to make sure it stays very cold while it's in the brine bag. I honestly use a large very clean cooler (I have one just for the job), lots of ice packs and I keep more in the freezer to add in as needed, plus a probe thermometer to alert me if things are getting too warm. I check it often to make sure temps stay under 40 degrees. The last thing you want to do is give food poisoning to all your guests (well...unless you really don't like them).