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10 turkey cooking commandments, part 2


Image: jdolenga/Flickr.com

Part 2 of 2. Read part 1 here.

6. Thou Shalt Not Open the Oven Door 9,865 Times While the Bird is Cooking

This one should be pretty self-explanatory. Resist the urge to check on the bird every 15 minutes.

7. Thou Shalt Let Thy Cooked Bird Rest Sufficiently

Much like the brining, this one is non-negotiable. When you carve up meat that hasn’t had enough time to rest, those delicious, flavorful juices are at a higher temperature and as such, are less viscous, allowing them to run out of the meat at a high rate of speed. Put an aluminum foil tent over that bird and spend some time sharpening your knife.

8. Thou Shalt Cut Thine Bird Properly

There are plenty of great guides for this on the Internet; just don’t forget to slice that breast against the grain.

9. Thou Shalt Use the Drippings and No-Salt Broth to Make the Gravy.

Gravy from a jar or packet is an abomination — end of story. You put all this work into a great bird and you should roll that success over into great gravy. Transfer your drippings through a strainer to a sauce pot and add any scrapings from the pan that your cooking vessel will allow. Brining a bird can result in drippings that are tad salty, so dilute your drippings with unsalted chicken or turkey stock to get the saltiness toned down while maintaining rich flavor. Then add your thickening agent. I prefer cornstarch, mixed with some cold white wine added to the drippings/stock mixture by tablespoons until the preferred consistency is achieved. Don’t forget that cornstarch doesn’t realize its full thickening potential until it reaches a full boil, and it will need to be stirred constantly so it doesn’t scorch. Good gravy is work, but it’s worth it.

10. Thou Shalt Get Leftovers in the Fridge in a Timely Fashion.

Yes, everyone is in a food coma after dinner but getting leftovers cooled down in a reasonable amount of time is important. Let foods that are still hot cool down a bit before packing them up. Keep lids loose if some of the things being put in the fridge are still a little warm. Allow for plenty of air circulation in the fridge so foods get cooled down quickly.

I’ll be cooking my fresh, reasonable-sized turkey that was raised, slaughtered and dressed by FFA Chapter members in Smith Valley, and I hope you enjoy the process as much as I will!

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