“I prefer these heritage breeds for their flavor, and the tendency for this meat to stay moist longer is a big reason for it. I recommend cooking the bird until the breasts are finished, and then removing the legs and continue cooking them in the oven. It’s nearly impossible to get a perfectly cooked breast and legs at the same time because the legs take so much longer. The result, if you follow the advice, is a turkey that doesn’t need gravy.
I’d stay away from brining the birds as well. That’s a good technique for a bird that’s not on pasture. But these heritage breeds have distinct flavors reflecting the diversity of their diets. You’ll lose that if you brine them. Remember especially to take your bird out of the refrigerator a full 40 minutes before you roast it. The cooking time will vary dramatically.
I like to throw the carcass and scraps of meat into a big pot at the end of the night and make a rich turkey broth fort he next day. Just simmer the bones and meat for a few hours; add vegetables and herbs, and if you like a little wine, and don’t let it boil. You want a clear broth.”
1 Heritage Turkey
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 475
2. Let turkey come to room temp
3. Carefully separate skin from the breast meat and rub softened butter on to breast
4. Season liberally with salt and pepper
5. Set the turkey, breast side up, on a rack of a large roasting pan. Tie the legs together with kitchen string.
6. Roast for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cover turkey loosely with tin foil. Roast for about 3 1/2 hours, or until the thermometer inserted into the inner thigh registers 150 degrees.
7. Transfer turkey to cutting board. Let stand for at least 45 minutes to cool down.
8. Remove legs and thighs, careful to not take too much skin with you.
9. Place thighs, skin side, on a roasting pan and continue cooking, 40-45 minutes or until juices run clear.
10. Separately slice breast and thigh and plate while still warm.
Dan Barber is the co-owner and executive chef of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and the author of the forthcoming book, The Third Plate (May 2014, The Penguin Press). His opinions on food and agricultural policy have appeared in the New York Times, along with many other publications.
Appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, Dan continues the work that he began as a member of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture’s board of directors: to blur the line between the dining experience and the educational, bringing the principles of good farming directly to the table.
Barber has received multiple James Beard awards including Best Chef: New York City (2006) and the country’s Outstanding Chef (2009).In 2009 he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.