The quest for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey recipe is one we’ve been on for what feels like decades. Some of our prelimary research was done at the dinner table as kids, chewing through impossibly dry hunks of breast meat and swearing that when we grew up, we wouldn’t inexplicably cook our turkey for five hours. These days, we’ve tried just about every method, from dry and wet brines, to deep-fried turkeys, mail order turkeys, prosciutto-wrapped turkeys, and more. But when we saw Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s hack for making moist, flavorful, golden-brown roasted turkey, we were surprised to see a method we hadn’t heard of before.
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It sounds (and looks) a little weird, but according to the Iron Chef, it’s the key to keeping your turkey skin flavorful without burning. The cheesecloth protects the skin and breast meat while it roasts, first at 450 degrees, then at 350. After your turkey has cooked for about two hours, you remove the cheesecloth so the butter-soaked turkey skin can crisp up. The turkey should be bronzed, burnished, and ready to eat when the temperature of the thigh meat is 160-165 degrees – use a digital meat thermometer to get an accurate reading, and make sure you don’t hit the bone.
In addition, Guarnaschelli simply seasons her turkey inside and out with salt and black pepper.
Her other turkey tip is a bit more controversial. Guarnaschelli opts to stuff her turkey with dressing. In recent years, many folks have eschewed stuffing their bird, as it can take a long time for the stuffing to reach a food-safe temperature inside the bird, and can also make it take longer for your turkey to cook.
However, if you do want to stuff you turkey, you can keep things food-safe by making sure the stuffing also reaches 165 degrees before you eat it. If the turkey finishes cooking before the stuffing reaches a safe temperature, you can remove the stuffing and put it in a baking dish to finish cooking while your turkey rests.
Did we mention that her stuffing recipe includes pork sausage, mozzarella cheese, and cubed pepperoni? Whether you use it to stuff you turkey or cook it in a separate pan, you’ve got to try Guarnaschelli’s recipe.
Before you go, check out these Ina Garten-Approved holiday gift ideas:
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