The Science of Thanksgiving by Alton Brown
What we love about Alton Brown isn’t hard to understand. After all, the man is not only extremely intelligent about food, but he is also very passionate (and a very snazzy dresser, too!). The best part? He is always eager to share his knowledge with interested learners. Not only does he offer The Daily Meal readers fabulous tips for managing their turkey on Thanksgiving Day, but he's also taking his know-how on the road! Be sure to check out Brown's second leg of his road tour, kicking off in the new year on Jan. 29. Until then, we give you a taste of some of his food wisdom:
Alton Brown's Turkey Tips
1) Bring it to room temperature an hour before cooking. This will actually cut down on the cooking time by making the bird's thermal trip shorter.
2) Let the cooked bird rest outside the oven for 20 minutes before carving. Remember, heat is like pressure and it'll squeeze the juice right out of the turkey if you cut it when it's still roasting hot. Resting will allow some of the juices to be retained in the meat.
3) Leave the stuffing out. Stuffing adds to the mass of the bird and therefor the cooking time. If you can't live without stuffing, cook it outside the bird and put it in while the turkey rests so it can absorb the juices.
4) Don't bother basting. Basting does not make meat juicy. After all, skin is designed to keep things out. It's like a raincoat. Basting only makes the skin taste good… nothing wrong with that but all that door-opening lets out heat and slows the cooking process which results in drier meat.
5) Buy Frozen. I find that a straightforward frozen "natural" Tom in the 16-pound range gives me the best bird. I don't mess with fancy "heritage" birds, or those injected buttery things or kosher birds which just make you pay for water weight.
Alton Brown’s Tips for Frying a Turkey
When it comes to frying something big like a turkey there are a few things to keep in mind. Always make sure your fry rig is in an open area and away from flammables. You should not do this in a garage or on a deck or under any kind of overhang. Never fill a pot more than half full of oil. Once the bird is in and submerged, the oil line will rise considerably and remember, when the turkey first goes in there will be a lot of foaming up and that could cause overspill, which is a bad thing. Make sure that the bird is completely thawed and dried off with paper towels, as water and oil do not mix. Use a thermometer to monitor the oil temp and always have a fire extinguisher handy. I've never needed one personally, but I know deep down that the first time I don't have one is the time I'll need it.