This just in…
In national news: Thursday is not just Thanksgiving. It’s the day millions of Americans will sit down with family to express gratitude, renew and revisit old arguments and grudges with insane relatives, and feast on dried-out, overcooked turkeys.
Since I love a good old-fashioned blood feud, I would never offer any advice on how to avoid familial conflicts. What would Monday’s return back to work be without gathering around the water cooler and comparing whose holiday was more dysfunctional? It’s the little things I so relish.
Of course, helping to rid the world of birds that are more foul than fowl has been, and will continue to be, is something I am most passionate about. Some people want to cure global warming. I want an international ban on those stupid little red pop-up thermometers that America has become so dependent upon.
Even more diabolical are the individuals who think their turkey must go in the oven at the crack of dawn and remain there until Black Friday. Who cooks like this, you ask? My ex-wife’s mother for one. Jesus. I count not having to endure my mother-in-law’s turkey as one of the biggest wins of being divorced.
To rid the world of shoe-leather white meat, I have a tradition of publishing the most sure-fire, perfect method of cooking a turkey known to man. Since its discovery about 12 years ago, I have been in charge of making the turkey for our family and have helped countless others see their way toward a better bird. As an extra added bonus (as if perfect meat wasn’t enough), it’s about the easiest recipe I’ve ever encountered. No basting. No elaborate stuffing. No magic rubs. It’s just you and your bird, baby!
So without any further fanfare, here’s the easiest way to ensure your bird is the talk of the town.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. What? That’s right. You heard me. 500 degrees. Trust me. Give in. Resistance is futile. Keep reading.
Wash the bird inside and out with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Your bird is the guest of honor at dinner, so you want it nice and clean. If your bird has one of those ridiculous plastic thermometers, take it out. You won’t need it ever again.
Stuff the bird with aromatic things like fresh rosemary, thyme, oranges and lemons. DO NOT PUT GRAMMY’S SAUSAGE STUFFING IN THAT CREVICE!
Rub the bird vigorously with salt and a little canola oil. How vigorously? Pretend you and Lady Cluck Cluck are a couple of daring 18-year-olds in the back seat of your Oldsmobile. Get frisky, man! Again, no sausage stuffing, please. This is foreplay, not Last Tango in paris!
Before putting the bird in the oven, mold a triangular foil shield, shiny side out, over the breast area. You’ll want to use thick foil and really press it to the shape of the bird. Once you’ve got the foil molded, pull it off and put it somewhere where it won’t get thrown out or crushed.
I know, the foil shield sounds like you getting your bird ready to blend in with the other 130,000 geeks who attend Comic Con. But making your bird look like an Area 51 dork is a big key to success, because this little trick allows the white meat to hide under that foil and cook at a lower temperature than the dark meat.
With the shield safely tucked away, stick it in that 500 degree oven for about 30 minutes to brown the skin and seal in the juices. After that, take the bird out and put the pre-molded foil shield on the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. That’s right, we take the oven temperature back to normal, so calm the f*ck down.
Pretty easy so far, right? It’s about to get easier. NO BASTING. That’s right. Do not open the oven for at least a few hours. Go make yourself a cocktail. Make two. Get your blood alcohol to a sufficient level so that you cannot be held accountable when you “accidentally” make a pass at your uncle’s new girlfriend.
All that remains is to give your bird about 15 minutes per pound to finish cooking. If you remember one thing it’s this: COOK BY TEMPERATURE, NOT BY TIME. When the breast meat is 165 degrees, your turkey is done. A turkey does not need to cook all day. Be sure to check in on your bird about 30 minutes before you think it will be done, because the 15 minutes per pound thing is an estimate, not scripture. You can always add more time but there is no going backwards. Once that breast meat hits the magic 165, you are done. Take it out of the oven, cover it to keep kitchen poachers at bay and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting.
When it comes time to cut your perfectly cooked turkey, be sure to take a look at how the pros do it. Regardless of whether he’s a self-proclaimed expert in Samurai swordplay, don’t let your brother-in-law carve it at the table. This video from Whole Foods shows you how to carve and present your masterpiece:
Follow these steps and your turkey will be awesome. And my life’s work will be that much closer to completion.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.