A Dutch Oven Thanksgiving
Contributed by Laura Cromwell, Cabela’s
Scrambling to put together side dishes only to leave out a key ingredient, forgetting the dessert-destroying difference between a teaspoon and tablespoon are just a few of the ways Murphy’s Law can take over your holiday. Amidst all the chaos, there is only one dish that seems to be the true focus—the turkey. The moment you pull that bird out of the oven, you hope against hope that you don’t have the nightmare of every Thanksgiving host: a dried-out bird. Consider this year cooking with a Dutch oven and forget all about the possibility of foul-tasting fowl. So get out of the house, leave the in-laws inside, and let the cousins argue about who has to sit at the kids’ table—you’ve got a turkey to cook.
Dutch ovens have the power to produce juicy, tender meat that falls off the bone and a gravy that begs to be drizzled over anything that stands still. All you need is a dedicated outdoor cooking space, a 15”-17” deep Dutch oven, charcoal chimney, briquettes, and a meat thermometer.
Everyone has their own way of preparing their turkey, so prior to starting, treat the bird with herbs, butter, or an oil-and-spice rub of your choice. Add water to the bottom of the Dutch oven and place the turkey in breast down.
Get your red-hot coals ready and rest the Dutch oven on top. Put the lid on, add a generous amount of coals to the top, and cook at 350° for three to three-and-a-half hours. Bear in mind that you will need to change the coals every hour for even, consistent cooking. If wind is an issue, wrap aluminum foil around the bottom for defense against heat-dampening breezes.
When the breast meat reaches 165°F and 180°F in the thigh, you are ready to pull the turkey out, carve him up, and serve.
Enjoy the time spent outside. Even better, take along the kids and have them get in on the action and to learn how to cook with a Dutch oven. Leave the side dishes and desserts to the conventional ovens and make Thanksgiving 2014 one for the record books. After this year, you’ll wonder why you’ve never used a Dutch oven for cooking a turkey. What makes a holiday are the memories created by being with people you care about, not the stress of making everything perfect.