Cooking a Turkey
I wanted to leave you guys with something seasonal in advance of tomorrow's poultry-based celebration.
Although I'm not much of a hand at generating tasty birdflesh, I heard a great tip a while back, gleaned from Mr. Harold McGee, author of the all-time-awesome geek food book, On Food & Cooking.
Here's one very clever way to cook a succulent turkey without burning the crap out of the tender breast meat:
The problem is this: The breast and the legs cook at different rates. The breast is composed of white meat, and the legs contain dark meat, which has more muscle and connective tissue than the white meat. The goal is to cook the turkey just long enough to break apart this tissue, so that the turkey becomes succulent. That is, the tissue turns to gelatin, which gives a velvety feeling in the mouth...
[Before] cooking, cover the breast with an ice pack. As the rest of the turkey comes up to room temperature, the breast will be about twenty degrees cooler. This will solve our holiday heat transfer problem: it'll slow down the cooking rate of the white meat of the breast, making it cook about as fast as the dark meat in the legs.
You can hear McGee geek out on the science of food and cooking via his many entertaining appearances on NPR shows (that's where I learned about his book):