One of America’s favorite pastimes is traveling. Another favorite pastime is eating. So why not combine the two? Let’s talk turkey here …
The holidays are quickly approaching, and it’s time to start making your way over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, or wherever you happen to be going. You can attempt to get airline tickets and try for a hotel near her home, or you can drastically reduce your luggage and supplies and attempt to fit everything you need for the trip in your own personal vehicle and still hope to find a hotel near the festivities.
You can rent an RV from Cruise America and make your way to your destination, eliminating restroom stops, snack breaks and cramped boredom. Your family can enjoy the scenic drive, stretch out when needed and enjoy the trip, which should be as much of the reward as the actual destination holiday celebration! Oh, and as far as finding a hotel with occupancies, no need—you’re driving your hotel rooms!
But what if you aren’t invited to Grandmother’s house and you must prepare your own Thanksgiving dinner while camping in your RV? Is that possible? Heck yes, says Cruise America! Each one of our class C RVs comes with a complete kitchen and all the equipment you need to fix a fabulous holiday meal, so long as you’re willing to prepare your turkey outside. Some of the tastiest birds are cooked in the wilderness. Remember, however, that the most important safety tip is to PREPARE THE TURKEY FAR AWAY FROM YOUR MOTORHOME! It is imperative to avoid any catastrophe by keeping the fire far from your RV, or any flammable items.
Here are a few ways you can prepare your Thanksgiving turkey in the great outdoors:
On the Grill: While grilling a turkey is not the most traditional way to cook your bird, it’s almost a sure guarantee to turn out surprisingly delicious. Simply set your gas grill for a medium heat. If you are using a conventional barbeque grill, place the coals on one side or the other. Next, rinse your turkey and pat it dry, turning the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. Give the bird a rubdown with oil, then season it inside and out with salt, pepper and Italian seasonings (or whatever you prefer). Place the turkey on a metal grate inside of a large roasting pan, and set it on the grill. (Put it on the opposite side of the coals if you’re using charcoal briquettes.) Grill the bird for two to three hours until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, or 85 degrees Centigrade. Remove the turkey and let it stand for at least 15 minutes before carving. Typically, the cooking time will be approximately 10-15 minutes per pound. If you would like to collect the drippings for gravy, simply place a metal pan under the grate that the turkey is on as it cooks.
Smoke the Bird: They say that smoking is a bad habit, but not when it comes to cooking! First, you will need a smoker, charcoal, and wood chips for an added flavor if you desire. Build a fire in the smoker’s coal pan, in the same manner you would with any other meat. Depending on the brand of smoker, you will use different cooking processes, but most involve wood chips and charcoal. The pre-seasoned turkey should be placed in the smoker and left for whatever the designated cooking time instructs, but for most types the heat should remain at approximately 300 degrees. The bird should reach an internal temperature of 180 degrees before it can be declared “done.” The finished masterpiece should have a semi-crisp skin and a delicious, moist center. For a tasty variety, try injecting the bird with a mix of butter and hot sauce before placing it into the smoker.
Cooking Pit Style: Another way to prepare a fowl masterpiece is to bury it in a pit with glowing embers. Just dig a pit in the ground, about three feet deep, and wide enough for a cast iron Dutch oven (if you have one) with some working room around it. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can thoroughly wrap the bird in several layers of tinfoil. Now line the bottom of your pit in flat river rocks. Fill the hole up the rest of the way with firewood and start it burning. Let it burn for at least an hour, until the wood has turned to glowing embers. Once the wood has burned, you should be left with about three inches of embers. Using a shovel, gently push the embers aside to make room for the Dutch oven. Prepare your turkey by rubbing the exterior with butter or oil and seasonings to taste. Place the bird into the Dutch oven and put the lid on. Place some metal wire around the oven, through the lid, so that no dirt can get in. If you are using just tinfoil, be sure to wrap it with wire as well, leaving a length sticking up for easy removal once it’s finished. Place the whole apparatus into the pit and use your shovel to push the coals around it, placing some on top as well. Cover the entire thing with some tinfoil, then bury it all with dirt. To estimate the heat of the makeshift oven, hold you hand six inches over it and began to count. When it gets too uncomfortable, remove your hand. If you can only count to one, the oven is considered “high” heat. Two seconds is moderate and three is low heat. After four to five hours, uncover the Dutch oven and, using protective heat mitts, remove it. Remember the the Dutch oven will be very hot, so be careful during the removal process. Using a meat thermometer, make sure that the internal meat of the bird has reached at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving it.
Note: Remember that the pit area stays hot for several hours, so make sure the kids stay away. Also, be sure to fill the pit in when you are finished.
In the Deep Fryer: Turkey frying is a delicate process, and great care should be taken that you are in an area where nothing around you can be ignited by oil spilling over. If this is a new process to you, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone come along that has had some experience with deep frying turkeys. Test the fryer to see how much oil it will need by filling it with water until the bird is submerged an inch or two, but not enough that it can overflow. When it’s time to cook the bird, empty the pot and dry it, then place the same amount of oil (peanut oil works great) into the fryer and heat it up to 325 degrees. Carefully lower your pre-seasoned bird into the oil, being very careful not to drop it and cause a splash. Stand near, as it only takes about 3 minutes per pound to cook. When it is done, be sure to turn off the heat and let the oil cool. Once again, the taste can be enhanced by injecting your favorite flavors into the bird before frying it.
If you know you’re going to be preparing your holiday meal in your RV, it’s a good idea to create a strategic plan to prepare the side dishes. Most of the things you would normally cook, such as sweet potato casserole and cranberry salad, can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. You can also purchase your prepared side dishes at the local market or deli. Lastly, using a crockpot or a slow cooker is always a plus. The pot uses very little power, and can keep food warm while you continue to prepare.
Whatever your holiday situation is, it will be a grand success if you are together as a family, traveling in the most comfortable, convenient fashion there is … in an RV! And if you do end up going over the river and through the woods, please give grandma our best.
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