One way we have found to decrease the time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving and other holidays is to use an alternate source for cooking the main course - turkey, ham, etc.
We use our Weber kettle to cook our turkey each year; it cooks in less time, adds flavor (from charcoal and/or wood chips), and it comes out perfect each time. Plus, that leaves the oven in the house for preparing other dishes. That way we don't have to make things ahead of time and then warm them up while the turkey is being carved. Everything is warm and fresh and ready at the same time.
How do you know when it's done? Do you just stick it with the thermometer or do you do it a certain time per pound? My husband likes to kill his own turkey, so it doesn't have the automatic thing that pops out when it's done. Also, is the weber kettle the same as a charcoal grill?
Check out wolferub.com my husband has been smoking ours for years and I no longer like my turkey any other way! He brines it in salt & sugar the night before its just yummy! He can give advice on cooking them too. Happy T-day!
For years we have been deep frying our turkey. It takes half the time and the turkey is delicious, especially if you use an injectable marinade.
We do a turkey breast in the crock pot. Comes out moist and tender and is very easy to do that way.
Momoffour - a "weber kettle" is a round charcal grill made be - weber. Ours will hold up to a 18 lb turkey.
The book that comes with it does give a number of min per pound and we use this as a guide - it is not always accurate especially if the weather is cold, windy, or rainy.
To tell if it is done, we use a variety of meathods -
1) When the turkey baster only has clear juices.
2) We stick it with a bamboo skewer and it is done, when the juices come out clear.
3) When it is so nice and tender that the drumstick pulls off in your hand.
4) If you want to be precise and have one handy, you can use a meat thermometer.
The large oven that bakes with a removable lid is really more like a steamer/baker - so no toasty crust. However, it is great for what it does. You just need to be sure and have a trial run with the machine before Turkey Day and make sure it is not on a heat sensitive surface.
Furthermore, you could do the opposite and cook your sides in it and leave the turkey in the oven! The nicer ones come with inserts that can accomodate separate foods for serving purposes.
Actually, the best solution would be to have two of the machines: one for the turkey and the other for the hot dishes - cook 'em outside and not heat up the kitchen.
It's also very large and bulky.
So, Ginger, since you have had one throughout your travels, where have you stored it?
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