The Very Best Ways To Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey
There's a lot of pressure on the Thanksgiving turkey. It's the star of the holiday show but rarely outshines the supporting cast. With that in mind, we went straight to the experts to find every way to cook your turkey this holiday so you will be both praised and adored by your dinner guests.
Now, most of us will roast our turkeys on Thanksgiving. Roasting is just a dry cooking technique where you cook your bird in the oven basically forever. Typically we baste the turkey with its juices while it's roasting to keep it moist. Problem is, it usually doesn't work. You can baste until your arm falls off and even inject your bird with all sorts of liquids from terrifying contraptions, but, the breast will likely dry out.
Chef Fujinaga, the Executive Chef at The Sea Grill in Rockefeller Center says your turkey breast dries out because different parts of the turkey cook at different times. He recommends breaking down your turkey (or having your butcher do it) and cooking the legs and breast separately. That way, each part will cook at the right time and temp.
To fix the problem of the perpetually dry turkey breast, Chef Fujinaga suggests letting your bird pretty much relax in a jacuzzi using a technique called sous vide where you put the raw food in a vacuum sealed bag and then into a warm water immersion bath.
If you don't have access or wanna pony up the dough for a sous vide machine you can use a pot of warm water on the stove. But, Chef Fujinaga recommends keeping the water around 145 degrees fahrenheit and monitoring it with a thermometer.
His recipe uses just a small amount of buttermilk and some tarragon in the vacuum packed bag. After about 2.5 hours in the water bath check the bags. If the liquid is darker inside and the meat is firm, take it off and just sear it on the stove to get that crispy skin we all know and love. The result is seriously the best turkey ever.
If you love this technique but are low on kitchen gadgets (and an oven for that matter) celebrity Chef David Burke says you can essentially do the whole thing in the dishwasher. Yup, the dishwasher.
Chef Burke says to season the turkey with salt, pepper, herbs and butter under the skin. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then into a tupperware container and into your dishwasher for about four full cycles. You will need to sear off your dishwasher turkey the same way we did with The Sea Grill's version in the sous vide.
Now, If you're a lover of bbq you can smoke your turkey in an outdoor smoker or infuse some smoke flavor with an ingredient called liquid smoke or a smoking gun.
It's become increasingly popular to deep fry the Thanksgiving turkey which can be delicious but dangerous. There are plenty of safety precautions for deep frying outdoors. A big one, according to PBS is to 'make sure your Thanksgiving turkey is completely thawed and dry. Extra water will cause the oil to bubble furiously and spill over. If oil spills from the fryer onto the burner, it can cause a fire'
A safer deep fry method is to do it indoors with the proper equipment. You can use a specifically designed indoor fryer like this one from Williams-Sonoma. Don't ever use an outdoor fryer inside. Seriously, never.
Why would you want to deep fry? Well, Chef Fujinaga says it will yield a much juicier bird than traditional roasting. For something a little more impressive than a deep fried bird, he suggests the very decadent confit technique. Yep, just like with duck. For this recipe Chef Fujinaga slowly cooks the turkey legs in duck fat (but you can use olive oil if none is handy). The key here is controlling the oil temperature so you're essentially poaching the meat rather than deep frying it. The resulting turkey is fall off the bone tender, rich in flavor and really indulgent.
So you can smoke, fry, confit, braise, sous vide and even toss your turkey in the dishwasher this Thanksgiving. And if you're going to stick with the tried and true roasting make sure you break down the bird first or just have your butcher do it.
Watch the video above to learn the best ways to cook your Thanksgiving turkey. Then, check out the slideshow below to get the recipes included in the video!