Today is Nov. 22, 2021

Published 4:13 pm Monday, November 22, 2021

Plan for longer cooking time if you intend to smoke a turkey this Thanksgiving

Thanks in large part to a global pandemic that has lasted for much of 2020, Thanksgiving figures to be celebrated a little differently this year than in years past. Family gatherings may not be as large and highways may not be as heavily trafficked as they are on what is normally one of the year’s biggest weekends for travel. In addition to smaller gatherings, many families may opt to host Thanksgiving dinner outdoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the COVID-19 virus spreads very easily through person-to-person contact, and the risk of spreading the virus is even greater when spending time indoors with other people. As a result, some families are planning to host Thanksgiving dinner outdoors on their patios or decks this year. That decision has prompted some to consider different ways of cooking their Thanksgiving turkeys, including smoking. Smoking has long been associated with cooking foods like brisket at home, but smokers also can be used to make delicious Thanksgiving turkeys. Thanksgiving hosts who want to smoke their turkeys outdoors this year are urged to take a few trial runs and watch some online tutorials before trying their hand at smoking. Smoking relies heavily on controlling temperatures, which can fluctuate dramatically and quickly inside a smoker. As a result, smoking a turkey may require simple but frequent adjustments to dampers so the temperature inside can remain steady at around 225 F. Hosts who suspect they will be busy hosting or preparing side dishes on Thanksgiving may want to cook their turkeys in more traditional ways, such as baking the bird in the oven.Those who can devote the time to controlling the temperature on their smokers also should know that the turkey will take much longer to cook in a smoker than in an oven. According to the online grilling resource, cooks should plan to smoke their turkeys at 225 F for approximately 30 minutes per pound. That means smoking a 15-pound turkey will require at least 7.5 hours cooking time. That’s a significant factor to consider for people who want to host Thanksgiving dinner outdoors this year. In order to avoid serving smoked turkey after the sun has gone down and temperatures have dipped, Thanksgiving hosts may need to wake up especially early and fire up their smokers around the break of dawn if not earlier.


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Sweet potatoes, which are sometimes referred to as “yams,” are widely associated with Thanksgiving. But these starchy tubers are so nutritious that people may want to consume them more often. Sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber and an assortment of vitamins, including vitamin A and vitamin C, as the online medical resource notes that a one-cup serving of baked sweet potatoes with the skin still on can provide as much as 65 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. And the benefits of sweet potatoes don’t stop there. A 2015 study published in the medical journal Food & Nutrition Research found that anthocyanin, an antioxidant found in sweet potatoes, can protect eye cells from damage. That can promote healthier eyes and potentially help people maintain stronger vision as they age. In addition, an animal study found that the anthocyanin found in purple sweet potatoes can protect brain function by reducing inflammation and preventing free radical damage. While further study is necessary to determine if similar effects can be enjoyed by humans who consume sweet potatoes, the potential to improve brain function is yet another reason to include nutrient-packed sweet potatoes in your diet.