Turkey Tip

For whatever reason, this is the only time of year when fresh turkeys are readily available and affordable in this country. I therefore urge you to pick up a bonus turkey. It can be the same as the thanksgiving bird, but doesn’t have to be. For instance, this year I splurged on a fancy D’Artagnan free range organic turkey to roast whole. But for 1/3 the price I got a natural fresh Nature’s Promise bird.

Turkey is really delicious and makes a great substitute for most pork or veal recipes. Slice the breast into cutlets and make schnitzel. Use the thighs whole in any braised recipe. Or make my turkey carnitas. Or use any of it in any chicken recipe. The wings and legs are fantastic smoked. Or the meat can be ground and used to make burgers, chili, or just about anything that needs chop meat. It really is quite versatile. And if you get it on sale, it’s only $1 or so per pound, a phenomenal bargain. It will keep for months in the freezer. 

 I cut it up into pieces as I prepared the main bird for brining. The wing tips, neck, giblets went into the saucepan with the ones from the feast bird. The two livers I ate as a snack (recipe to follow). The extra fat and skin is being rendered into schmaltz. 

To cut the bird, use a sharp boning knife. Separate the thighs from the breast and slice through the skin. Do each side. Then flip bird to breast side down, bend in half, and use a heavy knife to cut across the backbone, severing the turkey into two halves. Set aside the darkmeat half for now. Remove the wing tips, save for soup. Carefully remove the wings by probing with the knife point and cutting through the joint. 

Using the boning knife, remove the breast from the carcass, starting with backside up. Use the tip to gently release the meat from the bone as you slide along, in layers. Watch a YouTube video if you’ve never done it, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Just don’t expect it to be perfect, there may be a bit of excess meat left on the bone, or a few extra cut marks. No one will care. Work up to the top, then flip over and do the other side. Remove the carcass and set aside, then cut the two sides of the breast into separate pieces, and trim off any excess skin and fat or connective tissue. 

Return to the bottom half. Cut off the two legs, again probing with the knife to find the joint. The thigh can either be deboned as with the breast, or left whole. A big heavy meat cleaver will be needed to cut into halves. 

Label a few gallon size freezer bags. Don’t forget the date. I like to separate the two breasts, the wings, legs, and thighs. And the carcass/bones/scraps if not using right away. If grinding right away, measure out one pound portions and put in quart sized freezer bags. Make sure to press all the air out to make a tight seal before freezing. And blot off any excess moisture before putting in bag. 


Thanksgiving Update

A couple of years ago I posted my traditional Thanksgiving menu with full recipes in an easy-to-print format.


I had intended to post last year’s rendition, but never got around to it. The main difference was the turkey, which was done following a combination of Alton Brown and Thomas Keller’s methods. It was the best I’d ever done. And to top it off, I accompanied the traditional gravy with Rick Bayliss’s full Mexican molĂ© sauce. The combination was spectacular.

The beauty of this method is that pretty much any turkey can be used. I get the cheap fresh “all natural” version, this year on sale for $1.99/lb. No need to spend $6.99 for the fancy one from the butcher, it just takes a bit of advanced planning. Can even work with a frozen bird, it will defrost as it brines.

Basically, start with brining the bird a la Alton. Use 1 Cup of Kosher salt per gallon of water. Season with brown sugar, allspice, peppercorns, bay leaves, sage, etc. Dissolve the sugar and salt in some hot water with the spices, stir until all mixed together, then dilute with cold water/ice. I use a large stock pot, which holds the turkey. Refrigerate overnight, or leave outside if its cold out and there is no room in the fridge.
The next day, remove from brine, and dry out a la Keller. Then roast as normal. Last year I had about a 12 lb bird, it fit on the upright “chicken on a throne” beercan holder, which is highly recommended and far better than lying down as it browns evenly all over. Don’t worry about basting, its a waste of time and slows down the cooking every time you open the oven. Use Convection Roast on the oven if it has the option. Otherwise rotate a couple of times as it cooks. Cook unstuffed, Alton Brown likes to add aromatics to the cavity, I prefer the “beer can”.

Alton “traditional”:   http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/traditional-roast-turkey-recipe.html

Alton “Good Eats” version: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe.html

Thomas Keller: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/how-thomas-keller-makes-his-juicy-crispy-thanksgiving-turkey-article




These Korean scallion pancakes are delicious and exotic, yet surprisingly easy and inexpensive to make at home. Makes a great appetizer cut into quarters, or a quick meal. 


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/3-1/2 cup cod, shrimp, or squid
  • 1/3-1/2 cup kimchi 
  • 4 scallions, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into 1″ lengths 
  • 1 tsp light miso
  • 1 TB oil

Dipping sauce 

  • 2 TB rice vinegar 
  • 2 TB soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp gochujan chili paste
  • 1 tsp sugar 


  1. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Let the flavors mingle while preparing the pancake. Adjust balance of sweet/sour/salty/spicy to taste. Garnish with thin slivers of scallion and red chili if desired, with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. 
  2. Mix the flour and water with miso in a bowl.
  3. Heat oil in heavy skillet. Non-stick helps, but cast iron works well too. 
  4. If not precooked, add the seafood and half cook. 
  5. Add the scallions and kimchi, spread out evenly across bottom of pan. 
  6. Pour the batter over the filling, spreading to make an even layer and fill in the gaps. There should be just enough to keep it together. 
  7. Cook over medium heat until lightly brown, then flip and do other side. If pancake is thick, cover pan for a couple of minutes to make sure it cooks through. 
  8. Slide onto plate, cut into wedges, and serve with dipping sauce.