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How to Thaw a Turkey and Thanksgiving Turkey Prep Ideas

Updated on November 3, 2014

Try making turkey differently this Thanksgiving!

Turkey is the traditional Thanksgiving holiday dinner centerpiece, and is primarily roasted in the oven, served with stuffing and mashed potatoes.But there are plenty of other delicious ways to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey, from deep-frying to smoked. Below you'll find a few suggestions for creative and delicious ways to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey meal, as well as tips for the safest way to that a frozen turkey. Happy Holidays!

How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey Properly

On the Internet, you'll probably find many different tips for how to thaw a frozen turkey, but many of them are deemed unsafe because they tend to increase the chances of spreading or contracting food-borne illnesses.

First of all, do not thaw a turkey in a microwave.

Secondly, do not thaw a frozen turkey in cold water. Although it is possible to do this safely, it won't exactly be easy, because this method requires a half an hour of thawing time per pound of the turkey and you need to keep your water cool throughout that entire length of time. So, if your turkey is big, you will have to monitor the temperature and change it every 30 minutes for twelve hours!

The best and safest way to thaw a frozen turkey is to thaw it in a refrigerator. Make sure the refrigerator has a temperature of around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and leave your turkey in its packaging. Set the turkey into a pan or a tray so any juices that may leak out will stay within the pan and not drip all over the inside of your fridge. Leave the turkey on bottom of the fridge as well, away from any other food if possible.

Smoked Turkey for Thanksgiving

Smoked turkey can be a time-consuming process, but the results are well worth it. Smoking a turkey requires some special equipment, and a brine solution beforehand for maximum flavor and juiciness. At you can find instructions and recipes for smoked turkey, and details on smoking equipment. Smoking coupled with a flavorful brining can impart an amazingly unique flavor to your turkey, and you may never want to roast a turkey again.

Deep Frying Turkey

There is a trend towards deep frying turkeys that has been gathering momentum the last few years. A deep fried turkey can yield a fantastically different Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday dinner, but the process involves special equipment and must be performed outdoors in order to ensure safety.

You can find the pot and other equipment you would need at some kitchen supply stores or on the internet, but be sure to also receive proper instruction on how to go about using your turkey frying equipment safely.

Alternative birds and foods for your Thanksgiving dinner

Supposing turkey just isn't your thing anymore, and you want a completely new bird. Why not try roasting a duck or even Cornish game hens, allowing everyone their own bird to enjoy. Duck is flavorful, often sweeter than turkey, but with a slightly gamey flavor as well. But with herbs and spices, or a suitable marinade, duck can be a wonderfully enjoyable meal for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It may be difficult to cook a large number of Cornish game hens if you're having a large gathering of friends and family over for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but your efforts will be rewarded. A large number of recipes for Cornish game hens can be found in abundance on the internet, and you likely have one or two tucked away in a recipe book. You can also opt to use the same herbs or marinade you traditionally use on your Thanksgiving turkey.

Lastly, if you want to forgo poultry completely, you can also bake a nice ham or a large roast, and for the extremely adventurous, try a roast suckling pig with all the trimmings!

Great tips and ideas on how to brine a turkey


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