Are you worried about the holidays? One of America's leading chefs, Jim Coleman, tells you how to create the perfect holiday turkey.
To get a more flavorful turkey, instead of defrosting the bird in plain water, you can begin with brining the bird in a saltwater solution. Brining will give the turkey a deeper flavor and more tender taste, and the process will assist with defrosting.
Chef Coleman recommends using kosher salt or sea salt instead of plain table salt for brining, and adding ice to keep the turkey cool duirng the process.
"When I first heard about brining, I laughed at the idea. I thought it was silly and unnecessary, that is, until I tried it for myself. Now, I brine my turkey before roasting every time," said Coleman.
You can use a large stockpot, or small cooler as Chef Coleman does, to hold the turkey while brining, which can take anywhere from 16 to 24 hours depending on the size of the bird.
After brining the turkey is completely defrosted, the next step is to season and stuff the bird.
Keep in mind that brining tends to add a lot of flavor, so you may not need to season quite as heavily. Simply place a few fresh herbs beneath the skin, like rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley.
When stuffing, it is important not to pack the stuffing too tightly to ensure the turkey cooks thoroughly. During cooking, blood from the turkey will pass from the bird into the stuffing, and if the turkey is too tightly packed, heat will not be able to pass through properly to cook the stuffing completely and kill any bacteria.
"I have never been a fan of stuffing a turkey because bread is not a natural conductor of heat and it is almost impossible to not overcook the turkey if you want to make sure the stuffing is safe to consume. Instead, I cook my stuffing separately and place a few lemons inside the turkey during cooking. The bird's natural juices are allowed to flow freely and the lemon adds a wonderful flavor."
After you have properly thawed, seasoned and stuffed the turkey, it is now time to cook the bird.
In a conventional oven, it can normally take 3 3/4 to 4 1/2 hours to fully roast a 12 pound turkey at 325 degrees, with periodic basting. However, with convection, you can roast your holiday turkey almost 25 percent faster, reducing cooking time and eliminating basting altogether.
Almost every convection oven features Convection Bake and Convection Broil, however, the Dacor Renaissance and Discovery Wall Ovens and Epicure Dual-Fuel Ranges also feature Pure Convection which circulates heat thoughout the oven cell to reduce cooking time and provide more even heating. A fan and baffle filter are placed in the rear of the oven behind the wall to help eliminate flavor transfer. So, you can slide your Peach Cobbler into the oven with the turkey during the last 45 minutes without worry.
"I always use convection when I roast and with Pure Convection, my turkey cooks evenly and comes out of the oven, moist and flavorful and a beautiful golden brown," said Coleman, who suggests letting the turkey rest for 30 to 45 minutes before slicing.
- 12 lb. Fresh Whole Turkey, giblets & neck removed (washed in cold water inside and out)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Thyme, save the stems
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Rosemary, save the stems
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Sage, save the stems
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced Garlic
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Shallots
- Black Pepper to taste
- 3 whole lemons
Pull the skin away from the meat at the neck of the bird. Mix together the thyme, rosemary, sage, shallots and garlic. Using your hands, rub the herb mixture onto the meat under the skin to completely coat the top of the turkey. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the entire turkey. Stuff the stems and the remaining two lemons into the cavity of the turkey.
Place the turkey into a 350-degree oven and cook 15 minuts per pound or until the juice runs clear when the turkey is poked with a knife at the base of the leg. Allow to rest 15-20 minutes before slicing.