We all… every single one of us, has had at least one bad turkey experience. Dry, bland, chased by a gallon of soda bad. It’s the experience that makes you have philosophical, whimsical discussions about chicken just being the better protein. Why don’t we just have 4 rotisserie chickens for the holidays instead of a mummified turkey?
But alas, turkey is an art. Much like brisket, you can’t expect to do no prep, stick it in an oven, and host an epic meal that will be the talk of your circle of friends for seasons to come. So we’ve put together a checklist of advice, much of which we implement on every single turkey that goes out the door at CarniStore. If followed, this advice will lead to “talk of the town” status for the fortunate reader of this article.
- Brine it, please just brine the doggone bird! Don’t care if you’re some trained chef who thinks they have a better way, because you don’t. In fact, we don’t give our customers a choice at CarniStore. We are brining that turkey before delivering it to you, or you can go ahead and buy a turkey elsewhere. Brining is key as it makes the end product moist. A good brine starts with water and salt. About 1 cup of kosher salt to every gallon of water. Sugar is optional but recommended as it helps get crispier skin on the cook.
- Butter makes everything better- run your hand to separate the skin from the meat and stuff your herb butter under the skin at the turkey breasts. Basting with some herb butter mixed with maple syrup will give you this shiny glaze and crispy skin finish.
- Spatchcock – as in cut the backbone out and spread out your chicken so that all the meat is facing one side. Hard to explain so just do a quick google image search and you’ll get the drift. This allows the dark meat to be exposed and cook evenly as the breast cooks. Why is this important? Dark meat takes longer to cook due to its denser, fattier build up and therefore will have you overcooking the white meat if you cook your turkey in its original shape. Spatchcocking solves this problem and allows all the skin to get crispy due to the fact that it is not making contact with your roasting tray.
- Get creative with your aromatics. The bottom of your roasting tray should have some good braising veggies/fruits. Poultry takes really well to specific herbs and fruits, apples, oranges, sage, tarragon… Lots of sliced onions are a given, they should be at the bottom of your tray no matter what you’re roasting really. Kick it up a notch by adding some broth to the base of the roasting pan. Add your spatchcocked turkey on top of all this and the results will amaze you.
- Braise/smoke/roast combo – Turkey cooking to perfection must involve a combination of methods. It’s always good to start your turkey off covered to allow it to come up to temp faster and more evenly. The trapped steam inside the roasting tray will also allow your turkey to soak up the flavor from all the aromatics. Once the turkey is almost there, it is time to uncover and crisp up the skin. If possible, this should be done with the introduction of wood smoke. If you don’t have a smoker, finish on high heat in the oven, basting with glaze every 10 minutes until the skin is knife firm and glowing with mahogany perfection.
There you have it then, the perfect holiday feast that won’t have you thinking about fried chicken. If this all sounds too daunting and you happen to live in the Emirates, all of the above is available, already done for you with just a few clicks at www.carnistore.com