OH, the glorious roasted turkey. It's about as Fuckin'-A American as eagles and blowing your fingers up. Everyone loves to see that giant, golden bird wrested from the oven and displayed proudly on the center of the table for a room of oohing and ahhing guests. Hella Rockwellian.
The thing is, it takes forever. Your fridge isn't big enough to hold the whole bird for brining, and it monopolizes precious oven real estate needed for important things like green bean casseroles and marshmallow pies. And if you do manage to make everything fit, Science is against you: by the time the dark meat is finished, the white meat is drier than Joan Rivers' nethers. Sure, you could baste the thing every thirty minutes. Have fun with that, Sylvia Plath. Or you could just do the smart thing and disassemble the bird into manageable parts.
Breaking down a turkey takes a little practice, but with a sharp knife and a modicum of skill, you should be able to figure this out. (There are handy videos online—just search for "how to disassemble a turkey for roasting." Practice on a chicken first, if you need to.) The benefits vastly outweigh the 10 minutes of hassle.
Confit. For a good primer on how to confit, I recommend Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, but I'll try to break it down simply. Buy a quart tub of duck fat from a higher-end grocery store. Don't balk at the price—you can store it in your freezer and reuse it for everything from frying potatoes to making roux for gravy. I confit my turkey legs and wings every year and then eat succulent shreds of leftover turkey on everything, including homemade sweet potato poutine. A day ahead, rub the legs and wings with salt, garlic, and thyme, and then leave in the fridge overnight. The next day, brush off the excess salt and lay the legs/wings in a roasting pan deep enough to submerge them in melted duck fat, adding vegetable or olive oil as needed to completely submerge the meat. Add a couple more whole cloves of garlic and sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Roast at 300 for 2.5 hours, or until a twist of the bone releases the meat from the "knuckle." (Protip: this is also a great use for a slow cooker!) Now as long as the fat is completely burying the meat, it's safe to leave in the fridge, up to six months. The fat seals it. When you're ready to eat it, just rewarm the whole thing and pull the legs and wings out of the fat. Lay them on a roasting pan skin-side up and broil them at 350 until the skin's crisped up and the meat's warmed through (about 15-30 minutes).
Doro Wat. This luscious, delicately spiced Ethiopian chicken dish is so good that it's worth considering a full-on East African-themed Thanksgiving. It's pretty straightforward, too: Just marinate the leg (separate the drumstick from the thigh) and/or wings in the juice of one lemon and a teaspoon of salt for half an hour. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (or Dutch oven), dry-saute one chopped onion for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add a half stick of butter (clarified butter is traditional), a chopped tomato (or a quarter cup of canned tomatoes) and a half teaspoon each of nutmeg, fenugreek, cardamom (all ground), and berbere spice (buy at a spice stores or use 1 tsp each of cayenne and paprika). Stir it around for a minute, then add a cup of turkey or chicken stock, bring to a low boil, and then add the turkey legs and/or wings. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes until the meat is fully cooked, flipping halfway through. After the turkey has been cooking for about 30 minutes, add a whole hard boiled egg (peeled) for each serving, nestling it in the sauce. Serve with injera bread.
Stuffed Turkey Breast. To get the most out of the breast meat, treat each breast as a separate roast. Brine the breasts like normal, then butterfly each one to get it as flat as possible. Then lay on about an inch of whatever filling you like: for a good northwest flavor, try apples, hazelnuts, and sautéed chanterelles. Or you could use chestnuts, caramelized onions, and browned sausage, or crumbled cornbread with celery and dried, sweetened cranberries. Just pick a stuffing, spread it on, and roll the whole thing up like a burrito, leaving about an inch or two of empty meat on the sides so you can fold in the edges and tie it up. Tightly tie up the little bundles of joy with string, slather the skin with butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast your gorgeous little meatbabies at 400 for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 140. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.