Thanksgiving Turkey Tips from Top Chefs

Thanksgiving is upon us, and so, too, is the time where grocery shopping, meal prepping, and all the holiday guets and family members descends upon your kitchen. 

All of this is a daunting task. So instead of worrying about whether your turkey will be dry—or burnt to a crisp—take some tips from the pros:

“I debone my whole turkey and then smoke it for about six hour with mixed woods to get additional depth in flavor—and it makes for tastier leftoer turkey sandwiches.” —Wesley Shaw, executive chef of Presidio Social Club, San Francisco

“Skip roasting the bird whole and cook each part individually to ensure perfectly cooked meat. For juicy breast meat, steam the seasoned turkey breast in plastic wrap—this captures the juices to be used later—and when it’s close to done, unwrap the bird and spread a compound butter with finely minced herbs like oregano, rosemary and thyme, and roast in a hot oven so the skin is perfectly crisp and delicious. For the turkey legs, confit them low and slow in a mixture of olive oil and duck fat, plus herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, garlic and bay leaves. And for the wings, think outside the box and do something different: coat them in olive oil and marinate with adobe seasoning, paprika, lemon zest and whole pepper corns and throw them on the grill. And don’t forget to use those broken down bones to create a delicious gravy!” — Jesus Nunez, executive chef of The Sea Fire Grill, New York City

“I live in an apartment with a small oven, so I spatchcock my turkey. Spatchcocking takes it from being this big, round object to flattening it to a 3” roast—which cooks a lot faster, fits in a smaller oven and results in crispier skin. I also usually end up cooking a second protein in addition to the turkey. This year I’m opting for a pork loin. I use the same brine for both the turkey and the roast, so I double up to make a larger batch and brine both proteins separately.” — Nate Anda, executive chef and head butcher at Red Apron, The Partisan, EatBar and B Side, Washington, D.C. 

“The best way to go about the turkey is to debone the entire thing and separate the dark meat from the white meat. To infuse extra flavor, marinate the turkey at least a day in advance in a mixture of oregano, thyme, rosemary, chopped garlic, salt and pepper.” — Arturo McLeod, executive chef of Benjamin Steakhouse Prime, New York City

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