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Miss Cellania
Manly Ways to Prepare Turkey
by Miss Cellania - November 15, 2007 - 5:48 AM

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Although a roast turkey is most impressive on the Thanksgiving table, its usually the simplest part of preparing the meal. The basic recipe is to put it in a the oven and wait a few hours. Women do it this way because they need time to prepare the dressing, gravy, pies, and other side dishes, plus straighten the house, round up more chairs, and make sure the kids are clean before company arrives. On the other hand, a man will put in the extra effort to try something new and different in order to show off his culinary skills.

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Cooking a Turkey the Scientific Way explains (in a throughly geeky manner) the important parts of the cooking process. Once you understand the most important concepts, you can depart from the basic recipe.

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You can improve almost any food by wrapping it in bacon. It’s the American way. Bacon-Wrapped Turkey is becoming quite popular. Here’s the recipe, with a video.

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Cajun Deep-Fried Turkey has become so popular in the past few years that KFC will cook one for you. But the manly thing to do is fire up the fryer and do it yourself, while trying to not get burned. Here is the recipe, and instructions for deep-frying.

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Deep frying is particularly dangerous, because of the size of the cooker and the huge amounts of hot oil needed, not to mention the size of the turkey. Cooking must be done outside. Here is a list of safety precautions, and an impressive video of what could happen.

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Beer Can Turkey is a natural extension of the Beer Can Chicken recipe. The bird is propped up on a mostly full can of beer, and cooked so that the liquid from the can moistens and steams the bird from the inside. You will want to measure your cooker vertically before trying this.

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A Turducken is a turkey stuffed with a duck that is in turn stuffed with a chicken. This is a very involved and time-consuming recipe, as the birds need to be deboned. The cooking time is around nine hours. But the result is so impressive to guests. Bonus: Use sausage stuffing for a fourth meat. Yes, you can add some bacon if you like.

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What could be more manly than Bourbon Whiskey Turkey? As to the step that says to discard the marinade, don’t be tempted to treat it as a cocktail, since raw poultry may have introduced unsavory microorganisms, despite the alcohol content. You can also inject the whiskey marinade. No, inject it into the turkey! If you’re wondering what kind of bourbon to use, Wild Turkey would be fitting.

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The most manly turkey of all is the one you bagged in the wild. Wild turkeys are usually older and always leaner than farm turkeys, so recipes recommend that you marinate it, parboil it, or bake it in a cooking bag to keep it as moist as possible. Deep-frying is also recommended. Always remember, you lose manly points if you ask someone else to clean your kill.

If you want to be super manly, shoot a wild turkey, marinate it in whiskey, steam it with beer, stuff it with other animals, wrap it in bacon, and deep-fry it. Even if your manly turkey preparation turns into a disaster, there is a bright side. Your story will become a part of the family’s holiday tradition. Every year, you will hear, “remember that time you tried to cook the turkey and…”

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For the rest of November, all mental_floss t-shirts are $14.90!! Just visit the mental_floss store, do your holiday shopping and enter the code “holidayteeparty” during checkout.

Comments (39)
  1. I just posted a turkey cake at about:blank but i would swap that anyday for the bacon wrapped turkey. No contest.

    Jase

  2. For the first Thanksgiving dinner I prepare, I’ll be sure to make it beer-can style.

    Can you add seasonings to the brew for an extra kick? Any suggestions?

  3. Adding seasonings to the beer can is a great way to add flavor. I use Bobby Flay’s basic barbecue rub on the turkey or chicken (recipe on foodnetwork.com) and reserve some to add to the beer can.

    We’re cooking our turkey this year in a very manly way - on our Big Green Egg grill. Toss in a few apple wood chunks to add some smoke flavor. Mmmm. Doesn’t get much better.

  4. Jonathon: I haven’t used any of these methods! But maybe you could follow the link and ask the guy who did.

    I do it the easy way. Put the turkey in the oven and wait a few hours.

