Turkey and stuffing
Perhaps the most famous pair of the holiday is the turkey and the stuffing (also known as the dressing, depending on your own family traditions).
The beauty of that pair is in its potential for simplicity or creativity, whichever speaks to you this season. With so many ways to cook a turkey and so many options for dressing that bird, it doesn’t matter if Thanksgiving feels a little different this year. It’ll taste great no matter what.
Before you Cook
Turkey can safely be marinated for up to 2 days before cooking. With a marinade, there’s no need to dry rub or brine the turkey, so choose a marinade that sounds good to you and go for it.
Marinades offer an opportunity to get creative, so whether you’re leaning toward a citrusy marinade, an oil-and-herbs marinade or something inspired by other cultures, there’s a recipe out there for you.
Usually, marinades have an acidic base, such as lemon juice, wine or vinegar. Build from that and find herbs and spices that speak to you.
Brining refers to placing the turkey in a salt-and-water solution, and it’s a pretreatment method that produces a moist and well-seasoned bird.
Brining should be done in either the fridge or a cooler with 5 or 6 ice packs to keep the brine and bird at 40 degrees or colder during the process.
Rubbing the turkey with spices of your choosing and then roasting it in an oven is about as simple as it gets for cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
Choose spices such as Italian seasoning, brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, lemon zest or even a ranch dressing packets to quite literally spice up your holiday meal.
Cook that Bird
There are a number of ways to cook your turkey this year. Are you feeling a classic, oven roasted turkey? A smoked turkey? Grilled? Deep-fried? With so many options, trying something new has never been easier.
Frying the turkey whole can lead to a tasty, crispy bird, but make sure you’re frying in a safe spot outdoors and monitoring the turkey as it fries.
Grilling the bird can free up much-needed space in the oven for other dishes, so consider prepping the turkey and tossing it on the grill this Thanksgiving.
Smoking a turkey can even happen the day before Thanksgiving and the reheating it on Turkey Day, is good to go. Smoking the bird in advance can help make some time on the actual holiday for other dishes.
Roasting the turkey in the oven is tried and true. Try using an oven-roasting turkey bag for ease of cooking (and cleaning up) on Thanksgiving, and consider branching out when it comes to seasoning or marinating.
Don’t Try It
Brown Paper Bag Method: brown bags aren’t proven to be safe to use as cooking utensils. Instead, use an oven bag made specifically for cooking turkey and follow the directions.
Trash Bag Method: Instead of keeping a turkey in a trash bag with the chosen marinade, opt for an oven cooking bag for turkey, and make sure to refrigerate the bird while it’s marinating.
Slow-cooking Overnight Method: Cooking turkey at such low heat increases the risk of food-borne illnesses. Health experts say not to use a temperature lower than 325 degrees to cook the bird.
Classic stuffing on Thanksgiving has several key components: bread, broth and turkey.
Some folks opt to cook the stuffing separately from the turkey to eliminate the risk of food-borne illnesses, but if the turkey is cooked to the proper temperature while stuffed, there shouldn’t be any issue with it.
Stuffing can be a blank canvas for those who want to branch out a little with their creativity this holiday.
If you’re feeling traditional: bread, celery, onions, poultry seasoning and broth combine to make the tried-and-true classic turkey stuffing.
If you’re feeling bold: use a different kind of bread (French or Italian), pair with dried fruits (currants, cranberries or raisins), nuts and a chopped apple for a new take on the classic Thanksgiving staple. Consider using sausage along with the turkey to add an extra layer of sage to the dish.
• Make turkey stock from the giblets to add as broth to your stuffing
• Dry your cubed bread out beforehand.
• If you don’t have poultry seasoning, the top herbs in that mixture are sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley.
• Quinoa can be substituted as a gluten-free bread alternative in stuffing.
• Using a muffin tin to cook stuffing ensures that everyone gets an equal portion.