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How to make turkey skin crispy when frying

How to make turkey skin crispy when frying

How to Achieve Perfectly Crispy Turkey Skin: A Mouthwatering Guide

If you’re aiming to make your Thanksgiving turkey unforgettable, you’ve come to the right place. One of the secrets to achieving the crispiest turkey skin that’s not only mouthwatering but also packed with flavor is by skillfully placing ultra-thin layers of cured lardo or seasoned slices of fresh pork fatback beneath the skin. In this guide, we’ll show you how to master this technique and elevate your turkey to the next level.

The Lardo-Crisped Roasted Turkey Method

To make your turkey skin truly exceptional, consider pushing delicate layers of cured lardo or seasoned fresh pork fatback beneath the skin. The advantages are twofold. First, it acts as a shield for the breast meat, preventing it from drying out in the oven’s heat. While some may suggest using cold butter for this purpose, it often melts away quickly, leaving your turkey less protected. In contrast, fatback softens without melting, effectively basting the turkey throughout the cooking process.

What’s even more crucial is that fatback doesn’t contain water like butter does. This means that the skin will become incredibly crispy, frying in both directions, resulting in a light and flaky texture that’s reminiscent of a chicharrón. In essence, the fatback turns your turkey skin into a giant, mouthwatering delight.

Mastering the Keys to Thanksgiving Success

When it comes to Thanksgiving triumph, two factors reign supreme: not overcooking your turkey and crafting a rich, flavorful gravy. The time spent carefully attending to these details is well worth the effort. While the rush of preparing the entire meal can be intense, standing at the stove and meticulously scraping up the caramelized meat and juices stuck to the roasting pan with a wooden spoon will yield a truly delectable gravy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Best Type of Turkey to Use?

For the most exquisite turkey flavor, opt for a heritage turkey. These breeds tend to have richer, more concentrated flavors, thanks to their slower growth on smaller frames. You can find heritage turkeys at many butcher shops and grocery stores, particularly around the holiday season. Alternatively, you can even order heritage turkeys online for added convenience.

What Wine Pairs Best with Lardo-Crisped Roast Turkey?

Pair your succulent Lardo-Crisped Roast Turkey with a dark-berried, supple Pinot Noir, such as the Alma de Cattleya Sonoma County. The rich flavor of the turkey and the wine make for an exceptional combination that will delight your guests.

Insights from the Food & Wine Test Kitchen

If you can’t find frozen uncured fatback or cured lardo, don’t worry. You can substitute bacon fat or even rendered lard or duck fat. Any dense animal fat will work its magic, delivering that coveted crispy texture to your turkey skin.

Ingredients

  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) fresh whole turkey
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 thyme sprigs, divided, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 8 cloves), plus 6 smashed garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 halved lemon (preferably Meyer lemon), divided, plus more lemon halves for garnish
  • 3 ounces lardo or fatback, thinly sliced using a mandoline
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 sweet onion, quartered
  • 2 fresh bay leaves, plus more for garnish

Directions for the Perfect Crispy Turkey Skin

  1. Place a wire rack inside a roasting pan. Position the turkey, breast side up, on the wire rack.
  2. Gently slide your fingers under the breast and thigh skin to loosen it from the meat.
  3. Sprinkle the turkey all over with 4 teaspoons of salt and 2 1/2 teaspoons of pepper. Make sure to rub these seasonings into the skin, around the joints, and inside the cavity.
  4. Add 4 teaspoons of chopped thyme, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, and 2 teaspoons of lemon zest to the turkey skin. Refrigerate it uncovered for at least 12 hours, or up to 36 hours. For periods exceeding 12 hours, cover the turkey with plastic wrap during the initial phase and uncover it during the last 12 hours for the skin to air-dry.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix lardo with 1/2 tablespoon of oil, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, 2 teaspoons of chopped thyme, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Ensure that the lardo is fully coated with these seasonings. Refrigerate this mixture until it’s ready to use, for up to 36 hours.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375°F, positioning the rack in the bottom third of the oven.
  7. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and blot it with paper towels to eliminate excess moisture.
  8. Gently slide the seasoned lardo slices underneath the turkey skin. Cover the breast meat with a single layer and place the remaining slices over the thigh meat.
  9. Bend the turkey wings back at the elbow and tuck them behind the back.
  10. Insert a lemon half into the turkey cavity and add the onion, thyme sprigs, smashed garlic cloves, and bay leaves.
  11. Insert the remaining lemon half.
  12. Crisscross the turkey legs at the ankles and secure them with kitchen twine.
  13. Rub the turkey skin all over with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil.
  14. Roast the turkey in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove it from the oven and brush it with pan juices.
  15. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F, then return the turkey to the oven. Roast, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the thigh registers 160°F, and the skin is crispy and dark golden brown. This should take approximately 2 hours.
  16. Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer it to a platter. Garnish with thyme sprigs, lemon halves, and bay leaves. Allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

This method, adapted with permission from Amy Thielen’s “Company: The Radically Casual Art of Cooking for Others,” will undoubtedly elevate your Thanksgiving turkey to a whole new level. Originally featured in Food & Wine magazine, November 2023.

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