Thanksgiving Turkey Tips

A meat thermometer with a dial. Notice the mar...

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Turkey tips are from Chef Annette Gallardo, South Bay School of Cooking

To brine or not to brine?

That is a question often asked. I have several opinions on this.

First of all, most supermarket turkeys are already soaked in a horrible salt solution–from 4 to 15% of “solution”, just read the package. This makes for a plump “looking” bird but then when it’s cooked most of the watery brine cooks out and you end up with a dry bird.

Those birds are usually the ones that you get for very inexpensively if you purchase $75 worth of other products. So brining again when you get it home is not a good idea. To much salting/brining will make your turkey tough.

Then there is the issue of how can you fit a giant roaster filled with briny water, and a turkey in your already packed fridge for a couple days?

Your best option is to buy a bird that does not have this “solution” (usually at natural food and gourmet stores). If you are expecting to have the bell of the ball be your turkey, then you really should purchase a good one.

I actually “dry brine” my turkey, a light rub of kosher salt inside and out a couple days prior to the big day. Before roasting, I rinse off the excess salt, pat dry and season with the other herbs I may be using. I do not add any more salt.

Do not cook your turkey to drydom!

All ovens are different, so time is not always your best resource. Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of thigh meat and it should read 165 degrees.

BASTING!
Basting makes for a golden skin, I baste a maximum of three times and I use nothing more than a brush.

The purpose of basting is to produce a golden brown, crispy skin. Basting does not produce moisture or otherwise improve the flavor of the interior turkey. You also lose oven heat by opening the door too often to baste. Heat loss will only increase roasting time so keep the basting to a minimum, during the last hour of cooking.

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