Old-Fashioned Roast Turkey | My Year Cooking with Chris Kimball

Cook’s country turkey recipe

Video Cook’s country turkey recipe

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. While dining at a friend’s house, I ended up cooking my 22-pound turkey. Although a bit of miscommunication meant we didn’t have salsa, thankfully we had cranberry sauce. While Chris Kimball has quite a few recipes for roast turkey, they all come down to one basic option; to brine, or not to brine. Brine will help ensure that the chicken is moist and tasty, but at the expense of crispy skin. Since I wanted a beautifully roasted bird, I chose not to brine.

Chris Kimball’s secret to perfectly rendered skin requires two additional steps. First, loosen the skin on your chest and legs. Use your fingers to work without skin, taking special care not to tear the skin. Using kosher salt under the skin performs the same basic function as brine, but it will not cause the skin to become sagging. Second, while the turkey is roasting the breast down, cover the back with sliced salted pork. Salted pork will provide a steady mix during the first few hours of cooking and provides additional flavor. This falls under the theory that bacon makes everything better.

The final results were 4 stars. The meat was a bit dry, mainly due to the logistics of finishing the turkey at 4 pm, for a dinner at 6 pm. But it was tasty, and the skin was perfectly crispy. However, I have noticed that the Thanksgiving crowd is generally a very forgiving group. The festive atmosphere overlooks any imperfections, and at dinner time a few glasses of wine make everyone even happier.

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Rating: 4 stars. Cost: $1.50, because the turkey was free. How much work? Low/Medium. How big is a disaster? Low/Medium. Start time 11:00 AM. Ready at 4:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. Descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

1 turkey (22 pounds), 3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 teaspoons baking powder 12 oz salted pork

  1. One or two days before dinner, remove the offal and neck and set them aside to make the sauce. Use your fingers to separate the skin from the turkey meat on the breast, legs, thighs, and back. Be careful not to tear the skin. Evenly rub 1 tablespoon of kosher salt inside the cavity, 1-1/2 teaspoons under the skin of each breast, and 1-1/2 teaspoons under the skin of each leg.
  2. Use plastic wrap to firmly cover the turkey. Place on a bordered baking sheet and place on the lowest rack of the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.
  3. Combine 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 2 teaspoons of baking powder in a small bowl. Unwrap the turkey and use paper towels to dry inside/outside the turkey.
  4. Use a metal skewer to prick fat deposits 5 times for each breast and thigh; a total of 20 times.
  5. Sprinkle the entire skin with the salt/baking powder mixture and use your hands to work on the skin. Bend the wings back and tuck them under the turkey.
  6. If you are going to stuff the turkey, cover the cavity with gauze and put 4 to 5 cups of filling inside, then tie the closed gauze with a kitchen string. Also, use kitchen string to tie your legs.
  7. Remove the crust from your salted pork, rinse and cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Place the turkey breast down on a V-rack and place the salted pork slices over the back of the entire turkey.
  8. Roast at 325 degrees for 2 to 4 hours; depending on the size of your turkey; until an instant-read thermometer reads 130 degrees on the thickest part of the breast.
  9. Remove from oven and increase oven to 450 degrees. Discard the spent salted pork and pour the drops from the roasting pan into a fat separator, which you can use for the sauce.
  10. Use clean tea towels or wads of paper towels to flip the turkey. Cut off the twine binding legs and remove the filling bag.
  11. Return the turkey to the oven and cook between 45 minutes and 1-1/2 hours until the breast registers 160 degrees and the thigh registers 175 degrees. Turn the pan halfway through cooking. When the skin becomes golden and crispy, transfer it to a carving board and let stand for 30 minutes.
  12. Cut the turkey and serve.
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This entry was posted on Friday, November 25th, 2011 at 6:15 pm and is filed under 2011 Recipe, Main Course. You can follow any response to this post via the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a reply or trackback from your own site.

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