As Thanksgiving draws near, perhaps the biggest question that looms is just how you'll prepare your prized turkey. You could go completely no-frills and stick with nothing but salt and pepper, or you could embrace brining because you're one of those people who has been doing it for years.
What about trying something new next week? This may sounds risky if you've had a tried-and-true method for countless Thanksgivings, but there's not much risk at all if trying something new just involves any seasonings you already have in your kitchen. These new, pantry-friendly preparations are as flavorful as brining, yet almost as no-frills as salt and pepper. Here's how to shake things up this year.
Deep dive into your pantry (and extended pantry).
There's a whole lot to discover in your cabinets, fridge, and freezer that can bring life to your humble bird. Join maple syrup with umami-rich soy sauce and you've got a ridiculously easy glaze for turkey that couldn't be easier to pull together. Or look beyond the kitchen to your liquor cabinet and crack open that bottle of bourbon. It also makes for a sticky, nutty, caramelized glaze for the bird — especially when paired with a few spoonfuls of brown sugar.
Behold the power of compound butter.
Perhaps the fastest way to flavor your turkey is to whip up a quick compound butter. Compound butter is really no more than softened butter mixed with flavorings like herbs and spices, and the possibilities are nearly endless.
For turkey, we are particularly partial to a simple one made with fresh citrus zest, thyme, and oregano. Rub it underneath the skin to not only flavor the meat, but also to help that skin crisp up and turn golden-brown.
Get even more creative if you're cooking for a smaller crowd.
If you're expecting just a cozy group of four to six people this year, know that it actually gives you more space to get creative. A turkey breast is a practical choice if you're cooking for a small crowd on Thanksgiving, and its manageable size can go far beyond the roasting pan. It becomes a sheet pan dinner when you roast it with delicata squash and Brussels sprouts. Or break out the slow cooker for that turkey breast: A dry rub and bottle of BBQ sauce jazz it up, while cooking it on a bed of sweet potatoes gives you a freebie side dish.