I remember my Mom used to cook a mean turkey. We loved those holiday long weekends where Mom would spend hours in the kitchen and produce this amazing golden, juicy turkey. I can't re-create that turkey magic to save my life so I asked David Weslowsky, CMH Valemount's Executive Chef if there's any hope for me. He assures me there is and suggested these four turkey saving tips.
Be sure to thaw your turkey out a couple of days in advance so you're not chipping ice off it at 5am Christmas morning. The meat benefits from a slow thaw and then being slowly brought to room temperature before preparing and putting it in the oven. This will result in an evenly cooked and much more tender turkey.
Brined meats are all the rage these days, David assures me. Prepare a lovely bath for your turkey with lots of salt and a bit of sugar, herbs, garlic, onion etc. and let your turkey rest in there before the final prep. David suggests the last half hour to two hours of thawing can be done in a room temperature brine.
Every chef tells me the secret to good food is either butter, bacon or beer (the 'B vitamins' they say). This process used to be called barding. In this case, David suggests covering the breast of the turkey with really good bacon. This will add flavor and juices to the breast meat while protecting it from the direct heat of the oven. You can remove the bacon to brown the breast meat during the last stage of cooking.
4. No Peeking!
Once you put your turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to check on it. Don't worry - it won't run away or get into trouble like my toddler. Start and finish the bird with direct dry heat for half an hour at the start and half and hour to finish but during the middle cooking time cover the bird with tin foil to allow it to moist heat cook. Every oven is different and you can play with the temperatures, David likes to start the bird at 400f then turn it down to 300f for the remainder of the cooking time. When using this method will your cooking time will be approx. 20 minutes per pound of turkey. (ie a 20lbs turkey will need to cook for 6hrs). After 6hrs in the oven the meat has worked hard and it is very important to remember to let the turkey rest for up to one hour before carving to allow it to hold it’s juices in the meat. If it is too hot when being carved it will push out it’s juices as the meat constricts from the heat.
So, there you have it. Add a little cranberry sauce, some mashed potatoes, yams, and roasted veggies and you're ready for a Christmas dinner even better than what Mom made.
To sample Chef David's cooking first-hand, gather some friends and join him for a week of private Heli-Skiing at CMH Valemount Lodge. Small group Helicopter Skiing in BC based from an exclusive private lodge with access to some of the world's best powder.
Have a Heli of a Holiday from all of us at CMH.