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Home Cooking 242

Turkey Day 2013: Lessons Learned

mazwe | Nov 29, 201306:02 AM

It's over. Right now you're probably thinking: never again. Or maybe it was so successful you want to do it all over again soon.

I'm somewhere in between. The feast was great. Everyone raved and competed for leftovers. But by the time I sat down to eat, I was not hungry. Price to pay for slaving for two days, cooking, tasting and worrying. Though seeing the family huddled together, being thankful and loving, was well worth the trouble, even if I ended up not eating much.

Lessons learned for me: (FYI: Turkey was dry brined for 3 days, left to air dry for 24 hours. Herb butter under the skin and all over. Started at 425 breast side down for 45 min).

- Buy small, make two if needed. I had to work with a 23-lb monster with "50% extra breast meat". Difficult to handle/flip.
- Rotate during roasting. It ended up cooking unevenly (one side cooked faster than the other). I forgot to rotate it during roasting, so when I took it out at 155, the other side was still at 140!
- Stuffing is not worth it. The uneven cooking was probably partially attributed to the stuffing inside. We had extra stuffing baking separately with some homemade turkey broth and a couple of eggs, and with some drippings added. I honestly thought it tasted just as good. Ended up mixing it with what came out of the bird.
- Butter roux beats turkey fat roux (for me at least). Convenient, and less of that greasy turkey taste. I realize this is a matter of personal preference.
- Stick to rubbing with butter. I added some olive oil to the butter, so the bird browned beautifully, but a little too fast.
- Dry brining really works. The meat (and there was a lot of it) was perfectly seasoned. Even though I had to cook it far longer than I ever had to before because of the uneven cooking, most of the breast meat remained moist. Although to be honest, I had better results with smaller birds cooked using the same technique.

I am thinking that for my next turkey roasting adventure, I will slow roast, covered in foil and then uncover and up the temperature for the last couple of hours. No flipping. And if someone insists on stuffing, I am handing them over the entire task.

At the end of the day, it was a success. But I am ready for some Asian takeout.

How was your Thanksgiving? And what are your lessons learned?

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