How a Food Critic Roasts a Turkey

Yesterday in Todd Kliman’s chat, a reader asked about using a roasting bag to cook a turkey. Not in Todd’s kitchen. Here’s what he had to say about handling the (heritage) bird on Thanksgiving day:


If you’re looking to produce a really moist turkey, the best thing you can do is to brine it.

Brining is simple, and if you don’t overdo it (I’d only brine for up to six hours, personally), it really does pay off. Not too much salt, either, and you’ll want to add some other flavorings to your salt-and-sugar/water mixture—like, for instance, bay leaves, black peppercorns, maybe a cinnamon stick or star anise, a few curls of orange zest. . . . Make sure you have a big-enough container to do the soaking in—that’s the other key thing.

I’ll be roasting, once again, a Red Bourbon heritage turkey, which my dealer (very shady, very mysterious) will have ready for drop off tomorrow late morning.

Insanely expensive, but what the hell— it’s a holiday, and everybody raves about the taste of the meat. I also love the way they look on the table—not a big, round hulking thing but a languorously stretched-out bird, as if it had been roasting while lying on a chaise longue.

Here’s what I do with it, and I highly recommend it for any turkey. Very simple, too.

A package of softened Kerrygold butter and a fistful each of chopped sage and tarragon. This mixture goes under the skin, so you have to cut discreet holes into the exterior and work your fingers underneath and rub the butter into the meat.

For the outside, it’s a package of Kerrygold, softened, and a bottle of B-grade maple syrup (the real stuff). Mix it up good and spread it over the entirety of the bird’s surface.

Then, salt and pepper the whole thing very, very generously and you’re ready to roast.

Get Our “Brunches This Weekend” Newsletter

The best breakfasts and brunches to try every weekend, plus our most popular food stories of the week.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.