Turkey Tips

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Defrosting: If you intend to brine a frozen bird, defrost it in the fridge by submerging it in the brine for two days before cooking.

Brining: This disrupts the muscle tissue, tenderizes the dark meat and adds flavor. Soaking the turkey in a light brine (3 to 6 percent salt by weight) for a day or two will give a juicier result.

Dry-salting: Except for light brining, all salting draws water from the meat. It also adds flavor, kills bacteria and breaks down proteins, reducing the cooking time and making the meat seem juicier. If you don't have time for brining, dry-salt the turkey with about 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt per pound for about 18 hours.

Pre-cooling: By icing the breast before cooking while letting the rest of the bird come to room temperature, you reduce the risk of undercooked legs and overcooked breast.

Basting: Doing so with fat will speed cooking. Doing so with water (or defatted cooking juices) will slow cooking. Just as important is the accompanying opening of the oven door, which reduces the temperature and gives the meat a brief break.

Injecting: By injecting the bird with juices after cooking, you return some of the lost moisture and fat. Quite a bit of it will run out again, but enough will remain to be worth the effort.

Resting: This allows the liquid and gelatin in the meat to set, increasing juiciness. Allow at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.

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