Amir, my roast chicken / turkey recipe has been in development for the past 20 years. I will explain the reasoning behind all the steps. From start to finish, it takes two days, and it differs from the above recipe in a number of key aspects.
The main thing is that the bird is injected with roast chicken stock (or turkey stock). This massively boosts the flavour and juiciness and makes it the most turkey-ish tasting turkey you have ever tasted.
- 4kg turkey
- 1.5kg chicken necks (preferably turkey necks if you can get it)
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 onions, diced
- 4 sticks of celery, sliced
- clarified butter
- caster sugar
- salt, pepper, water
1. Prepare the turkey. Remove the giblets, neck, wing tips, wishbone, and chop the ends of the drumsticks off (it will look nicer when it is served).
2. Make up a roast chicken/turkey neck stock. Roast the necks and the spare parts from the turkey until nicely browned, then pressure cook for 90 minutes in 6L of water with the carrots, onions, and celery. Strain the stock, squeezing out all the juice from the meat. Reduce the resulting stock down to 2L.
3. Prepare the skin. Boil up a huge stockpot of water (it has to be large enough to submerge the whole bird). Tie a string through the cavity of the bird to make it easier to lower into the boiling water and to fish it out. Submerge the bird in boiling water for 90 seconds, then refresh in your prefilled sink to stop the cooking. Reason:
pre-cooking the skin will make it crispier.
4. Calculate how much brine you will need. You will need 20% the weight of the bird in brine. For a 4kg turkey, this is 800mL of brine. Make this up with 600mL of reduced turkey stock and 200mL of milk. Reason:
the phosphates in the milk create an additional tenderizing effect over and above the addition of salt.
5. Calculate how much salt you will need for a 3% brine. For 800mL, you will need 24g of salt. Weigh this up and add to the brine, stirring to dissolve. Comment:
the above video is imprecise about the final salinity of the brine. The final salinity is VERY IMPORTANT.
6. Inject the brine into the turkey with a needle and syringe with the following ratios: 15% front left breast, 15% front right breast, 10% rear left breast, 10% rear right breast (=50% for breast alone), 15% left thigh, 15% right thigh, 5% left drumstick, 5% right drumstick (=40% for thighs), and the remainder into the wings, oysters, etc. Some brine will drip out - suck it back up and put it back into the turkey where you think it needs it. Reason:
you inject the brine instead of soaking it. The advantages are:
- you can introduce flavour molecules that are normally too large to enter the bird. In this case, the flavour from roast chicken stock.
- the brine penetrates more deeply into the bird than by osmotic brining.
- it works much faster than osmotic brining
- the skin is not brined. This is important because - as salt holds on to moisture in the meat, it also holds on to moisture in the skin. If your skin fails to dry out, you will not get crispy skin.
7. Thoroughly pat the skin dry and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight to dry out the skin and complete the brining process.
8. Mount the bird on a rotisserie and set your oven to 100deg C. It is usually necessary to truss the bird with string to the rotisserie. You will be slow roasting this bird. A bird this size takes about 4-6 hours to cook. Periodically baste the bird with clarified butter. After 3-4 hours, check the temperature of the bird with an instant read thermometer like Thermapen
. You want a final temperature of 65C (149F). Reason
: yes, this seems like a low temperature for the bird. This recommendation alone has gotten me into a lot of debates on cooking forums. Heston Blumenthal cooks his birds to 60C, and if it's good enough for Heston, it's good enough for me. Why rotisserie instead of a roasting pan? Because of even application of heat and distribution of juices when the bird is rotated. It will prevent the breast from drying out.
9. Remove your bird from the rotisserie and let it rest for an hour. At this stage it will look rather pale and unappetizing. Don't despair! Crank your oven to maximum and let it preheat for an hour.
10. While waiting, use the remainder of the stock to make a sauce. For this time of the year, I like to make a Sauce Ravigote
- my sauce substitutes turkey stock for demi-glace, and I usually omit the hard boiled egg.
11. Baste the bird in more clarified butter and sprinkle some salt and a light dusting of caster sugar on the skin. Wrap aluminum foil around the exposed drumstick bones to prevent burning. Return the bird to the rotisserie and roast until golden brown. This takes about 10 minutes. Reason:
the caster sugar helps with the Maillard process.
Because the bird has already been rested, it can be served immediately.
*yes I know the picture above is a roast chicken and not turkey. Sorry, but the turkey I made for last Christmas was a roulade and not a whole roast turkey!