Alex Guarnaschelli Returns With Her Genius 'Butter Cheesecloth' Turkey Tip

There's nothing worse than a dry turkey. If you've ever watched "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," you will likely remember Clark Griswold carving into the family bird only to see it emit a small cloud of dust. There is nothing worse than serving your guests Sahara-like poultry that can only be swallowed with a gallon of gravy. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this sort of disaster. 

The turkey, by its very nature, is designed to dry out. Why? Food columnist, Kenji López-Alt, told NPR that white meat must hit a temperature of 150 degrees F, while dark meat should reach a minimum of 165 degrees F (or, ideally, 175). As a result, cooking them together leads to overdone white meat. For this reason, many chefs recommend cooking white and dark meat separately. Carving your turkey too soon can also rob it of valuable moisture. According to Cook's Illustrated, it is important to let your turkey rest for roughly 45 minutes in order for the juices to have a chance to soak back into its flesh. Another problem is that people tend to moisten the skin and not the meat. Jamie Oliver suggests pulling back the skin and spreading warm butter all over the flesh, including any "nooks and crannies."

Clearly, there are several ways to prevent your beautiful bird from being transformed into turkey jerky, but Alex Guarnaschelli offers up an astoundingly genius method that is bound to do the trick. 

Guarnaschelli borrowed this trick from Julia Child

When it comes to whipping up a juicy turkey, Alex Guarnaschelli turns to butter. Lots of it. In fact, in her Instagram video, she confesses to using a couple of sticks of butter on a 14-pound turkey. She may butter the rack, but the true game-changer involves a cheesecloth soaked in melted butter. Guarnaschelli folds her cheesecloth so it's a double-layered square, and completely dips it into the butter so it's highly saturated. She, then, places it over the white meat only, tucking it in where needed. This protects the breast meat while moisturizing it with butter. Leave the cheesecloth on for the first hour and a half of roasting. Remove it for the last 30 to 45 minutes, so the top will get a chance to brown. Ta-da. You've got a deliciously moist bird. 

While Guarnaschelli admits that she'd love to take credit for devising this technique, she says it was actually introduced by Julia Child. And she is not the only celebrity chef that has adopted this Julia Child turkey tip. In a Facebook video, Michael Symon employs a similar approach. Instead of using just pure butter, however, he mixes it with whatever liquor and spices he wishes. He soaks the cheesecloth and, then, wraps the entire turkey in it. 

There is, obviously, more than one way to cook a turkey. It's all a matter of experimenting and developing your own technique. Here's to a holiday free of turkey dust.