Think your RV kitchen is too small to make a giant holiday feast? Think again!
The Star of the Show
Turkeys are big – turkey breasts, chickens, and Cornish game hens are small.
How many people are dining with you on Turkey Day? Once you know that number, you can decide which poultry will make the ideal centerpiece of your holiday meal.
How to Cook Small Birds In Your RV
Cornish Game Hens
Weighing in at 1 ¼ pounds each, Cornish game hens make the perfect size individual serving and a beautiful presentation. Stuff each little hen as you normally would. Will your RV banquet be attended by 4 or 5 people? You can probably get all 4 or 5 birds in a small roasting pan and use your RV oven. Stuff with your favorite dressing and allow about one cup per bird.
Roast your Cornish game hens in a 450ᵒ oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest breast meat registers 155ᵒ. After you pull the hen from the oven, tent it with foil and let it rest undisturbed for at least 10 minutes to let the temperature come up another five to 10 degrees.
To achieve an extra-crispy skin, apply a glaze: Start the hen in a 450ᵒ oven for about 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350ᵒ for another 25 minutes, adding the glaze for the last 15 minutes.
A 4 to 7 pound chicken will serve 5 – 7 people. This chicken will definitely fit in an RV oven. Pre-heat the oven to 450ᵒ. Total roasting time will be between one and one-and-a-half hours – the exact cooking time will depend on the size and type of your chicken and how tightly you have packed the stuffing.
The chicken is done when it registers 165° in the thickest part of the thigh. The wings and legs will wiggle loosely and the juices will run clear. Rest the chicken for at least 15 minutes before carving. This allows the chicken to continue to cook, redistribute its juices, and cool down enough for you to carve it.
A 4 to 7 pound bone-in turkey breast will serve 5 – 7 people. However, since the breast is all white meat and white meat tends to be drier than dark meat, you can still get a delicious bird by placing the stuffing under the skin. Any moist stuffing will work, or try this Italian dressing…
- 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 3 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (made by pulsing 4 slices firm white bread in a food processor or blender)
- ½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- Ground black pepper
- Heat the oven to 325ᵒ. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Coarsely grate or chop the zucchini. In a colander, toss the grated zucchini with ½ teaspoon of salt, then let it drain over the sink for 20 minutes. Squeeze out the zucchini a handful at a time, to remove excess liquid. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the onion and sauté, until golden brown. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, breadcrumbs and ricotta. Season with salt and pepper.
- Use paper towels to dry the turkey skin, then rub with a bit of oil and season with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, a chopstick or a grapefruit knife, gently separate the skin from the meat on the breast, being careful not to tear it and leaving it attached at the edges. Stuff the zucchini mixture evenly under the loosened skin (this is a messy project; just do your best), then place the turkey on a rack set in a roasting pan. Cover the breast loosely with foil.
- Roast the turkey breast for 1 hour. Remove the foil and roast for an additional 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the turkey reaches 160ᵒ. If the turkey starts to brown too much, cover it again with foil. Transfer the turkey breast to a platter and let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving.
Cooking a BIG Turkey in the RV
The bird you want is too big for your oven or you don’t have an oven. There’s still hope! Cook it outdoors, over a campfire in a Dutch oven. Pioneers in covered wagons cooked this way – you can too.
What’s a Dutch oven, you ask. It’s a heavy, cast-iron pot with a tightly-fitting lid. Big enough for your turkey, and strong enough to withstand the direct heat of a campfire. Some of them even have little legs. The best ones for camping have a flattish, ridged lid so you can pile coals on top to equalize the heat throughout.
The Big Bird
First of all, buy a turkey that will fit in the Dutch oven with the lid on so the bird will be covered completely. Build a fire outdoors – preferably in a fire pit – making sure the base of the fire is flat. Hardwoods – like oak or maple – burn longer and more evenly than softwoods.
Dutch oven Turkey Recipe
- Turkey, 12 pounds or less should fit. Try to get a fresh one – thawing a frozen turkey takes a long time.
- Apples, sweet or tart, whichever you prefer
- Chicken broth
- Salt & Pepper or Soy Sauce
- While the fire is turning itself into coals, go back to your RV kitchen and wash the turkey thoroughly and remove the gizzards. Cut the apples & vegetables into thick pieces. Stuff the apples & vegetables (minus the potatoes) into the turkey’s cavity and place it in the Dutch oven. Pour on a cup of the broth with salt or soy sauce and place the gizzards and potatoes in the broth. Put the lid on the Dutch oven so that the heat and steam cannot escape.
Pro Tip! Sauté a little piece of the gizzards on your range top for the doggie!
- Place the Dutch oven on the fire, making sure to surround it with as many hot coals as possible.
- Keep an eye on the turkey to make sure all the liquid doesn’t evaporate before you’re finished cooking. Add more broth when it runs low. Cook for 3 to 4 hours, depending on the size of your turkey. The turkey is done when it registers 165°F in the thickest part of the breast.
The Side Dishes
With your small bird in your RV oven or your giant turkey in a Dutch oven outdoors, you have time and space on your range top to make any side dishes you like. Or whack a bucket of balls while you are waiting for that bird. Have a glass of wine. Have another one! You’ve earned it!
Happy Thanksgiving from the entire staff at The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course. We’re thankful for friends like you. Bon Appetit!