    Then I remember to turn the oven on.

    (Ba-dum-ching!)

  5. Bre, I’m with you. A 12 hour smoked turkey is the only way. Yum! Will be doing two this year. Usually save the wings for seasoning greens and peas for new years.

  6. *gag*

    The “Turducken” looks like some kind of visceral cross section. Vile, just vile!!!!!

    Major food aversion alert!

  7. I am always a big fan of brining the turkey. It definitly takes longer (figure between 18-20 hours) but the turkey stay incredibly moist and flavorful.

  8. Miss Cellania, you joke about not turning the oven on. But last year, we ACTUALLY forgot to turn the oven on. We realized it two or three hours before we were scheduled to eat.

    Bad, bad, bad……

  9. Oh lord, Bre, the apple wood chunks sound fantastic! I can almost feel the turkey melting in my mouth.

    Speaking of, it’s noon! Lunchtime!

  10. The bacon wrapped turkey is something my family has passed down for quite some time now. We actually use the bacon to trap in moisture and fats to keep the turkey juicy. We usually throw the bacon to the dogs once the turkey is done!

    If you’re thanksgiving has ever been plagued by a dry bird, give the bacon a shot. Salt and peppering the crap out if it then laying 5 strips across makes for one tasty fowl.

  11. Leave it to us to take a perfectly lean meat and doctor it up to make it fattening!

    (Don’t forget butter!!) ;)

  12. Mmm.. Turducken.

    Alton Brown’s good eats roast turkey is fool proof. I made it last year, and it turned out perfect. It was the first turkey I ever made, and I was very pleased with the results. My guests couldn’t believe it was my first turkey!

    I’m a fan of the brining technique as well. It also works great for chicken and pork.

  13. You could also stuff the cavity with apples. Adds great flavor to the meat.

  14. You can also roast your turkey on a barbecue grill. Had to do this a coouple years back when we had a particularly large gathering and had to cook two turkeys, and didn’t realize until that morning that only one was going to fit in the oven.

    Main problem: maintaining a steady temperature - most grills don’t have auto temperature regulation.

  15. I have been frying a turkey for holidays for years now. The hot oil seals the juices inside and the turkey is moist and flavorful - just don’t make the mistake of doing it without preparing a plan in case of fire…

  16. this past summer a couple buddies and i had the great idea to build a pot and burner, and fry a turkey. spent most of the day building the burner, angle iron, various tripsand parts from the local hardware store. made the pot out of and old empty keg laying around. around eight or so finially decided to go get oil and a turkey. we now know they only sell frozen turkeys aroung here. spent the next few hours thawing it in the bath tub. haha. sat down for a nice fried turkey dinner around midnight. haha got to love the great ideas we have sometimes. man food, its the best!

  17. That smoked turkey will be delish, but lotta maintenance.

    For the moistest turkey you ever had, just roast it the way you usually would - except breast-side down. Use a meat thermometer to see when it’s done. No basting neccesary, although I do use bacon to cover the tips of the wings, etc.

    And I think I’ll try injecting it full of booze this year, as I’m stuck cooking for a bunch of families with kids. Mwahahaha.

  18. Oh yeah, for the beer can, you can add just about anything. For chicken, I do 1/2 lemon, diced, 1/4 onion, diced, and a big ol’ sprig of rosemary. Bay leaf might be good.

  19. For a foolproof turkey frying derrick, got to altonbrown.com - for everything you need to know about frying safely, check out the Good Eats episode “Fry Turkey Fry”

  20. Last Thanksgiving we did the turkey frying. Unfortunately the burner we got was defective and didn’t give enough heat to get the turkey, so the guys had to sit outside with butane torches on the sides of the pot to try to get the temp up. It ended up taking a lot longer than it should have, and it ended up being drier than it should have cause it wasn’t sealed in the way it was supposed to. They exchanged the burner after the holidays, claiming they’re gonna try again this year…

  21. Turducken, the perfect food.

    I bit the bullet a few years back and made one of these. We were having another family over for Thanksgiving and the wife fancied herself as something of a gourmet cook, so the gauntlet had been thrown.

