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Maple Butter-Glazed Turkey That Will Upgrade Your Thanksgiving

Join Chris Morocco in the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen as he makes his maple-butter-glazed turkey recipe.

Get the recipe: Maple-Butter-Glazed Turkey

Released on 11/17/2022


Turkey's like never been my favorite thing

but to me this is like dangerously close to perfection.

[gentle festive music]

So, today we're making maple butter glazed turkey

because it's Thanksgiving.

This approach roasts in pieces,

browns and cooks more evenly,

is easier to carve and it's on the table that much faster.

So, a dry brine for like a 12 to 14 pound bird,

I'm using two thirds of a cup

of diamond crystal kosher salt.

If you were using Morton kosher salt

you'd want to use about half of that amount,

a tablespoon of black peppercorns.

I'm just gonna grind them up.

It's really nice to use fresh.

But listen, if you got pre-ground, that's fine.

[grinder whirring]

I'm then gonna use garlic powder.

When you're adding that much salt to something

a little bit of sugar is nice

because it has a way of rounding out that salinity.

It's going to literally caramelize in the oven.

So we're gonna break down the turkey.

This is where you really have to set yourself up for success

'cause like we're about to get straight Dexter

on this thing.

Part of breaking down a turkey or any bird for that matter

is knowing where to expect to find bone.

If you simply cut down right here,

flush with the edge of the breast,

you're gonna hit solid upper wing bone.

You need to pull the wing out and cut in

as a way of exposing the wing joint

because it's buried inside the breast.

So like it's deep in there, but if you go in with the point

you'll have a much better time separating it.

Removing the legs, like it's a little bit more intuitive.

You'll see like that natural spot

where the two things wanna separate.

You know the legs are literally just being held on,

you know, by like less than you would imagine,

but you just wanna leave more skin on the breast

relative to the inside of the thigh.

At this point, pulling the leg open to expose the joint,

flip the turkey over and I'm gonna only cut

as much as I need to to kind of get around the oyster,

kind of scoop it away from the backbone.

And then I'm just following the line of the backbone,

and I'm pulling as much as I'm cutting.

So let's see it on the other side.

Really trying to preserve more skin

on the breast as much as I can.

Once I'm down to about where the joint is,

I'm just pulling it open

and I'm just carving along the backbone.

Now this is not a bad place to be.

It looks a little crazy,

looks like you know a prop from like Predator,

all right, the first one, one of the best films ever made.

You could stop here

and it would not be the end of the world.

But let me tell you something,

like you are so close and you've got this, okay?

Because basically at this point you can all

but break the lower part of that spine,

and then a knife to finish it.

You can then use this for stock.

If you want to go a step further,

you can cut down on either side of the spine.

Give yourself a little margin,

so that you're not really going through solid vertebra.

You're just going through the back of the ribs

which are pretty thin and then you can pull that out.

These more heavy duty kitchen shears

are great at a couple things.

One is helping you break down turkeys and chickens.

The other is cutting up pizza.

I don't know, I'm just like a scissors guy.

Call me crazy.

So going through, you know, on either side of the backbone,

I'm just gonna trim these bits of rib

just so that this sits a little bit flatter.

Yeah, so there's our turkey in parts

and we're gonna season it up now.

I wanna just be like pretty intentional

about what I'm doing.

I don't necessarily need to use every last bit of this.

It's okay to have excess fall onto the baking sheet below.

This is gonna go into a fridge

where it's gonna sit uncovered one to like 24 hours.

You know, you could truly season this an hour in advance,

let it sit out, and then go right into the oven,

and I think it's still gonna be better

than most classic roasted birds.

All right. So this turkey has been seasoned

and has sat overnight for a day.

It's like a fair amount of liquid has come off of it.

Now this is an ultra concentrated brine at this point.

If the turkey were sitting directly in this,

it would almost cook the meat.

So you don't wanna have the turkey sitting directly in it.

You want to elevate it above it on a rack

I'm just gonna put a cup of water

in the bottom of the baking sheet.

That is so that in the early stages

as individual drips of fat and juices

come down onto the baking sheet, they don't burn.

It just gives you a little bit of insurance

that again you'll be able to save

all of that wonderful fond that forms

as the turkey is roasting and to be able to deglaze it

and use it as the base of gravy.

So next, just a really light drizzle of neutral oil,

olive oil would be totally fine,

that I'm gonna pat onto the meat.

It's just gonna help us with that initial period of browning

before the fat in the turkey itself has started to render,

and it's gonna mean we're getting better browning sooner.

You can really just do the top.

So this is gonna go into the oven at 425.

It's nice to have the rack in the lower part of the oven

just so that the turkey's not too close to the top there.

All right and we're gonna let that go

for like 20 30 minutes

until we start seeing some browning happening.

So this is a maple butter glaze.

Just something that's like basically

like adding a layer of sweetness and a final blast of flavor

to just completely surround the turkey.

I'm gonna use a stick of butter.

Got maple syrup, but you gotta use the good stuff here

like actual maple syrup.

Soy sauce.

Rice vinegar is just a wonderful all purpose,

very balanced, not super harsh vinegar.

This is just gonna balance some of that sweetness

just so it doesn't become cloying.

Then finally, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.

I feel like this is kind of one of those

like secret weapon ingredients

that sort of hides in plain sight.

A couple sprigs of fresh thyme.

Gonna bring it up to kind of a simmer

and take it down until it's gonna coat a spoon.

Get, you know, a little bit kind of like glazy.

It looks a little bit like a loose caramel

and that's what we're going for.

So is it glazeable?

Here's what we're looking for.

So this is nice.

See how like this browning has like started to happen?

All right. It's also happening a little bit unevenly

like I'm already gonna go ahead and rotate this

for when it goes back in.

