3 Secrets to Great Roast Turkey

by Nancy on November 17, 2009

A meat thermometer - one of the secrets to great roast turkey

A meat thermometer - one of the secrets to great roast turkey

I generally roast a turkey twice a year. Once at Thanksgiving and then again in February/March when I realize I have to cook the frozen bird I got on a sale too good to pass up and threw in my deep freeze. If you’re like me you’ve probably been doing the turkey thing for more years than you care to remember with varying results. Over the past ten years I’ve discovered 3 secrets to making great turkey and I guarantee using even one of them will significantly improve your results.

1. Brine the turkey. Brining makes your turkey moist and improves the flavor. The easiest way is to use a cooler. Wash the cooler well, fill with 3 gallons of water and 1 1/2C. of table salt. Add your defrosted turkey, cover with ice bags, close lid, soak for 6-12 hours.

2. Use a meat thermometer. I have a Polder Original All-in-One Timer/Thermometer. You stick the probe into the meaty part of your turkey, set the temperature you’d like it to cook to and voila, the timer beeps at you when your bird is done. No more pulling the turkey in and out of the oven. I got my thermometer 3 years ago and can’t believe I went all these years without one.

3. Don’t roast the turkey whole. It’s virtually impossible to cook the white and dark meat perfectly on a whole bird. My go-to recipe is “Julia’s Deconstructed Turkey,” from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home which I’ve been using since 1999. It takes a bit of prep on the front end, which includes removing the backbone, and separating the thigh/leg from the breast. (Extra hidden bonus secret #4: buy your turkey at Whole Foods and they will do it for you.)

(Note: Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home is being reprinted and should be available in January 2010. If you get the book be sure to try Jacques’ chocolate roulade recipe.)

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