    I began preparing the ingredients the day before. Deboning the birds sounds kinda tough but was actually easy after you do one. Actual roasting was done following the same temps and time as a stuffed bird.

    At the dinner table, everyone was seated and I brought the bird(s) out with much ado and fanfare: Ooohs and aaahs. We prayed and I grabbed my carving knife and started to make the first cut to the bird like everyone does, slicing parallel to the breast bone. I stopped, set the knife down, rotated the platter 90 degrees and cut all the way through the bird in one overly dramatic motion.
    The gourmette and her husband stopped and stared. I then made another dramatic slice about 1/2″ next to that one. They were still dumbstruck. I slid the slice out and placed it on a plate and then they realized what I had done.

    It was fully worth every moment of effort to see her sitting there with her mouth open in amazement.

    BTW, it still stands as the best tasting turkey I have ever had.

  22. Three bird turducken? Child’s play!
    A Couple of years back I saw Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall create the ultimate turducken on his TV cooking show here in the UK…
    A 10 bird turducken!
    Apparently, the roast has its roots in medieval traditions as well as in an early 19th century French tradition of having a feast with 17 kinds of birds. The turkey is stuffed with goose, duck, mallard, guinea fowl, chicken, pheasant, partridge, pigeon and woodcock (go-du-ma-gu-chi-phea-par-pige-ock?) and will cost you around £160 (about $277). It, like the turducken, also contains a fair amount of sausage, bacon and stuffing. :D
    Beat that heheheh :)

  23. I love Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. we’ll always have chickenopolis

  24. A blog like this ended last year with endangered specie turducken. Whale stuffed with elephant, rhino, hippo, manatee, dolphin, panda,ivory-billed woodpecker, platypus,dodo,etc…

  25. I made a turducken a few years ago. And while it was good, no one in my family really liked the duck. But we did decide that deboning the turkey is the best idea ever! No tricky carving to do, no pick-every-last-piece-of-turkey-off-the-bone cleanup, it was wonderful!
    And I absolutely agree with topping your turkey with bacon. It’s soooo yummy!

  26. My turkey recipe is the Morton Thompson Blackened Turkey. It’s so amazingly delicious and tender and so juicy… mmm. I’m so happy it’s thanksgiving. Go look it up.

  27. I experimented and made a buffalo turkey with ranch stuffing yesterday. It turned out fantastically. I used buffalo wing sauce tempered with barbecue sauce for sweetness and mounted with butter, then stuffed the turkey with serrano peppers and an onion and stuffed cloves of garlic into slits cut in the meat. For the stuffing, I sauteed chopped carrots and celery in shallots, garlic, green onions and butter, added a can of condensed cream of chicken soup, then used ranch croutons to sop up the liquid. I added a packet of ranch seasoning and then baked it. Still, I wish I’d used more bacon.

  28. Flatten the turkey to cook it faster!

    TIP: To Spatchcock the Bird

    To butterfly or spatchcock the turkey, turn it breast side down, then use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone.

    Once the backbone has been removed, turn the bird cut side down and gently apply pressure to flatten the turkey.

    See: A Turkey That Really Comes Together…How a Bird Minus Its Backbone Can Go From Flat to Fabulous…
    By Tony Rosenfeld
    Special to The Washington Post
    Wednesday, November 14, 2007;

  29. 2 years ago we made the turducken also. I had the butcher debone all the birds. Much easier, no mess to clean up. I swear we had to cook that thing for like 12 hours. It ended up being about 20 lbs of meat. We had about 20 people over that year and we still had a 15 lbs left over. No matter how much we ate, none of the bird monster dissapeared. We also do the deep frying method. Our problem is that the town we live in won’t let us throw the used oil away. Alton Brown says that you can throw the peanut oil on the grass and it is 100% biodegradeable. I don’t think we’ll be trying that. We’ll have every animal in the neighborhood digging up our yard.

