Thanksgiving is just over a week away, and if you are playing chef for the big day you won’t want to leave the planning until the last minute!
- Plan your grocery shopping: Figure out what you are cooking vs. what others are bringing and create your shopping list. You don’t want to wake up on the morning of your Thanksgiving meal to find out you don’t have the key ingredients you need.
- Cook in advance: Some of the sides and desserts can be made a day or two in advance to relieve some of the workload on the big day.
- Have a plan: Make sure you have your cooking planned out and know exactly when you need to start cooking the bird, the sides, and any remaining desserts to ensure everything is ready on time. If you are using propane to cook – double check your tanks so you don’t run out in the middle of cooking!
- Don’t stress: The most important thing to remember is that Thanksgiving is about people, not food. While good food makes everything better, Thanksgiving is about spending quality time with your loved ones and remembering how lucky we are.
Choosing the right turkey.
Size. Larger turkeys (15 pounds and up) have a higher meat to bone ratio, and you can average about 1.5 lbs. per person when determining the size you need. Smaller turkeys (12 lbs. or less) have a lower meat-to-bone ratio, so you should plan about 2 lbs. per person when determining the size you need.
Fresh or frozen. Buying a frozen bird is often easier if you prefer to do your shopping well in advance, but you’ll need to take the proper time to thaw it prior to cooking. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it takes a full day for every 4 to 5 lbs. of turkey to thaw in your refrigerator, meaning a 25-lb. bird could take the better part of a week to thaw out. You can expedite this by using a water bath but you’ll need to change the water often to keep it warm. Once the turkey has thawed, it shouldn’t be left out of the oven or unrefrigerated for more than an hour or so.
Cooking your turkey – The Propane Way!
Did you know that when you use propane, you have more than 1 option for how to cook your Thanksgiving turkey? In fact, there are 3 different ways to prepare and cook your bird depending on your taste, timing, and setup.
Roasting in the oven. If you have a propane oven, this classic turkey technique is perfect for a first-time cook or a seasoned pro. Depending on the size of your bird, the turkey roasting cook-time will vary. Butterball has a handy turkey cooking calculator to help you plan when you need to put your bird in the oven. Don’t forget the foil tent when you’re ⅔ of the way through cooking to prevent dryness!
Grilling your turkey. Grilling cooks your Thanksgiving turkey by using a slow indirect heat. It also frees up valuable oven space to cook other dishes. Grilling can take as long as cooking it in the oven, so make sure you have plenty of propane. You’ll want to make sure you buy a turkey that fits your grill as well. If you buy one that’s too big, you may not be able to close the lid, which is essential to the cooking process.
Using a deep fryer. Deep frying your turkey not only frees up valuable oven space, but it also cooks the turkey in a fraction of the time as grilling or roasting it, and leave you with crispy skin and tender, juicy meat on the inside, however, it’s not without risk and you shouldn’t leave the fryer alone while it cooks. Oil burns fast and hot, and you need a stable outdoor area to fry that’s away from anything flammable. You’ll also be limited to about a 14 lbs. turkey unless you remove the legs and thighs. You’ll also need to use dry seasoning vs. wet. You can learn more about deep frying your turkey here. To prevent a house fire – NEVER deep fry a turkey on your deck.
Regardless of what method you use to cook your turkey, the most accurate way to tell if it’s fully cooked is by using a meat thermometer. Your turkey should be done when your thermometer reads 165°F.
Have a great holiday!