A slow-roasted turkey, breadcrumb stuffing, and sweet cranberries are traditional staples for a Thanksgiving menu. As much I love the classic roasted turkey, sometimes I crave something different. According to the National Turkey Federation, more and more families are using new methods for cooking the popular bird. These unique recipes range from the strange six-legged Turducken, to deep-frying, grilling, and my personal favorite, filling the juicy bird with White Castle stuffing.
Coming from Cajun origin, the Turducken is a rather bizarre take on the Thanksgiving classic. The recipe combines a chicken, duck and turkey which are de-boned and stuffed inside one another with a layer of mild or spicy stuffing in between each bird. This giant boneless dish is then either braised, roasted or grilled. Created by Cajun-fusion chef, Paul Prudhomme in 1983, and a personal favorite of noted NFL analyst John Madden, the Turducken, while raising eyebrows, has begun to take the gourmet world by storm.
Deep-fried turkey comes from traditional Louisiana Bayou Creole cuisine. Cooked outside, the fried turkey became the centerpiece for block parties and large family gatherings. Fried turkey caught the attention of mainstream America as the recipe moved up the Mississippi River, and the craze has spread like wildfire.
With a cook time of three-and-a-half minutes per pound, this juicy yet crispy bird can be cooked in under an hour. Of course, with such a short cook time, this makes deep-frying a very quick and intense process. It requires dedication and ambition—not to mention courage to take on splattering grease—to create the perfect Creole fried turkey. In spite of the danger, the end result is a juicy and moist turkey with a velvety texture and rich golden crust.
A grilled turkey at Thanksgiving is, at times, seen as a throwback to summer. Instead of the aroma of a roasting turkey, you'll have the sweet smell of the grill. With a wide array of turkey cuts available at the local butcher, families can pick and choose which parts they want to eat. The National Turkey Federation suggests skipping a whole turkey and using smaller cuts such as turkey tenderloins, steaks, boneless breasts, and drumsticks. This allows for quicker and easier meal preparation. If a grilled whole turkey is on the menu, remember not to stuff the turkey and to use the indirect grilling method, as it is best for a whole bird. As the name suggests, indirect grilling calls for the bird to be placed next to the fire with the lid closed. This creates an out door oven of sorts that allows for a more slow, even heat that creates a more tender bird.
Grilling a turkey allows you to play with different flavors a little easier than the traditional roasting method. Rich marinades can be used for darker portions of the meat, while sweet sauces can be used for the lighter pieces. Just be sure to wait until the last 10-15 minutes before applying the sauce or glaze to avoid burning.
White Castle-Stuffed Turkey
Stuffing and Thanksgiving turkey go together like peanut butter and jelly. Families pass down their stuffing recipe from generations, and it's usually a dinner favorite. However, fast food chain White Castle has created a twist on this traditional Thanksgiving side dish, which has become a personal family favorite. The burger joint has taken their famous little burgers and turned them into a surprisingly delicious stuffing that compliments any Thanksgiving spread. Made with 10 of the little sliders (hold the pickles) and savory spices, this stuffing is similar to a sausage style dressing but without the spiciness.
This Thanksgiving, gather the family around the table to celebrate a new turkey tradition with some of these unique, yet yummy turkey recipes.
Need more turkey inspiration? Try these helpful sources!
Have any unique Thanksgiving traditions of your own? Share your comments below!