For more than 30 years, Peapod’s Tony Stallone has been the chef du jour for his family’s Thanksgiving celebration. While Stallone, vice president of Fresh Markets for Peapod, normally espouses the merits of all things produce, here he shares his best ideas for your holiday bird.
“More than 95 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving, and there are hundreds of ways to prepare your festive bird. I’ve got four foolproof tips for an incredibly moist and distinctively flavored turkey,” said Stallone, who comes from a long line of Italian cooks. “And don’t forget to pour a little love into your holiday dishes!”
Tony’s Turkey Tip #1
The single, most important turkey tip: brine your bird overnight, to prevent it from drying out during cooking. There are many brining solutions, but I like to keep it simple: 1 cup of kosher salt and ½ cup of brown sugar per gallon of water. Remember, the turkey needs to stay refrigerated at 40°F or below the entire time it is in the brine.
Tony’s Turkey Tip #2
My grandmother advises that you rinse the turkey, inside and out, after removing it from the brine. Poultry can contain a lot of bacteria and a thorough washing is a must. Pat the turkey dry and then massage the bird with balsamic vinegar. The vinegar, which is an acid, helps remove any remaining bacteria, lends a sharpness to the final flavor, and gives the bird a beautiful deep, rich color when cooked.
Tony’s Turkey Tip #3
Rub your bird with a compound butter (butter combined with any chopped herb, crushed garlic or chopped shallots) just before roasting. Then smear the entire turkey with fresh chopped herbs. This step adds the most wonderful, aromatic flavor.
Tony’s Turkey Tip #4
As a final step, melt some of the compound butter, soak a cheese cloth in it, and cover the breast of the turkey with the cloth. Put the turkey in a shallow roasting pan and tent with aluminum foil. Place in a 325°F oven and roast approximately 15-18 minutes per pound plain or 20 minutes per pound stuffed. Remove the foil and cheese cloth 1 hour before cooking time is up, to allow the breast to brown. Lastly, remove from the oven and let the meat cool for 20 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed for a flavorful and moist turkey!
Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings are available at www.peapod.com for home delivery, as early as two weeks in advance.