A New Technique For Cooking The Thanksgiving Turkey

I caught the end of an interesting cooking tip on the radio the other day that really got me thinking about how I prepare my Thanksgiving turkey. It’s one thing to grab a bird from the store and toss it into the oven, but more thoughtful preparation almost always makes for a better tasting meal.

For example, these days almost everyone I know is trussing their bird; I always take the extra step to brine it before I throw the turkey in the oven to add flavor and keep the meat tender and juicy. But the story I caught the tail end of on the radio had me thinking about a whole new technique to try this year.

I’m sure most of you know that one of the biggest challenges of cooking a turkey is to not overcook the turkey breasts while making sure that the legs get all the way up to temperature. The gentleman on the radio made a really simple suggestion: while bringing the Thanksgiving turkey up to room temperature, try putting ice bags on the turkey breasts before you put the bird in the oven. That way, he said, the legs will get up to temperature faster than the breasts and reduce the chances of drying out the meat.

What a brilliant idea. But since I missed the beginning of the segment, I needed to do a little more research. When I finally did find an article on the Web it wasn’t all surprising that the man behind the ice-packs-on-the-breast-turkey-technique was none other than Harold McGee, one of the smartest food science writers around.

Needless to say, I can’t wait to see if this trick works. I’ll be testing the preparation technique later this week and posting the results here.