Julia Child’s Deconstructed Turkey is Just The Right Thing!

by Nancy on November 23, 2013

Ah Julia Child’s Deconstructed Turkey recipe. I’ve been using her method since 1999 and wrote about it here on Just The Right Things in 2011 and 2010 and 2009. So, imagine my delight when my November/December 2013 issue of Cooks Illustrated arrived featuring “Julia Child’s Turkey, Updated.”

I loved reading that article because the author, Andrea Geary, discovered the same things I have over the years. The breast was dry and needed brining. The drippings from the brined turkey were too salty. There wasn’t enough stuffing and the stuffing from the original recipe was too soggy. YES, YES, YES. (And hey, Cooks Illustrated, maybe you should hire me.  😎 )


The start of Julia’s Deconstructed Turkey recipe from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home with the first of many notes I’ve made over the years.

The genius thing about Julia’s method, is the separate cooking of the breast and dark meat. This technique alone, will vastly improve any whole turkey cooking method you might be using. Both the original recipe found in Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home and the new Cooks version give instructions on how to deconstruct a turkey.

But, as I wrote in my 2011 post, here’s a hidden bonus secret – if you order in advance and ask very nicely Whole Foods will do this for you. I have done the deconstructing myself and while it can be done, it’s not pretty. Plus you need a good meat cleaver, a high quality boning knife and kitchen shears to do the job properly.


Julia looks so happy while she butchers the turkey herself!

If you are fortunate to have a Whole Foods (or other good butcher) available to you here are some new hidden bonus tips to help you order:

  1. Ask for them to cut out the whole back bone.
  2. Ask the butcher to separate the leg quarters from the bird.
  3. Ask the butcher to chop off the tip of each drumstick (leg.)
  4. If you make all these special requests pick up your turkey early in the morning, early in the week of Thanksgiving when things are less hectic at the store. Once I didn’t pick my bird up until Wednesday and things were so nuts in the meat department I couldn’t get someone to fulfill all my whacky requests.

You can get a free 14-day trial to Cooks Illustrated and get access to Julia Child’s Deconstructed Turkey, Updated recipe. While you’re on the site give yourself time to check out all its great features. The holidays are coming and you might get hooked. The content is excellent and makes the perfect just the right holiday gift for any cook you know.


The stuffed turkey thighs are delicious and fairly simple to do.

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