Hundreds (maybe thousands) of people use my turkey page each year. What they may not know is that I rarely make my turkey the way the page directs!
That's because I am usually experimenting. There aren’t many ways to cook a turkey that I have not tried — spatchcocking, frying, grilling, whole or in pieces, high-heat, low heat, wet and dry brine, etc. Next year's turkey page might reflect what I try each year.
This year I am doing the turkey in pieces, following a method Julia Child used and Cook's Illustrated revived.
As you probably know, the greatest challenge is getting the breast and legs done at the same time. The method on the turkey page has you start the bird breast down to give the legs a head start. Julia instead separates the legs before cooking and handles them differently.
She does something cool that I wanted to try: She debones the thigh and ties it up to make the leg meat as much of a roast as the breasts are.
So that’s what I am doing.
I made one change: Cook's Illustrated wet brines the breast but I love dry brining so much that I am using it on all the pieces. I am also using baking powder in the salt, as it raises the pH and helps crips the skin. (I have used baking powder and baking soda at the end of the dry brine in prior years and it made no difference, so I am trying it at the start of the dry brine, as recommended by Kenji or Serious Eats. See? I told you I experiment!)
I started with a 15-pound, frozen, unbrined Butterball and followed the directions at Cook's Illustrated to separate the legs. I removed the back. This leaves the breast with wings. Here it is, salted and baking powdered:
I removed the thigh bones:
and added skewers and twine:
And we’re ready to go. All the spare parts are in the stockpot and the legs and breast are in a plastic bag to dry brine for four days.