But that's kind of what we're looking for.

The skin is dry, tight, and it's starting to turn golden.

Also at this point do not forget,

turning the heat down to 300.

When you lower the heat

after you've gotten your initial good browning,

you're gonna kind of open up a bigger sweet spot

in terms of nailing the internal temperature of the turkey

and not letting it overcook.

Pastry brush.

Don't try to kill it with glaze in the first pass.

As long as it just gets like a pretty thin even coat

over everything, multiple smaller passes,

you're gonna build up the layers of glaze.

That is the surest path to success.

All right, turkey's going back in.

So we're gonna check back periodically,

and reapply the glaze, and build it up.

All right.

Honestly, just like pull the turkey out.

Glaze it top side.

It'll preserve the heat in your oven a little better.

Two glazings, three glazings, four glazings.

Use the amount of glaze you have in a few layers

and also I'm just gonna check in on the temperature here.

Just curious like where we're at internally.

It's at 130 right now.

So I'd say like probably one more glaze

and we should be good.

Okay, yeah. This looks pretty amazing.

It's looking really rendered, crispy.

It smells incredible.

Just like with any, you know, roast meat, especially turkey,

something bigger needs to rest

before we can even think about carving it.

So 30 to 60 minutes is a great time to make your gravy.

And it takes advantage of this literal liquid gold.

All right. So there's all this brown delicious goodness

baked onto this baking sheet.

The best way to loosen it is to just throw some water on it

and just throw it back into the oven for like five minutes.

It's just gonna help kind of steam all that stuff off

and you want to capture every last bit of it.

Now while that is in there loosening up,

we're gonna make our roux.

So butter's going in.

Butter is completely melted, flour's going in.

Whisk these together.

See how the fat, that butter is starting

to kind of like sizzle around the edges here?

It's just telling me that flour

is actually gonna be starting to toast here

and cook out a little bit.

All right, so while that's cooking

I'm just gonna grab out our deglazed roasting sheet.

Oh yeah, this is like lifting right off.

All right.

Now the flour now smells

a little bit like lightly toasted almonds.

I wanna put a decent amount of wine in this gravy.

Whisk it to incorporate any lumps of roux

that might be left behind and then cook out that wine.

So I'm gonna crank the heat right up here

and I basically wanna reduce this down as fast as possible.

There's no need to go slow here.

Wine is very much reduced.

This is the moment to put our deglazed drippings in.

Don't worry if there's like ground bits going in.

Some of that's gonna continue to soften

and loosen up as this cooks.

Store bought broth is fine for this purpose.

So now that all the liquid is in,

I can put the roux in

and it's not gonna seize up on me, right,

and turn this instantly into sludge.

And I'm gonna whisk this together to avoid lumps.

It's gonna dissolve that sort of fatty starchy mixture

and I can already feel it getting a good bit thicker.

One thing to note,

a roux is only gonna fully activate

at the point at which the mixture is bubbling.

It's gotta be bubbling in order for it

to get all of the benefit of the starch you've put in.

We can just kind of like let that go at a slow roll.

I'm just gonna check in on the flavor here.

So the biggest thing that we're missing here is salt.

Ideally you're gonna let this cook for like 20, 30 minutes

until the flavors kind of meld and intensified.

Gravy's been going.

It's thickened up a little bit.

It's reduced down a little bit.

It's got like really nice body to it.

I think we can go right to the boat.

We've already done most of the work.

The main thing here is carving the breast.

So I'm basically carving

just to the side of the main keel bone

that runs down the length of the breast.

When you've prepped the turkey like this,

it just kind of wants to come away in one piece.

It's pretty awesome.

And again, I'm going on the other side of that keel bone

that sort of runs the center.

If you try to go right down the middle

you're just gonna hit that bone,

and it's not gonna be as clean a cut.

I don't really like a carving fork,

I just feel like you're just stabbing your meat

over and over you lose control.

You have so much more control with your hands.

Cut the breast into nice even slices.

And the skin is so nicely rendered and crisp

that it actually stays on the meat.

It's not like just kind of like flying off

or like rolling away.

So I'm just carving all the way down the length.

Okay, we lost one piece of skin, big whoop.

So you've got really juicy meat.

You can see it's still kind of like really succulent.

You've got rendered fat under the skin.

The skin itself is very crisp,

obviously very evenly golden brown.

This technique and letting the bird rest,

I don't have juices pooling all over the place here.

Like nobody has to eat piping hot turkey.

You do this a little bit in advance, it's fine.

And there's nothing really to be done with the dark meat

other than, you know, you can separate

the drumstick from the thigh.

Again, just knowing like where to cut.

Just that seam where the two things meet is the key.

Also, like I don't always necessarily

put out all the turkey at once.

Don't overcrowd it just for the sake of looks, you know?

Pulling out just like kind of a mid slice here

and then a little pour of gravy.

Gravy's going on real nice.

Turkey has retained like a lot of moisture.

Then when you get a piece of that lacquered skin,

I mean it's so completely rendered and toothsome.

I think like we did something really special

with that glaze.

And then I think in here, like that's where like,

you know the skin is gonna be like crispy in a way

that you're just not used to experiencing.

Like that little bit with the oyster.

I've seen a lot of that seasoning,

a lot of heat rendered,

and then picked up the lacquer,

I mean, it's like, it's a really nice mouthful.

Yes, you gotta do a little bit

of extra work on the front end,

all right, in order to roast it in parts,

but the carving process is so much easier.

The color and the flavor you're able to capture

from that turkey is so much better.

Honestly, it's my new default go-to.

You'd have to make a pretty convincing argument

to ever keep a turkey whole for roasting.

But I don't know, there's always next year.

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