Holiday Turkey Tips
Today is the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Today is a great day to purchase your turkey and get it thawing in the refrigerator. Sunday or even Monday works.
This article is about cooking tips that have come from great lessons learned. Some of these tips will be new to some of you. Grandma might even learn a thing or two.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving, or 4 days before the event is a very good and safe day to start the natural thawing process of the turkey in the refrigerator.
Last-minute thawing under warm or even worse HOT water is a major NO-NO
The turkey will not cook as well, the HOT water will change the turkey's meat/protein texture. Think like this for a moment...What happens to meat when you apply heat?... Aka, cooking...texture changes and firms up.
If the turkey isn't fully thawed when you're ready to start prepping, that would be the case where running the turkey under COLD to room temperature water for a while is just fine. Never Ever HOT water.
14 Chef Must Know Turkey Cooking Tips
- COOKING THE TURKEY TO PERFECTION
TIP: Point the turkey/or chicken legs to the back of the oven while cooking. The hottest part of the oven is the back of the oven, plus the dark meat finishes cooking at a higher internal temperature. This is so simple, yet a number of cooks just never heard that before. If your oven isn't large enough, be sure to switch/180 turn on the turkey in the oven 4 times during the cooking to ensure even cooking. Set a timer.
Turkey Cooking Doneness Temperatures
- White Meat - Done @ 160 internal temp
- Dark Meat -Done @ 170-175
2) Make sure the turkey is very patted very dry before adding any butter or olive oil. #majorturkeytip
This is KEY to getting crispy beautifully cooked turkey skin and golden brown color. Wet skin only steams in the oven #nocolor
Use a paper towels to pat the skin dry. If the turkey sits on the counter awhile before you begin buttering, be sure to pat the turkey dry once again. I cannot understate the importance of this holiday turkey RULE. #perfecturkey
Add butter under the skin with your hands to keep the turkey extra moisture during the cooking. The turkey skin is very tough and really doesn't want to rip. I suggest taking any rings/jewelry off beforehand.
3) MASTER TURKEY TIP - New To Most People
TIP: Soak cheesecloth in melted butter and drape it over the top of the turkey breast. Set the oven temperature starting at 450 degrees, after about 20 to 30 minutes. Keep basting with butter, or seasoned butter. You can not beat clarified butter due to it having no milk solids. Here's my link on how to make some. LINK. After 30 minutes, turn the temperature down to 325 and roast for another 30 minutes. Then remove the cheesecloth and continue roasting until done.
Frying a Turkey?
4) If frying the turkey, RULE Cooking ( 3 - 4 minutes a pound @ 360 degrees). Use Peanut Oil, or at worst use canola. Vegetable oil is bland and has no flavor, not the right oil for Turkey frying in my opinion. Your frying the turkey for texture and flavor right?
TURKEY WARNING !!! (Be very careful that your turkey is completely 100% thawed and patted dry, or expect an oil explosion to occur. Major fire could break out.
Oil and Water Do NOT MIX
5) Once out of the oven or fryer, the turkey MUST for at rest 40 minutes to an hour. This is important to the cooking process, as the resting turkey continues cooking.
The resting of the turkey is when the turkey meat becomes juicy. Think of it like this. The turkey comes out of the oven piping HOT. On the inside of the turkey, the turkey is screaming with hot steam trying to escape. If you cut or slice the turkey anywhere before the storm inside has calmed down you get a grade of an F for turkey cookery. Must REST the Turkey 🙂
6) Never try to cook a turkey straight out of the refrigerator. #toocold
The turkey needs to be around room temperature before placing it into the oven. IF you skip this step the turkey will not cook evenly and the middle of the turkey will be extra pink to raw.
Place the turkey on your counter for 1.5 hours before cooking. Zero healthy worries about it sitting out.
7) Large turkeys over 14 pounds become more gamey and tough. Buy young turkeys, unless you’re looking for gamey turkeys. Some people really like that.
8) Stay away from turkeys that do not state clearly they are minimally processed & antibiotic free.
9) Turkeys that are priced over $40 aren't better, they just cost more to raise. It's a scam and I'm sorry to say that. But, "So what" if a turkey grew up eating bugs and acorns. Sure we could break down animals diets and what is best, but it does not afford to the cost of $80 for a turkey at Whole Foods etc. You can make up for the "acorn" raised flavor with great homemade sauces. Seriously a waste of money in my opinion.
10) Everyone hears about Brining turkeys each year on Food Network. Why? The turkey already comes in a salt solution / brine.
It is legal at the grocery store for the weight you pay per pound to be up to 19% brine. I know, crazy, but 100% true/fact. Do you really want a huge bucket of water/brining in your refrigerator for a week taking up all that space?
11) Be like the restaurants, use a Dry Brine. #CrispySkin
-- A Dry Brine is the use of salt, seasoned with other herbs and spices, even citrus peels. Here's what you do. Completely pack the seasoned salt around the turkey in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. (see photo - that's a chicken by the way)
-- Next day, rinse off the turkey of all salt, and pat very dry. Place the turkey on a roasting rack, uncovered, then back into the refrigerator for the next 12 hours or overnight. The dry brine removes the water from the skin and tightens around the bird.
The Dry Brine will make sure your turkey skin is the crispiest possible, besides of course frying. It also adds a flavor to the naturally bland flavored turkey. Highly suggest trying this restaurant quality technique.
12) Turkeys and Chickens, one of the very few proteins/meats that needs a lot of salt. Add a little more than what looks right and you'll likely be in the sweet spot with seasoning. Salting was the hardest lesson for students to learn in culinary school. We all thought we were good a salting, until we learn we were wrong.
13 ) Stay away from turkeys that do not state clearly they are minimally processed. Antibiotic free.
14 ROASTING TIP IF YOU LIKE non-SOGGY SKIN
Basting adds moisture to the skin. You will never get crispy skin roasting this way. Using the cheesecloth tip above, once you remove the cheesecloth STOP basting the turkey and allow the skin to crisp up.
What's your turkey cooking tips to share? Leave a comment in the comment section below.