The best way to have the perfect Holiday Turkey? Go to a friend’s house and enjoy their turkey! If you do tackle turkey prep yourself, here are some best practices.
Inject or Brine
Brining and injecting are great ways to enhance the flavor of your turkey. If opting for a brine, start a couple days in advance to allow the bird more time to soak up the flavor. Some of the best brining flavors include Thyme, coriander, chili flake, and black pepper. My Master Brine Recipe appears in my book Whole Beast Butchery. Injecting is also a great way to get more salt and flavor inside the meat, especially the breast. Similar to brining, inject the turkey a day before to allow the drier white meat to soak up and absorb the salt.
Temper the turkey
It’s very important to take the turkey out 2 to 3 hours before you’re ready to cook it. Let it sit on the counter in the same tray it will be cooking in. This allows all parts of the bird to reach the same temperature, ensuring even cooking and preventing the breast from getting super dry.
Roast low and slow on a bed of vegetables
When cooking a turkey, or any big piece of meat, cooking on a bed of vegetables provides more flavors for the meat to absorb. Roasting at a low temperature, for a longer time (low and slow) creates nice juices that fill the turkey and soak the vegetables. While this will limit the amount of juice for gravy, the trade-off is amazing tasting veggies, which can be one of the best parts of a thanksgiving meal. Opt for brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, carrots, and potatoes, seasoned with herbs, rosemary, thyme and sage.
Let it rest
Once the turkey is done, pull it out and let it sit on the stove between an hour to an hour and a half before carving. Never carve the turkey while it’s still steaming. That steam is evaporating juice that you are letting out and it will make your turkey dry. The flavor of the turkey gets better as it cools and the juice settles inside the meat, so let it rest.
Chef Ryan Farr, founder of 4505 Meats and 4505 Chicharrones