Lunchbreak: Expert Turkey Tips from PQM’s Rob Levitt

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Rob Levitt, Head Butcher and Chef at Publican Quality Meats

Publican Quality Meats

825 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

https://www.publicanqualitymeats.com

Recipe:

Recipe is for an average sized turkey (14-16 lbs)

Liberally season raw turkey with salt the night before cooking if possible. If you’re short on time, just season aggressively with salt before roasting (can add pepper as well, though this is optional)

Rob recommends cooking the turkey early in the day in order to allow it time to rest and reach room temperature before serving

  1. Preheat oven to 500 F
  2. In a roasting pan, assemble turkey on top of sliced onions and celery ribs – add the neck, giblets and a few thyme branches to the pan as well
  3. Place a probe thermometer in the meatiest part of the breast and roast at 500 F for about 25 minutes (until skin starts to blush a light golden brown)
  4. Turn oven down to 325 F and continue to roast until thermometer registers 155 — an average sized turkey (14-16 lbs) will take around 2 ½ – 3 hours
  5. Remove the turkey from the pan and let rest

Breaking down the bird and serving:

  1. First, remove the wings
  2. Then, remove the breasts whole and cut into thick (1/4 – ½” slices) – thicker slices stay moist and juicy, thinner slices dry out and get cold fast
  3. Finally, remove the leg quarters and separate drumsticks from thighs
  4. About 15-20 minutes before serving, put dark meat pieces back in the oven in a little bit of stock to reheat for about 10 minutes
  5. Then, place breast slices on top of the dark meat and return to oven for 5 minutes
  6. Assemble artfully on a platter and serve!

**Chef Rob does not usually brine his turkeys, but if you choose to do so, follow his recipe below**

A good basic ratio is 1 cup kosher salt:1 gallon of water. Bring this to a hard boil. You can add a bit of white or brown sugar, honey or maple syrup (about half as much sugar/syrup/honey as salt) to balance the salt, and any other aromatics you like. I often throw in a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, and some peppercorns, but feel free to get crazy! Cool the brine completely before submerging the turkey.

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