TURKEY TOOLS

DOES IT WORK?
The Cuisipro Lifter ($19.95 at Hills Kitchen)

The holidays are upon us once again, so I decided to see what was new for preparing your holiday turkey. For the past 13 years, I have been hosting Thanksgiving at my house for family, friends, and strays unable to make it home for this non-partisan holiday. Over the years, I have cooked traditional turkeys, vegan “turkeys”, turkey breasts and turkey stew. While I didn’t find anything revolutionary to prepare and serve that Thanksgiving bird a la the Jetsons , I did try some handy gadgets that claim to make your turkey more moist & flavorful, neater to truss, and easier to get from roasting pan to presentation platter. I do admit that while I was very tempted to try out the $120 turkey fryer I saw at Fragers, my husband put the kabash on that. Why on earth wouldn’t he want me to fry a turkey in gallons of hot oil on our 2’x2’ wooden deck? I totally would NOT have burnt the house down. So here’s what I did try.

Flavor Injector/Baster ($6.99-$30+ at Fragers and Hill’s Kitchen)

I had heard of flavor injectors before – these are essentially syringes that inject a marinade directly into the meat of the turkey to make it moist and very flavorful.  The one I purchased was a flavor injector/baster in one. Since the turkey baster I had been using for years was really made up of mis-matched parts of basters past, I thought this new gadget would, at a minimum, be an improvement over what I already had.

To use, you easily screw the syringe top onto the end of the baster, and suck up the marinade from the saucepan.  You then stab the turkey with the needle, and squeeze the ball top of the baster to inject the marinade into the meat. Sounded simple enough – though none of the injectors came with instructions for how much marinade to inject at each stabbing, or how much marinade total for the six pound breast I was cooking.

I found an easy recipe online with ingredients I already had on hand – butter, salt, dried herbs and beer. What’s not to love? I melted the butter and added the rest of the seasonings in a small saucepan and had the naked turkey in the roasting pan beside me. I depressed the ball of the baster into the saucepan and sucked up a barrel-full of marinade. Unfortunately, that’s where it went horribly wrong. The injector was clumsy and messy to use. Each time I tried to get the injector from the saucepan to the turkey, it spit marinade at me and my kitchen. Each time I sucked up marinade and then leveled it to inject the turkey, it ejected marinade with force. There was marinade all over my kitchen, and all over me. But I did manage to inject about half of the marinade into the bird and it looked all puffed up like the Good Year tire man. Because the turkey looked so full, I decided not to stuff it.

The turkey took significantly longer to cook than I had calculated, and there were deep pockets of marinade that had congealed throughout. The meat that was edible was very moist and flavorful – I think if I knew the correct proportions, injecting a marinade would have been successful. What I learned – this gadget takes a lot of practice, so I wouldn’t wait until Turkey Day to try it for the first time.

Brining Bag ($8.95 for the bag/$8.50 for Spiced Brine Blend at Hill’s Kitchen, $6.99 for bag at Fragers)

I had also heard that brining a turkey does wonders for the flavor and moistness of the meat. The brining seemed simple enough – it was a huge, heavy-duty plastic bag to which I added salt, sugar and water. These directions were much easier to follow, and the size of the turkey was accounted for in how much of each ingredient you put in the bag. Brining is supposed to flavor the meat as it tenderizes it – kind of like a turkey ceviche.  As advised, I placed the bag in a pasta pot with the turkey in it, and stuck that in the fridge for about 24 hours. Before putting in the oven, I thoroughly washed the turkey of the brine and generously buttered and peppered the skin. I also didn’t stuff this turkey – I wanted to be able to compare the results with the injected turkey.

WOW. This was the best turkey I have ever prepared. The meat was juicy and moist, and very flavorful, without being too salty. It cooked perfectly in a little less time than I had calculated, and the juices didn’t flow out each time I inserted the meat thermometer, like the injected turkey did.

And From Pan to Platter – Cuisipro Lifter ($19.95 at Hills Kitchen)

No matter how your turkey turns out, getting it from the roasting pan to the platter can often be a puzzler. There are large forks you can jam into the sides of the turkey to lift it up, but this pierces the meat and loses precious juice out the tine holes. Years ago, my mother gave me a lifter that you placed the turkey on to roast, and it lifted the turkey great. But there was no way to get the turkey off of the lifter without rolling it onto the platter. I gave up using that lifter the year the turkey rolled off the lifter, off the platter, and into the sink. But the Cuisipro lifter is ingenious – there is a long pin that holds the two sides of the lifter together underneath the turkey. You just lift the turkey out of the pan and place it onto your platter. Then, you slide out the pin and the two sides cradling the turkey fall away. Beautiful turkey – placed beautifully on the platter!

Happy Turkey Day To All!

If you have a product you want me to try, please email me at jenzatkowski@gmail.com.


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