Thanksgiving conjures images of family feasts, and the star is always the turkey. Whether you’re most concerned about cooking or serving your bird, there are plenty of ways to make these time-honored chores easier and more fun.
Foul-free cooking: Once upon a time, cooking a turkey meant roasting it in the oven. Period. Today, cooking and seasoning options have greatly expanded. The favored seasoning method is brining. The problem is how to soak a bird weighing 20 pounds or more. The easiest way is with a brining bag.
Brining bags are available in grocery stores, making them as convenient to buy as they are to use. And, if you have questions, Reynolds has answers ( http://nando.com/7b). If you’re worried that your bird will take up too much precious room in the fridge, Bon Appetit magazine’s quick tutorial shows you how to brine and store a turkey in a camping cooler ( http://nando.com/7d).
No-cry fry: If frying a turkey is something you’d like to try, but you’re not willing to entrust the star of the meal to a less-than-safe backyard cooker – or invest in five-plus gallons of oil (not to mention disposing of it) – try an oil-less fryer. These handy devices, running between $119 and $149, can handle turkeys up to 18 pounds, depending on the model, and can put a burn on the bird without creating a fire or risk of injury ( bedbathandbeyond.com).
Cooks often worry whether the turkey is done. Sure, those little white pop-up thermometers work, but how fun is that? Instead, check out the Norpro reusable turkey timer ( Amazon.com). It’s less than $10. You insert this festive orange turkey into your bird before cooking. The turkey’s legs point down when the bird goes in the oven, and when it’s done, the legs stick up in the air. This simple tool is good for a laugh – and offers a bit of insurance against salmonella.
Served in style: Although the Thanksgiving table takes center stage, there’s no reason the cook can’t look good, too. A Heritage turkey apron ($25) will keep you looking festive. To wipe up spatters, an Italian Turkey tea towel ($15) will do the job in style. Both are available at surlatable.com.
Harvest- or turkey-themed place settings will make family and guests smile. Spode’s Woodland dinnerware features glorious, elegant toms ( Horchow.com), or for a more informal setting, check out dinnerware, table linens, aprons and decorative items in the Estate Turkey pattern ( WilliamsSonoma.com).