5 Tips for Preparing the Perfect Turkey

Avoid making a dry, bland bird with these easy tips

Credit: shaiith

Make the perfect holiday turkey every time with these five simple tips

When the holidays come around, the expectation around the table is to have an incredibly juicy, tender and flavourful turkey as the centrepiece of a delicious meal. But sometimes, this happens. To avoid any Griswaldian mishaps, we caught up with Chris Mills, the Executive Chef of JOEY Restaurants, and got his tips for making the perfect bird.

1. Go Fresh Over Frozen

“I know this sounds like an obvious one, but it’s something so simple and it can make such a drastic difference. Freezing and thawing out your turkey can be very damaging to the meat. You lose fluids when you thaw the turkey out, and it can make a huge difference whether you have a dry or moist bird.”

2. Brine, Brine, Brine

“It’s no trend – it really does keep your turkey moist. Soak your turkey in a mixture of sea salt, sugar, your favourite flavours and water. It’s generally a 2:2 ratio of salt to sugar – a standard 12- to 25-pound turkey will require around two pounds of salt, and two cups of brown sugar. You will need a large container – a cooler works – to do this. Make sure your turkey is fully submerged. A small turkey should brine for around four hours while a large one should sit for six. Once complete, make sure to rinse the bird off thoroughly and let it dry before putting on a rub or stuffing it.”

3. Butter is Better

“Butter goes a long way; it adds flavour and a beautiful golden colour to your bird. Infuse it with herbs and rub it under the skin for extra yumminess.”

4. Watch the Size of Your Bird

“If you are having a large group of people over, you’ll obviously need a larger bird. However, consider cutting a part of your bird into sections that are the same size (take the legs off before roasting) and putting them in separate pans. This will allow you to monitor the cook time better. If you want to serve it whole and have it be the centrepiece, you may want to consider doing two smaller birds. This will keep them moist and they will cool down more quickly.”

5. Don’t Overcook the Turkey

“It sounds obvious, but turkey can be very temperamental and can overcook easily if you do not watch it. Use a thermometer to watch the temperature closely. You want to test the thickest parts of the turkey, like the thigh, as these takes the longest to cook. It’s important to remember that you will want to let your turkey rest before carving, as you don’t want to lose any of the juices. By letting it sit you are completing the cooking process and letting the juices redistribute. Remember, the turkey will continue to cook while resting, so watch the time it is in the oven.”

Chris Mills is the Executive Chef of JOEY Restaurants. He oversees the culinary department, finding inspiration from around the world while mentoring promising talent through the JOEY apprenticeship program. Chris encourages young chefs to achieve their Red Seal through teaching them different cooking methods.