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Turkey - A Family Tradition

Well I am back, took a little time off from writing. Got a letter from someone who asked me, 'What about cooking turkeys, got any tips?'. Let me give you this for a tip. One reason I never write about cooking turkeys during the holiday season is that I believe the best turkeys are cooked by grandmothers, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters... get the picture? There's nothing like coming down the stairs and smelling a turkey baking, giving the whole house that holiday smell. I also realized if I ever started cooking a turkey that my wife might say, 'You like it so much? Then you just start doing it!' Well I don't want any of that. I like watching someone else cook. But now that the holidays are over lets talk about some popular ways of cooking turkeys outdoors. There's smoking, barbecuing, deep frying, and of course the infamous trash can turkey. In cooking all these turkeys we are looking for an internal temperature of 180ºF. Don't forget turkey is fowl (forgive the pun) and if not cooked long enough it can possibly give you an unpleasant experience or worse. Now for all of our turkeys it is good to use a rub. Work this rub under the skin as well as on the outside of the skin. Here is a basic Cajun rub. Cajun rubs work great on turkeys and bring out the natural flavors of the bird. It also works great with all forms of cooking whether it is smoking or baking. ½ cup salt 3 tbsp black pepper 3 tbsp white pepper 3 tbsp onion powder 1 tbsp cayenne pepper 3 tbsp garlic 2 tbsp paprika 2 tbsp basil Stir until well mixed After removing the giblets and all that extra stuff inside the gobbler, rinse your bird thoroughly. Then apply the rub inside the cavity, on the outside of the skin and most importantly on the inside of the skin. This is easily done by making a small incision at the neck area and working your fingers under the skin of the turkey. Then place the turkey in the fridge overnight allowing the spices to work. Alright, now its time to cook the bird. One of the more popular ways, especially for Cajun birds, is to use an outdoor fryer. Basically an outdoor fryer consists of a gas burner, 10-25 qt pot with rack, deep fryer thermometer, long sleeve shirt, gloves, and goggles. You can buy the fryer units at most local stores. Many of the units come with instructions and diagrams on how to cook the turkey as well as other meats. Begin heating the oil in the pot OUTDOORS. When the oil reaches 375ºF insert the turkey into the pot. Once the turkey is inserted you might have to increase the heat to the pot so as not to allow it to drop below 350ºF. It takes about 3 minutes per pound. After removing the turkey allow it to set for 20 minutes. Don't forget you can smoke or barbecue your turkey. Simply increase the heat on your smoker to about 275ºF for the barbecue effect. This will give you less of the ham tasting meat associated with smoking. Finally don't forget what I said. The best turkeys are baked by your immediate family members, and no smoker, grill or pot can reproduce the results of one cooked in the oven. Thanks Sharon.


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