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Put a Twist on Traditional Turkey Preparation Methods



Turkey has long been a holiday tradition; in fact, 95 percent of those surveyed by the National Turkey Federation (NTF) reported eating turkey last Thanksgiving. While most Americans preparing Thanksgiving dinner roasted their turkeys (94 percent), interest and experimentation in non-traditional methods of turkey preparation, such as deep-frying, brining, smoking and grilling, are gaining in popularity. Surprise your family and friends with a new spin on this old favorite.

It's simple to be creative when you cook with turkey because it's easily seasoned and complements any dish on the table. "You can change the flavor profile of turkey by altering the cooking method, preparation or both," said Sherrie Rosenblatt, NTF's director of public relations. "Experiment with different rub and marinade seasonings, then try deep frying, brining or grilling for added flavor." The Lemon Garlic Roasted Turkey recipe can be easily adapted from the roasting method to grilling or deep-frying techniques. The citrus and garlic flavors are quite complementary to the taste of turkey.

Be creative with other dishes on the table too. 94 percent of those who prepared Thanksgiving dinner last year included a stuffing dish. This year, try rice as an alternative to stuffing. Ginger Citrus Rice is both low in fat, easy to prepare and packed with flavor.

Don't forget to use these flavorful leftovers for quick-to-prepare meals. Cooked turkey is an ideal base ingredient for stir-fry dishes, pizzas, frittatas, fajitas, casseroles, chilis, sandwiches, salads and soups. For more ideas on using turkey to create deliciously different recipes.

MARINATE FIRST

Marinades are seasoned liquids in which the turkey is soaked both to absorb flavor and to tenderize. Most marinades contain an acid such as vinegar, citrus juice, wine and herbs or spices. One of the easiest ways to marinate a turkey is by using a needle-like injector. Injectors can be purchased at kitchen supply stores and range in price from $10 to $15.

To marinate a turkey without an injector, simply use a fork to make random holes over the entire bird. Place the turkey in a large, plastic cooking bag or foodservice grade plastic bag, pour in the marinade, close the bag securely and let it marinate overnight. Turkey should always be marinated in the refrigerator. Before cooking, be sure to scrape off excess marinade and discard. Do NOT re-use marinade to baste the turkey.

ROASTING TURKEY

Roast until the internal temperature reaches 170F in the breast and 180F in the thigh. Cooking times are for planning purposes only--always use a food thermometer to determine the correct stage of doneness.