Chef Time!

Chef Time!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Are You Turkey Smart? Do You Need Turkey Tips?


Every year, about this time, I’m always flooded by those requesting tips on buying turkeys and cooking them as well. Holiday dinners should always be stress-free and fun, and with this posting I hope to be able to make everyone’s Holiday dinner a very pleasant one at that.

barbeque-turkey

Did you know that a "frozen" turkey is fresher than a so called "fresh" turkey?
The frozen turkey have been frozen immediately upon preparation. The so called fresh turkeys can sit in your store for days. I always buy a frozen turkey because of this.
What type should you buy - Fresh or Frozen?
This is what my local favorite butcher told me. The so-called "fresh" turkeys have been sitting around for many, many days. From the processing, trucking to the grocery store, and then in the grocery store. These are not fresh turkeys!
His advice is to purchase a frozen turkey, as they are flash frozen immediately after being butchered. Frozen turkey are fresher turkeys!

cooking turkeys1

Use a shallow turkey roasting pans. If you use a deep roasting pan, you wind up steaming the meat. If you don't have a good roasting pan, you should purchase one a good sturdy one with handles.
BEWARE of the aluminum foil disposable roasting pans as they are not sturdy enough to hold a large turkey and can buckle up when trying to remove the hot turkey from the oven. Most of these pans are not sturdy enough to carry a 12 pound or more turkey. They can buckle and cave in, and have been known to cause injuries by collapsing under the weight. Make sure your pan is sturdy enough to handle the bird safely.
Do NOT stuff your turkey ahead of time as harmful bacteria growth could spoil the uncooked turkey.

cooking turkeys2

Just before roasting, stuff the body and the neck of the turkey. Do not pack in as the stuffing will expand during cooking. If packed in too tightly, it will be very dense instead of light.
Using kitchen twine or skewers, tie or truss the abdomen closed and the legs together close to the body so that the stuffing cooks evenly.
Truss or Not to Truss - You do not need to bother with complicated trussing. Instead, secure the legs by tucking the ankle joints into the pocket of skin at the tail end. Tuck wing tips back under the shoulders of bird (called "akimbo").
Roast your turkey breast-side down on a v-shaped rack until the last hour or so in the oven, then turn it to brown the breast. The result is a moister white meat.
This is optional, but I like to rub some butter over the skin of the turkey before beginning the roasting. Vegetable oil may also be used, but I like the taste of real butter. This helps the skin brown.

cooking turkeys3

I also like to add 1 cup chicken broth/stock to the bottom of the turkey pan before beginning the cooking. This will create a steam room-type environment in the oven, which help keep the breast moist but will not prevent browning of the skin.
Basting during the roasting process is an unnecessary extra stop. Basing in the last hour of roasting can actually turn a beautiful crisp turkey skin soft. Baste the turkey with accumulated juices from the bottom of the pan.
If the turkey is browning too quickly, make a tent out of aluminum foil and place over the top of the turkey.
Never rely on the little plastic thermometer in some turkeys to pop out.
If you wait for it, the turkey will overcook. Instead stick an instant read thermometer several inches down through the skin between the thigh and the breast so the tip ends up about an inch above the joint. They turkey is ready when the thermometer reads 165.
Let the cooked turkey "rest" after it have been removed from the oven.
While the turkey cooks, the juices are forced away from the heat to the middle of the turkey. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes after it is removed from the oven. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the turkey. A moist turkey is easier to carve.
Prepare your turkey gravy while the turkey is resting.
After the turkey has rested, remove the stuffing/dressing and place in a serving dish.
Carve your turkey and serve.
If you need your oven to reheat or cook side dishes, it's better to serve the turkey at room temperature with hot gravy than to reheat it.
Reheating dries out the meat. The interior of a large turkey will stay quite hot for at least an hour.

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