The centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner has always been the trickiest aspect to the meal, as well it should be. Side dishes may dot the tablescape like punctuation, but it is the bird that is, and always has been, the word. Taming the turkey doesn't have to be an exercise in frustration, as a little preparation can go a long way.
Brine that bird. Aside from actually placing the turkey into the oven, the most important step also happens to be the first one: brining. In its simplest form, brining is little more than a saltwater bath. What makes it truly special, however, is what happens next. The saltwater solution denatures proteins as it travels into the bird, and carries flavor imparted from herbs and spices along with it. There are plenty of brining recipes out there, but no matter what you choose, you're going to need a vessel of some kind to hold it.
Turkeys, being the odd shape that they are, don't naturally fit into too many tight spaces. That's where brining bags come in. Finding just the perfectly-sized (food-safe) container to hold a turkey for 12 hours or so can be somewhat of a challenge, but when the bird is safely ensconced within a bag, finding the right vessel becomes a whole lot easier. Just stick the bird in the bag and the bag in a big enough pan (perhaps the roasting pan itself or a small cooler) and then the whole contraption goes into the fridge. Just don't forget to add those spices to allow the saltwater bath to do its
Now that you're feeling like a bona-fide mad scientist, perhaps it's time to explore that spice rack. What better way to appreciate cooking as science (other than eating delicious results) than with a test tube spice rack? Available in small or large, this rack can hold up to 40 different test tubes. Just don't go adding them all to the brine, OK?
In the oven, the bird may be happily roasting on its way to tender and juicy perfection, but a little more intervention is required. Or at least monitoring, and one kitchen tool is prepared to intervene: a thermometer. Providing quick, instant read access, a thermometer is essential for guaranteeing perfectly cooked results. This particular battery-operated model works quickly and efficiently, allowing for the temperature to be checked in any part of the bird (those parts do cook at different rates) without leaving the oven door open too long. To that end, another option would be a remotely operated probe thermometer, of which there are plenty on the market to choose from. Just stick the business end in the bird, shut the door, and wait for it to hit the desired temperature. A great side benefit either way you go: thermometers are good all year round.
Speaking of, still want turkey sandwiches in January? You're going to need a way to safely store all those leftovers. With a vacuum sealer armed and ready, food can be placed in specially made bags, with the air then evacuated. The result is freezer-ready pouches, individually tailored to specific needs. And considering the chances that leftovers will include more than just turkey, having such a device is a good way to relive the best food holiday that there is in January (and beyond).
All this turkey talk has included before cooking, during cooking, and after cooking, and don't think we've left out the best part: eating. At the table, gravy is an essential part of the Thanksgiving feast; it's no surprise it is delicious poured over everything. (Except maybe the pumpkin pie.) Hot gravy is especially delicious, but with Thanksgiving dinner being the long drawn-out affair that it is, the gravy can seemingly cool down quicker than a snap of a wishbone. An electric gravy boat is one way to keep the liquid gold warm and ready to pour. And, of course, Thanksgiving dinner wouldn't be complete without the promise of turkey sandwiches the next day (and the day after that). After going through all that trouble preparing an epic meal, it would seem inappropriate to use any old store-bought bread from off the shelf. A bread-maker could be the way to go.
Aside from the brining bag (you're going to want to dispose of that after use), all this kitchen gear has the advantage of being able to be used anytime of the year. Even the electric gravy warmer can be pressed into use as a warmer and server for sauces, melted butter, and even pancake syrup. Thanksgiving may mean different things to different people, but when it comes to the kitchen, every cook is thankful for tools that get the job done right.