The reality is that many people spend hours and even weeks before the big meal sweating over this bird. Should I brine it, dry brine or rub it in butter? High heat, slow roast or deep fry? Do I need a paper bag like the one mom used? How many times can I watch a video on how to carve a turkey before squinting? And how do you turn off the smoke detector?
Here is a radical answer: Correct. Don’t. I mean, if it makes you happy to roast a turkey, if you’re confident, or want to learn how to be, then by all means do it. After all, at Voraciously, we’re here to help you with any kitchen challenge you want to tackle.
But there are alternatives to turkey, and just contemplating them might ease some of the stress associated with the holidays. Without the weight of this entrance on your shoulders, well, you might feel as free as a bird. My editor, Joe Yonan, editor of the Post Food and Dining, has often relied on a smoked turkey he picks up at Rocklands, a Washington-area barbecue supplier, to feed his friends on the holidays. while he focuses on cooking anything but (he maintains a predominantly vegetarian cuisine). diet itself). If you want to go this route as well, you can find turkeys from your local pitmaster, at some grocery stores, or by mail order.
15 Turkey Alternatives for Your Thanksgiving Meal
We were also intrigued by an offer from Popeyes, the fast-food chain best known for its viral fried chicken sandwich, which sells a Cajun-spiced pre-cooked turkey online and in some of its stores. (You can check your local store to see if it’s participating; according to Popeyes, you need to pre-order so they’ll be ready in time.) Popeyes describes it as being marinated “with our signature blend of Louisiana seasoning, slow roasted then fried a crispy coating. It arrives frozen in insulated packaging (for online orders) and is also sold frozen in stores. The instructions tell you to thaw it, then reheat it in the oven before serving.
The price was $94.99, including shipping, for a 14-pounder that Popeyes said would feed eight to 12 people. That might seem a bit steep, but according to a Popeyes rep I spoke to, it’s probably a lot less for in-store purchases; prices vary by location, but they start at $49.99. And we thought it was worth a try, since Popeyes knows poultry well.
Our bird arrived securely packaged and frozen; I let it thaw for three days in the fridge. Following the directions, we baked it, covered in foil, at 375 for an hour and a half, then removed the foil and set it for another 30 minutes. It came out nicely browned and crispy-skinned, with chunks of the rusty-red Cajun spice mix speckling the surface. We probably could have reduced the oven time, since an internal thermometer registered 170, well above the recommended 150.
The bird was so tender that it didn’t want to keep its shape, but we managed to put it on a tray. With a few toothpicks to pin the wings in place and a little garnish, it looked worthy of a primo spot on a party table. (If you don’t mind a little subterfuge, you can hide the orange wrapper it came in and no guest will guess you got help from a fast food chain.)
And the flavor didn’t convince us otherwise: the breast meat was tasty, with a slight hint of spice and a good amount of salt. It was a little dry (perhaps from the aforementioned 170 degrees), but give me some gravy and it was a turkey I would gladly have served. (Shhhh – I ate much, much drier last Thanksgiving.) The dark meat in the leg was, unsurprisingly, moister. He gave up about a cup and a half of excellent cooking juices that don’t require degreasing and that you can use to make a sauce, according to the instructions on the Popeyes website.
As we chose the meat, like Thanksgiving diners hovering in the kitchen for an after-meal snack, we agreed this was the winner of a turkey dinner, considering how easy it was to prepare. A Thanksgiving dinner without the turkey might not be your idea of a true holiday meal – but a Thanksgiving dinner without the stress of one? As a colleague said, “It’s just dinner.”