We asked some of our esteemed chefs around the state their opinion on cooking a local, Thanksgiving turkey. Here's what they had to say-
"I always brine the turkey first. I also stuff the cavity with an orange cut in half, a quarter of an onion and a few ribs of celery. And remember that a fresh Vermont turkey always takes less time to roast than a frozen commodity turkey."
--Chef Amy Chamberlain, The Perfect Wife
(Check the bottom of the page for Chef Amy's brine recipe)
"Traditional, traditional, traditional! Save your creativity for another day! Your family comes to expect certain things cooked the way they remember. Our biggest mistake was smoking a turkey one year- basted with Guinness beer. Absolutely delicious, but still our family was disappointed because they wanted a traditional turkey at home. Also, it is always a great idea to have your guests bring a dish so they feel they are contributing to the feast-- it also keeps you from slaving all day too."
--Chef Michael Kloeti, Michael's on the Hill
"It's all about the brine, a full 24hrs is best... 1 cup of salt dissolved in 1 gallon of water... After that feel free to improvise; I always like to add lots of savory herbs, peppercorns and fennel seeds, a few juniper berries and just a splash of cider. The only ratio that is important is the salt/water. I usually leave my turkey on the porch, wrapped up tight. If it gets too warm add a few ice cubes!!'
--Chef Eric Warndstedt, Hen of the Wood
"I cook my turkey covered in bacon. Seriously, I saw it on some TV special and since then have committed my life to spreading the gospel. Cover just the breast with sliced thick bacon and start the cooking at 450 degrees for the first 20 minutes. Bring the temp down to 350 and every 30 minutes keep bringing the temperature down 5 degrees at a time. When the turkey is finally done remove the bacon and use it in the gravy. Mmmmmm, bacon. I crisp up the skin with a little honey glaze for a final flash at 450."
--Chef Sean Buchanan, Black River Produce
Chef Amy's Brine Recipe
This will fill a bucket suitable for a large bird.
2 c. salt
2 c. brown sugar
1 lemon, sliced
8 cinnamon sticks
2 lg. Onions, sliced
Simmer all solids with 5 c. water.
Cool and add to large pail w/ 25c. cold water.
Immerse raw turkey and soak for 4 hours.
Pull out of brine and dry on a rack in the refrigerator. Cook or smoke as desired.