Whether it’s calendar-specific small talk or something more sinister, turkey roasting always seems fraught with misinformation. Every website and person you ask has a different answer as to how to make the ideal turkey — times, temperatures, stuffings, seasonings and so on. Inevitably, the prospect of deep-frying or smoking a bird will come up.
We at Gear Patrol will not presume to know better or worse than anyone else regarding the best method to a well-roasted turkey. We will, however, clear up what you need in your kitchen to ensure the quality of the finished bird is on the chef and not their gear. From pink and soft to brown and crisped, these are the four true essentials of turkey-making.
Roasting Pan & Rack
The act of suspending the bird off the base of the roasting pan is one of the easiest things you can do to increase turkey goodness potential. When cooked while sitting on the tray or pan, the bird will wallow in its own juices, creating a turkey that’s half soggy and gray. Cooked off the pan, the bird’s drippings are collected below it, and heat may wick the skin of moisture and begin to develop the crackly skin that dreams are made of.
In the words of every chef who has ever lived: cook to temperature, not time. A temperature-tracking device of any kind is absolutely necessary to ensure a turkey that is both delicious and safely edible (165 degrees by the way, same as chicken). Also of high importance is an oven that keeps a steady temperature. This means keeping the oven shut for the entirety of the cooking process (ovens lose 50 to 75 degrees with a single door opening), which means temperature probes are ideal.
Large Cutting Board
Having an extra-large carving board is useful the other 364 days of the year, too. What’s the difference between a good carving board and a really big cutting board? The good ones have deep grooves around the edge to collect the juice runoff from your turkey (there will be a lot, regardless of how long you let it rest).
Carving knives should be thin, long and sharp. This is because a carving knife needs to get deep into large cuts of meat (an enormous bird, for instance) and have the ability to slice without destroying the meat. They should be mildly flexible, as the knife needs to give a bit to the curvature of the meat (animals aren’t squares).