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Thanksgiving With a Twist

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Keep with tradition, but add a little flair

nol_nov07_medres_page_37_image_0003.jpgOn November 22, families and friends will share in America’s most famous meal, Thanksgiving. And it’s a pretty safe bet to say that turkey will most likely take center stage at most of these culinary gatherings. But, rather than serving a traditional roasted or baked turkey, how about treating your guests to turkey with a twist? In New Orleans, where everything fried is better, fried turkey has become increasingly popular. The same holds true for the delicious and original, turducken, whereby multiple birds, sans bones, are all stuffed inside of one another complete with layers of flavorful dressings. So, no matter if your family sits down for a formal dinner or an informal lunch buffet, these two unique and tasty turkey alternatives will have your guests talking turkey for years to come!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turducken
Picture this: chicken stuffed with your choice of five dressings, stuffed inside a deboned duck that is stuffed with more dressing; then those two birds inside a turkey filled with even more stuffing. That’s the delicacy known as turducken. It’s a true Southern dining experience that will have your holiday guests raving.

Thawing instructions:
Turducken must thaw thoroughly before cooking. For best results, remove from box and thaw in refrigerator for approximately 48 to 72 hours.

Quick-thaw instructions:
Submerge turducken in a vacuum-sealed bag in cool water. Change water every hour for approximately 6 to 8 hours.

Cooking Instructions:
Remove from bag and bake at 325 degrees, breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan, covered for 4 hours, then uncovered for 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Slicing Instructions:
Before slicing, allow an extra 20 to 30 minutes “resting time” after removing the turducken from the oven. This allows the juices to absorb into the meat so they don’t run out when you begin to carve. The end result will be easier slicing as well as juicier meat. We recommend using an electric knife, but a good carving knife works well too. First, slice off the wings and drumsticks. Cut the remainder into slices approximately 1/2-inch to 3/4- inch thick, slicing from wing to wing, then slice once down the middle.

Turducken Gravy:
Turducken drippings
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 quart of water
4 ounces cream of mushroom soup
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 to 1 cup water

Pour the turducken drippings into a heavy pot and bring to a boil to reduce drippings. Skim off excess fat and discard. Add onions and bell peppers and sauté until soft. Add water and soup and cook for approximately 30 minutes. Slowly stir in cornstarch mixture and bring back to a boil. Continue cooking until gravy is desired consistency.

Deep-Fried Turkeys
Deep-frying a turkey is not a horribly difficult thing to do, but it requires some preparation and effort to do it right, especially the first time. If you want to deep-fry your turkey this year here’s what you’re going to need:

One 10–15 pound turkey
4–5 gallons of peanut oil
8–16 ounces of liquid seasoning (marinade)
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
26-quart (at least) pot
Burner and propane tank
Oil thermometer
Meat thermometer
Turkey stand
Lengthy hook
Oven mitts

For the most flavorful birds, inject the turkey with your favorite marinade and/or rub it with a dry spice rub.

Before you fry:
Before you even season or marinate your turkey, determine the amount of oil you’ll need by placing the turkey in the basket (or on the hanger, depending on the type of fryer you are using) and putting it in the pot. Add water until it reaches about two inches above the turkey. Remove the turkey and note the water level by using a ruler to measure the distance from the top of the pot to the surface of the water. Remove the water and thoroughly dry the pot. Remember that the cooking process should take place outside! Also, review the warnings listed below before beginning.

How to fry:
Using the candy thermometer to determine temperature, heat the oil to about 325 degrees and no higher than 350 degrees. This usually takes between 20 to 30 minutes. Once the oil is hot enough, slowly lower the turkey into the basket or on the turkey hanger. Doing this properly will take about 45 to 60 seconds.

TEMPERATURE 350°F
Weight Minutes Per Pound Total Time
10 pounds 3 30 minutes
11 pounds 3 33 minutes
12 pounds 3 36 minutes
13 pounds 3 1/2 45:30 minutes
14 pounds 3 1/2 49 minutes
15 pounds 3 1/2 52:30 minutes

Warnings: Never insert a partially frozen turkey into hot oil, as doing so will create a violent boil and grease fire. When lowering a turkey into hot oil, the grease will probably splatter, so it is recommended to wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and safety goggles. Failure to properly measure the oil may result in serious injury and/or fire damage. Be sure to constantly monitor the cooking, never let the temperature go higher than 350 degrees and never leave it unattended. Do not use a lid when frying.

After the cooking process is complete: Turn off the cooker and carefully remove poultry from the pot. Place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Allow the oil to remain in the pot for two hours so it can cool down. Be sure to keep children and pets at a distance during the cooking and cleanup process!