Turkey, Deconstructed

The most recent edition of Cook’s Illustrated offers a new roasted turkey recipe (not available online) that skips the critical step of its previous version: the cumbersome, day-long brining process that guarantees a tender, evenly cooked bird in return for the cook’s labor.

The innovation? Breaking up the bird. Writes the unromantic author of the piece, J. Kenji Alt:

Even the most sentimental cook would surely give up their Norman Rockwell dream of a whole golden brown bird emerging from the oven in exchange for the juiciest turkey with the simplest preparation.

Alt advocates buying a turkey breast and two leg quarters, rather than breaking down a whole turkey. “Without the insulating effect of the turkey’s backbone and breast meat,” Alt writes, “the thighs and drumsticks serendipitously reached 175 degrees just as the breast finished cooking!”

For those not attached to the heartwarming and epic sight of a whole golden-brown bird, this recipe may be a real step forward on the Thanksgiving front. For the rest of us: Prepare to bust out the brining solution and wait.