Thanksgiving dinner is, without a doubt, the most-anticipated meal in America each year. However, when it comes to the supposed star of the show, the Thanksgiving turkey, many of us have to suffer through boring birds time and time again.
It’s time to spice things up with some creative turkey ideas! Even after what seems like an eternity cooking, your average Thanksgiving turkey can turn out drier than a British comedy.
Luckily, you don’t need to fill up on sides or prepared food to have a halfway decent Thanksgiving meal. These easy-to-execute creative turkey ideas will make your whole meal easier and more enjoyable.
1. Bring on the beer
Propping a chicken on a beer can is a famous trick for infusing poultry with tons of flavor, but not every chef knows that the same can be done with a turkey. Much like with a beer can chicken, you’ll want to pour approximately half a can of beer into the pan you’re putting your bird in.
Next, prop your turkey up on the beer can (a tall can will work best here) and cook on an enclosed grill for an hour. After an hour, pour approximately a cup of beer over your turkey, put it back on the heat for an hour, basting along the way. When the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s ready to eat.
2. Try a tandoori turkey
Take a page from your favorite Indian dish and use tandoori spices to brighten up the flavor of your bird. While many grocery stores sell pre-packed tandoori spice mixtures, you can also make your own by combining turmeric, paprika, cayenne, cumin, ginger, coriander, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Apply the spices as a dry rub both under and on top of the turkey skin, baste with clarified butter, and roast in the oven.
3. Grab some ginger
Channel your favorite Chinese dish in your turkey marinade this year for a more flavorful bird. Combine one teaspoon ground ginger, two tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, one tablespoon molasses, and a teaspoon of freshly grated orange peel and brush your bird with the combination before you put it in the oven for a sweet-and-salty flavor that’s a whole lot more interesting than your usual salt and pepper blend.
4. Use a slow cooker
If you want a delicious, fall-off-the-bone, creative turkey that rivals any restaurant meal, it’s time to break out the slow cooker. Not only does making your bird in a slow cooker save time (you can leave it on even when you’re out running errands), the slow-and-low cooking process means you’ll end up with a moist turkey that every guest will be clamoring for more of.
5. Add wine
Wine is more than what’s getting you through the holidays with your family in one piece—it’s also one of the most flavorful turkey ingredients. Using a dry white wine, like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc, in the roasting tray can add some bright and fruity flavors to your bird, while making other basting notes, like butter, taste even richer.
6. Create a crust
Pecans aren’t just for pies this Thanksgiving. We typically don’t think of turkey as a food with an external crust, like fried chicken, but adding one while baking can make your meal ten times tastier.
7. Take some Italian inspiration
While it’s not exactly unheard of to add some Italian herbs and spices to a turkey, you can take your bird to the next level by packing your recipe with even more authentic Italian flavor. Celebrity chef Michael Symon’s take on an Italian turkey combines rosemary, red pepper, capers, lemon, orange, garlic, oregano, fennel, thyme, and olive oil for a moist and flavorful bird that’s perfect every time.