If you are among the nervous when it comes to cooking a Thanksgiving turkey, fearing you’ll under- or overcook it, here’s a solution: cook it in the slow cooker. Yes, you can! No, you won’t get a Norman Rockwell-esque golden bird with crisp skin, but you will get wonderfully moist, juicy meat that’s impossible to overcook and dry out. And if you’re trying to eat healthier through the holidays or are one to ditch the skin anyway, this cooking method is right up your alley. It gets better: there’s no need to baste, so you won’t be your turkey’s lady in waiting all afternoon, ensuring it’s regularly mopped with its own juices. The slow cooker does that for you. Will it fit? You’d be surprised what you can get into a 6-6.5 qt oval cooker. Of course if you’re looking for a smaller bird, a chicken would work very well, too.
There’s not much to it, actually. Start with a 10-12 lb. turkey (mine was 4.5 kg) and a 6-6.5 qt oval Crock Pot. Stuff it with bread stuffing as you otherwise would, or bake your stuffing separately and tuck a whole lemon, head of garlic halved through the middle, and handful of fresh herbs into the turkey cavity. Rub the skin with oil and/or butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and put it in the Crock Pot. Add a cupful of chicken stock or apple cider to the pot and tuck fresh herbs around it if you like. Put on the lid and if there are gaps, cover the lid with foil to seal them. Cook on high for 2 hours and then reduce the heat to low for 4-6 hours, until impossibly tender. No need to baste.
It won’t be as golden as an oven makes it – if you want to crisp up the skin, gently transfer the cooked turkey to a roasting pan, 9″x13″ baking pan or cookie sheet and put it under the broiler for a few minutes. (If you’re planning to remove the skin, do it after the turkey cooks – it’s easier, and helps keep flavor and moisture in.) Once the turkey is done, take it out and use the drippings in the bottom of the pan (there should be lots) to make gravy in the usual way. Tent the bird while it waits. Yet another bonus: you won’t need to perform surgery to carve it; it will practically carve itself.
The pressure’s off! Happy Thanksgiving!
Top photo credit: istockphoto.com/kcline
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