  30. My favorite TRUE story about cooking a turkey was about a friend’s sister..who had never cooked one before. She put the turkey in the oven and then she and her sister went shopping for a few hours. When they returned, the house was belching black smoke from the windows. Turned out the sister had put the 15 lb turkey to bake in the oven, on a cookie sheet.

    No the house did not burn down. But it smelled bad for a very long time.

  31. Can you inject a baked or roasted turkey ? How about the cooking time?

  32. wildinalabama, sure you can! The cooking time depends on the size of the turkey. Four or five hours usually does a 15-20 pound turkey. Instructables has an easy tutorial on basic roasting.

    www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Roast-a-Turkey/

  33. My husband (who obviously thinks he can cook better than me) stuffs the cavity with apples and oranges. It does have a sweet citrus-y taste.
    Oh, darn. Does that mean I won’t have to cook again this year?

  34. Turducken is great!! Haven’t made one, but have gotten it from a company in Louisiana a few times. As far as grilling is concerned, a rotisserie is the way to go…the turkey is moist, tender, & delicious!

  35. A few years ago some people were showing how to fry a turkey on a live christian TV talk show. They did it onstage in the studio, The oil in the big frying pot overflowed and (whoosh) everything on the table went up in flames. Burning oil was dripping on the floor. They tried to beat out the fire with towels which then caught fire. It was funny and scary at the same time, flames were shooting up into the overhead stage lighting. A guy said, “This is why you should do it outside.” (duh) They had technicians squirting the table with extinguishers. I kept waiting for them to go to commercial and not come back. They managed to keep the show going though.

  36. One year we were having Thanksgiving in Key West at our inlaws and we had an extra 20lb. turkey laying about uncooked, so we tried a small experiment. We cranked the oven to 500 and put the poor thing into it unstuffed and uncovered. It cooked in no time and was amazingly moist and tasty with no burned taste or cardboard texture. It was also a beautiful mahogany color without basting! We had it for leftovers for a few days.

  37. it’s always been tradition in our family to use bacon to wrap the turkey. i’ve also used salt pork sliced thinly and placed under the skin. it makes it super juicy. and in a previous post, it really does a good job if you flip it half way through. the juices in the pan and the juices in the bird flow back into the breast.
    i have also done the turducken. it’s quite impressive as it requires alot of work. i have also done a “turphicken”, or turkey stuffed with pheasant and stuffed with chicken. it was quite nice. pheasant with the nice sweet gamey flavor balances out the other two. and it’s less fatty than duck. but you still need to wrap with bacon.
    i also like to stuff whole cloves of garlic under the skin. and if you’re adventurous, stuff the skin with habaneros. it gives amazing flavor to the meat.
    also, sausage stuffing is a must in my family, but it’s nice to sometimes make with chorizo. and chipotle mashed potatos are tasty too.
    either way, just get creative with it! it’ll probably turn out great.

  38. I had a REAL turducken a few years back, and have yearned for that flavor ever since. My mother buys the kind from the honey ham store that has chicken and duck sausage stuffed into the turkey, but it’s really not the same as having each individual bird with the layers of stuffing & sausage between them. Come to think of it, I might make one this year, since my dad’s decided to make dinner this year…

    I’ve been making Thanksgiving dinner for the past 4 years (I was in the Navy and couldn’t make it back home to be with the family). I’ve tried Bobby Flay’s roast turkey recipe, Paula Deen, Alton Brown, and finally I kind of just threw some ingredients together and tossed it in the oven. Maybe I’m really that good of a cook or maybe I’m just really lucky, because I’ve gotten nothing but praise on each.

    I’m actually starting to look forward to the holidays, this year…

  39. I love the bacon wrapped turkey! That is the best idea i have seen all day.

    Turkey jerky is a manly way to prepare turkey. Try THAT out, turkey lovers!