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Perfect Turkey Tips

It's that time of the year again.

Let's talk Turkey.

Are you the bird maker in your household? What's your process like?

Here are my tips for perfectly succulent Roasted Holiday Turkey.

1. Brine. Brine. BRINE!

Brining adds much needed flavor and moisture to the turkey's dense meat and also tenderizes the bird by starting to break down thick protein clusters/molecules.

- Add 3 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of sugar to every qt (4 cups) of water.

- Submerge in a large enough container for at least 12-24 hours, keeping turkey temperature 40 degrees or below.

2. Green Seasoning and butter aka compound butter.

A simple trick for this (West Indian style) is to add about 1/2 cup TQM Green Seasoning to 2 sticks of butter as it already has all the flavoring herbs.

You can also chop at least a cup (total) of your favorite fresh aromatics like thyme, garlic, shallots, rosemary, sage, marjoram, etc and combine with about 2 sticks of butter. Add 1 tsp of salt if you are using unsalted butter.

- pat dry bird and gently insert your fingers under the skin (breast side), making a pocket as far up as possible. You can also continue working your way down the sides to the thighs.

- insert generous amount of herb butter under the skin then all over the outside.

3. The roasting.

I cannot count the amount of Turkeys I've roasted over my career for large and small events alike. The one thing that I learned early on was a simple tip for a perfectly golden bird each time and that is to roast for 30-45 minutes at 400 then reducing the temperature to 325 for the reminder of the cooking time.

This gets you a nice brown on the outside of bird but then a juicy, tender turkey to serve.

You'll want to calculate about - 18-22 minutes per pound of turkey. This variation dependant on true oven temperature.

Bonus: In the restaurant and other food service arenas oven space during Holiday meal preparation is especially covetous. That means maximizing space and time is a premium quality.

We use a simple trick to make sure the bird is fully brown and the inside is cooked and tender.

- brush the turkey with a light coat of apple cider or champagne vinegar.

- Cook uncovered at 375 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

- Cover with foil and continue cooking at 365 for remaining time.

- For this method reduce overall cooking time to 16-18 minutes per pound.

- Check internal temperature for a consistent 165 degree (deep breast and thigh area).

I hope these simple Turkey Tips inspire you to get in the kitchen with confidence this year.

- Chef Shauna


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