- From the Test Kitchen
- Season 1
- Episode 168
Maple Butter-Glazed Turkey That Will Upgrade Your Thanksgiving
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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