The kitchen is the last place to be on an unseasonably hot Thanksgiving day. Depending on how fast you cook the turkey, the oven temperature could range anywhere from 325 to 450 degrees.
Why not avoid firing up the oven altogether?
“Guys! You are the home of grilling — you can cook outdoors,” suggested Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the America Public Radio personality whose award-winning show “The Splendid Table” airs nationally. “I live in a place where cooking outdoors can end up with you being an icicle and your meat being raw. So I would really consider the idea of doing a slow grill on the turkey.
“And if I were grilling, the night before I’d have fresh broccoli spears, thin-sliced carrots, cauliflower, parsnips or turnips that I’d slice and drop them into a pot of boiling salty water just long enough to get that raw edge off,” she said.
Drizzle the veggies with olive oil and add a dash of salt and pepper. While the turkey is slow cooking, add the vegetables to the grill until they get a little charred, and serve them at room temperature with a jar of store-bought pesto sauce, pepper sauce or chutney.
Eric Crowley, the founder of Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom in Los Angeles, seconded taking the turkey outside. He’s grilled a bird or two in his day.
“Some people are adamant about gas grills, but I’m a big charcoal fan,” Crowley says. “It requires more prep because it takes a while to get hot, but you can that nice oven-roasted quality and even different flavors.”
On a charcoal or gas grill, a 10- to 16-pound turkey will take 2-3 hours to grill, according to Butterball. When you check the temperature, the thigh should be 180 degrees, the breast 170 degrees, and the stuffing 165 degrees.
As for hot side dishes, preparing them the day before may be the way to go.
Kasper called this part “the dirty work.”
“You can make your potatoes and mash them, and put them in a shallow container to reheat them,” Kasper said. “Stick some butter, olive oil and garlic, or whatever, on top of those potatoes, and you’ll have the oven on for 20 minutes before you serve them. The stove full of boiling pots and all of that happened before, so nobody is going to suffer. The kitchen will be lovely.”
Other dishes such as stuffing, roasted vegetables and Brussels sprouts can be reheated in the microwave.
Did you know a microwave is also a good alternative for cooking turkey?
The experts at Butterball shared a method for thawed, prepared birds no larger than 12 pounds. Their instructions are pretty detailed:
1. Thaw and prepare turkey. If stuffed, cover exposed stuffing with plastic wrap.
2. Prepare browning sauce (1/2 stick of butter, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/8 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet; melt butter and blend in paprika and Kitchen Bouquet).
3. Level turkey, breast down, on microwave-safe tray or dish.
4. Brush the back of the turkey with 1 tablespoon of browning sauce.
5. Microwave on high for 4 minutes per pound. (If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, rotate half a turn halfway through cook time.)
6. Remove and discard drippings. Remove drippings so microwave energy is not diverted from the turkey. Discard drippings since they are partially cooked and not flavorful.
7. Turn breast-up, protecting fingers with paper towels. Brush with browning sauce. Remove plastic wrap from stuffing. If needed, level turkey.
8. Microwave on medium for 8 minutes per pound, dividing time into four intervals. Brush with browning sauce three times during cook time and remove and discard drippings. After three intervals, check the temperatures. The thigh should be 180 degrees, breast 170 degrees, and the stuffing 165 degrees. If not all parts have reached the desired temperature, microwave for a fourth time period and test again.
9. Cover cooked turkey with foil. Let it stand for 15 minutes for easier carving.
Grilling and microwaves aren’t the only option.
A text to Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line, which anybody can do, also offered this useful nugget: Turkey can be cooked in a crockpot as long as it’s not a whole bird.
“You can cook a bone-in breast up to 6 pounds and a boneless breast up to 3 pounds in it,” the turkey expert wrote.
And while this has nothing to do with avoiding the oven on Thanksgiving, Butterball’s sign-off text is worth mentioning.
“If you love Thanksgiving as much as we do, help us make the Thanksgiving turkey emoji a reality by signing the petition.”
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