It’s Turkey Day
By Chef Michael Hayes
The autumn colors have shown, the cold weather is slowly creeping in, Halloween is gone and we are all getting geared up towards the greatest eating holiday in America…sauces, desserts, soups, turkeys, hams and roast beefs…mashed taters, sweet taters, yam pie, cranberry relish to name a few only to be followed by the and the inevitable power nap…
There is often a ton of questions for a chef when it comes to be this time of year, so I thought that this would be a good way to shed some culinary cheer to my old stomping grounds.
When buying whole turkeys under 12 lbs., allow 3/4-1lb. per serving.
When buying turkeys 12 lbs. and over, allow 1/2 to 3/4 lb. per serving
If you are buying just Turkey Breasts for let’s say a large event (because not too many people eat dark turkey meat) then decide on around 6-7 oz. per person.
Always stuff turkey just before roasting
Not ahead of time!!!!!
Nothing like foul fowl!! Ha-Ha
After cooking, allow the turkey to rest 15-20 minutes for easiest carving. This allows the juices to soak back into the meat; this process is called resting, it allows the tissues and cells to relax so that the juice subsides within the meat and not extracted when the meat gets sliced.
Cooking times at 325 degrees
6-8 lbs ------- 3 to 3 1/2 hrs
8-12 lbs.------ 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hrs.
12-16 lbs ----- 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hrs.
16-20 lbs. -----5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hrs.
20-24 lbs.----- 6 1/2 to 7 hrs.
This guideline is for cold or completely thawed turkeys, for best results check temperature to read 180 degrees at the thigh quarter.
If you do not have a thermometer, about 30 minutes prior to the end of your cooking time shake the drumstick up and down; the joint should give easily or break.
These times will vary for un-stuffed turkeys.
To cook immediately- Remove wrap, place in 325 degree
oven in a shallow pan. Cook for 1 hour. Remove neck,
and giblets from body cavity and wishbone. Immediately
stuff and return to oven.
To cook tomorrow- Leave in the plastic wrap. Wrap
turkey in 3-4 layers of newspaper; place on tray. Thaw
at room temperature, 1 hour per pound. Refrigerate or
Other- Thaw wrapped turkey in refrigerator. Turkeys
over 12 pounds may take 3-4 days.
By taking your fowl and brining it in a mixture of ½ cup of coarse salt to every gallon of water for 10 mins per pound, this will make your turkey juicier; through brining the cell walls are broken down and absorb the water. The salt in the brine also aids in extracting the blood from the meat and the bones. I prefer this method when cooking any type of whole fowl, especially if I am going to smoke
Within the past ten years or so, deep frying turkey has become more popular, especially in the south. Here are a few important things to remember when deep frying turkey.
Do not stuff turkey.
Internal temperature should be at least 180-185
Your oil should be between 325 and 350 degrees.
If you brine or marinate the turkey it is important to
pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
I like to rub the entire turkey, including the cavity with seasoning salt hours before I am going to fry the turkey. This is a dry brine method.
Allow 4 minutes per pound when deep frying your turkey
There are a variety of methods of injecting the turkey with flavor, and it is not as complicated as one would think. You can find meat injectors in almost any food/gourmet shop. The basic principle is that you inject flavor into the breast before deep-frying. You can use teriyaki, any of your favorite dressings or the meat marinades that invade the grocery store shelves, soy sauce, curry sauce…anything your little heart desires, the effects are phenomenal…
Happy Turkey Day!!!!
Chef Michael Hayes is the co-founder of RestaurantEdge.com and a 1979 Graduate of Manchester Twp. High School. Google “Chef Michael Hayes” to read some more of his often quirky explanations of his love and passion for food.