Monday, November 21, 2011

The secret to a juicy turkey

Lots of people say they hate turkey because it’s too dry. 
The solution: Begin your preparation the day before. 

Start with a fresh turkey. I figure a pound per person, and that's usually enough to have some leftovers.

Cut off the thighs and legs; season and cook separately. I like to boil them in a mixture of duck fat and oil until they are really tender, take the meat off the bone, then crisp it up in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving. You can even cook them the day ahead if you want to do this; it will just require a little more time to crisp up the meat.

Cut off the back and use it to make a nice stock, along with the neck, heart and gizzard. Cook the liver separately.

Get a 5-gallon bucket and line it with a food-quality plastic bag. Pour in a gallon of orange juice mixed with a cup of salt and any seasonings that you like. Put the breast (a 5-gallon bucket can hold two breasts from up to 20-pound turkeys) in the brine overnight.

Thanksgiving Day: Drain and dry before rubbing with oil or butter. Start your oven at 450 degrees and after you put the breast in, turn it down to 350.  Roast until the internal temperature is 165 degrees (about 12 minutes per pound). Do not baste, and keep oven door closed as much as possible.

When the internal temperature reaches 165, take it out of the oven and just let it rest in a warm place that's free of drafts. (If you want the skin to stay crispy, do not tent.) Wait at least 10 and up to 30 minutes. Slice and serve.

It won't look like a picture postcard this way, but it'll taste a whole lot better.