Turkey 1.0

The following tips are from Tim So:

Brining: If juiciness is your goal and you don't mind being on the saltier side, I've got maximum juiciness using the following ratio (use more if needed):

3 quarts water,
1 cup diamond crystal kosher salt,
1 cup super fine granulated sugar,
1 cup rice wine. 

Mix it together with your hands, making sure to dissolves the sugar and salt crystals with your fingers.  Overnight brine is usually good enough, but even longer has yielded "right at the cusp of saltiness" kind of seasoning.  I think a lot of gourmet brine recipes are assuming you're also going to use finishing salt such as fleur de sel or sel gris, which no one in our church does.  If you want the turkey to smell like something, dry toast it in a skillet, then add it to the brine right now (sage, thyme, oregano are popular choices.  Use 1 tablespoon dried herb per 3 quarts water ).

***I'd warn against using acids and peppercorns in the brine, contrary to conventional brining wisdom, since it generally gives a "spammy" tinge to the meat.  If you want pepper, crack it fresh over the carved meat or add it to the gravy.  If you want that citrus taste, again, spritz right before serving: much more cost effective too.

Once you've got your brined bird, cook it however you want.  High heat roasting seems to be the zeitgeist, but I think it's generally more hazardous and also puts your bird at higher risk of overcooking.  I'd do 325 or 350 until the breast hits 155F at the coldest point (use an oven thermo to get in range, and an instant read to verify).  Dark meat actually tastes better at something like 170-180 when the fat gets melty, which is the perennial problem of whole bird roasting, so you can deal with that however you like (icing the breast, chopping off the legs and roasting them more, etc.)  Once the breast hits temperature, check the "problem areas" of the dark meat, which are typically the joint between the thigh and drumstick and the joint between the thigh and the rest of the bird to make sure they are also at least 155 at time of removal, but if you used one of the aforementioned tricks or my trick below, hopefully it's at 165 or greater when the breast is 155.
The one thing from the old post I still recommend is how to take advantage of the natural temperature gradient in the oven to ensure a properly cooked bird (meaning, a bird with differential white and dark meat temperature).  The goal is to put the dark meat close to the back wall and higher up where it's hotter while you put the breast towards the door and low where it's colder.  This generally means roasting breast side down.  You may not get as crispy of skin, but would you rather have a thin layer of nice skin and 10 pounds of nasty meat?  Plus, you can always crisp the skin using a blowtorch after the fact, or roast breast side up for the last 30 minutes.  If you do a high heat roasting method it actually accentuates the temperature gradient, which is the only thing I really like about high heat nowadays.
***Note on trussing.  The reason you truss is to turn the weirdly shaped bird into more of an oval, which will cook more evenly.  To that end, the goal is to put the thigh/drumstick joint closely touching (i.e. thermally conducting) with the narrower end of the breast so that this part doesn't get overcooked.  Otherwise, it doesn't really do anything: so if you find yourself trussing and that joint didn't end up on the breast since your turkey is absurdly fat or something, then you've probably messed up.  Oh well.
I know I previously said that stuffing is evil.  But, I think one thing I've found is that if you do it right, you can use it to thermally insulate the breast so that you can get the dark meat cooked faster, especially cooking breast side down.  I'll leave that up to you to figure out, though.
Tea-smoked Turkey (樟茶火雞)
I did this in my house's stove-top and it smelled like a sausage factory for 1 week.  Other than that wonderful experience, it also yielded a smoky turkey that tasted good.  If you can do this with a portable burner or grill in your backyard, that would probably be better

*You will need a roaster with rack and lid big enough for your turkey (by the way, this technique will probably ruin cheaper roasters for anything else, but since you do this once a year, why not?)
2 cups tea, pref. jasmine
2 cups flour
2 cups rice, preferably jasmine
2 cup sugar
Plus more as needed*
Double line your roaster with heavy gauge foil.  Mix up the smoking ingredients and layer them in the roaster.  Put your rack in there now, then put your bird on there breast side up.  Put the roaster on your heating element, whether stove top or gas grill or whatever, and heat up the roaster until you see smoke appearing.  Then turn the heat down until you get "some smoke" but not too much (or until the temperature is around 250F if you have a means to measure your roaster temp).  Put the lid on and use the foil to make a tight seal.  Remove when internal breast temperature is 155F, taking care to check temps as stated above in the roasting instructions.  One of the great things about this method is that, since the heat source is on the bottom, the dark meat will naturally cook faster than the breast.  Also, if you want to crisp the breast at the end, it's pretty straight forward to just transfer the whole rack to your oven and roast it uncovered for the last 30 minutes to get a nice, pretty looking skin while having your dark meat at the right temperature, all without having to flip the turkey around, which is a huge pain.  And it tastes like jasminetastic smoke too.
***Note: you may want to check on this thing after a couple of hours: if all of the smoking ingredients have turned into carbon dust, you may need to add more.


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