Home Cooking

Don't Ruin The Turkey AGAIN!

November 21 2012 - 6:27 PM

I have been relishing every opportunity I get to roast a whole chicken. It’s cooks magnificently. It’s simple. It is hard to mess up and it conveys the comforts of home. Flash forward a day to the Rockwellian tableau image of the whole roasted turkey. An iconic piece of Americana that conjures up images of Pilgrims and Indians feasting in a new America. The sobering reality is that they were probably enjoying either an overcooked bird or risking salmonella, my guess is the former. It’s what my relatives do.

I have the dubious honor of carving the turkey, inherited from my vegetarian cousin who had missed festivities for a couple years. My approach for slicing off the breasts and then cutting them met with incredulous stares and a gruff “That’s not how you do it.” It’s typical. Asparagus is cooked in boiling water until it loses all form and texture. Sweet potatoes are beaten to a glutonous pulp then covered with sugary marshmallows. But it’s not all bad. Kishke, albeit store-bought, brings a spicy crunch to the plate and for some reason stuffing can never really fail. While it’s amusing to think about this dinner from a strict foodie-sense, I wouldn’t change much of anything, though I do pull the asparagus early for most people. The one thing that would never fly since I’m not around to do the cooking, but would not change a bit of tradition since we don’t carve the bird at the table, is cooking the turkey properly.

Think of Thanksgiving dinners past. That white meat sucks. It sucks. Some of you are saying “It doesn’t suck.” but you are people who really love the gravy and that’s likely because you haven’t had good turkey. As it’s too late to prescribe this recipe for this year, you should take advantage of 1/2 price whole turkey next week and give this a shot.

Break the bird down first. Cook everything separately. Leg quarters shouldn’t cook with breasts. Here Grant Achatz cooks the bird sous vide. You don’t need to go that far, simply cook each part the way it should be cooked. Grant advocates for that- even after a few glasses of white wine. This makes me wonder who’s driving tomorrow. I hope it’s not me. If anyone has turkey techniques, please share them. I’ll be testing a few things out next week and will certainly share, going so far as breaking out the old sous vide machine and could use the inspiration.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! (in my best Dr. Nick voice)