Now, turkey and I have not always been on speaking terms. My mother, who could turn a chuck steak into something approaching filet mignon, was hopeless with the big bird. Not surprising, since she came from a culture that once used fowl in its spectator sports - our Thanksgiving turkeys invariably had the interior texture of a soccer ball. At the time, I thought I just didn't like turkey, and choked it down smothered in gravy.
One day I had a revelation when a friend cooked up turkey perfection: juicy white meat, dark meat sliding off the bones...I resolved that henceforth, all turkeys would be like this one!
I learned that the challenge of perfect turkey is that it needs a different final temperature for the white meat (145) and dark meat (165) To make sure my turkeys are perfect every time, but still give you that Normal Rockwell moment at the table that we all crave, I came up with the following solution:
Step 1: Snip the Skin on the Drumstick
Step 2: Cut Between the Thigh and the Breast
Step 3: Snap the Backbone
Step 4: You Now Have a Two-part Turkey!
Step 5: Stretch the Remaining Skin to Cover the Breast and Drumstick
Step 6: Prepare Your Roasting Pan and Roast the Dark Meat
Roast the dark meat (You can even stuff the turkey - and the stuffing will cook properly! Just mound it in place before you remove the white meat and roast it with the dark meat) at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Step 7: Reassemble Your Turkey, Finish Roasting, Rest, and Serve!
Your turkey should rest for 20 minutes, tented with foil. At this point, you can move it carefully to a serving platter (if you've stuffed it, scoop the stuffing into a serving dish) and take off the skewers; the skin will stay put of its own accord after cooking. You will still need a small prop behind the turkey to rest the back of the breast, so keep a carrot or leek handy for this purpose.
Carving this beast is significantly easier since the work of separating white from dark is already done for you! Enjoy your perfectly-cooked turkey!
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