“It’s the secret to perfectly juicy Thanksgiving turkey.”
Dry turkey is a Thanksgiving woe that we all know too well. And whoever in the holiday gathering is bestowed the task of baking, smoking, or otherwise preparing the central focus of this highly anticipated annual meal will certainly feel the pressure. From picking out and preparing a promising bird to checking on it at every stage of the cooking process, there are a lot of delicate factors to making sure your turkey doesn’t dry up on the plate and in everyone’s mouths later that night – and a lot of tiny mistakes that can throw the whole thing off.
Even cranberry sauce can’t save a dry turkey. That’s why it’s so important to get it right the first time.
There may be many methods tried and true by those born with kitchen magic, but not everyone cooking a turkey this year is a culinary expert – or has the time and expertise to avoid any tiny mistake at every little step along the way. But there’s one trick that chef and Food & Wine’s culinary Director-at-Large, Justin Chapple, calls not only ‘genius but fail-proof…
Rubbing the bird from head to toe, inside and out – with mayonnaise.
We know, the sound of this may put many people off. But this is about results, and since Thanksgiving is TODAY (and a happy day to you all!), we figured many of you might be struggling to find the one recipe you can count on. Well, this is it – and weird or not, it is undeniably delicious.
Justin makes sure to always add a tablespoon of freshly chopped thyme, 3 grates cloves of garlic, and the zest of a whole lemon (whose actual fruit should be chopped and saved for later) – but for a bit of a kick, he also throws in minced chipotle chiles. The mayonnaise will crisp and leave no trace of its original taste, but gives you the final product of a Turkey lacking nothing.
Follow these instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees!
2. Loosen the skin ~ the mayo is being rubbed on the outside and inside of the skin, for extra juicy meat. Slowly and carefully slide your fingers between the skin and the breast & thights.
3. Fold the wing tips back ~ this allows the turkey to heat ideally.
4. Slather that mayo ~ but don’t just use your hands, because that will waste lots of the slather! Using a spoon, place it in between the meat and skin every few inches, and use the skin to scoop it out. Then place your hands on the outside of the skin and distribute it all around by rubbing lightly. Then use the back of the spoon to spread the remaining mayo all over the outside. The ratio should be 50/50 of the slather inside and outside.
5. Season it ~ on top of the mayo, sprinkle plenty of salt and just enough pepper.
6. Stuff it ~ take a whole head of garlic (cut horizontally in half) and stuff them into the turkey, then tie the legs together with twine.
7. Roast it ~ this should be done in 2 rounds: for 30 minutes at 425 degrees, and for another 1 hour 15 minutes on 350 degrees.
8. Check the temp ~ for the last 15 minutes, stick a thermometer in the inner thigh to make sure it’s 165 degrees.
9. Let it rest, then carve it up! ~ the bird should sit for 30 minutes before any knife touches it.
Pro-tip: Keep aluminum foil handy
A quickly browning turkey is no problem; just keep calm, wrap it up in aluminum foil, and carry on.