turkey on farm at sunset

How to Fix a Dry Turkey

All Is Not Lost – (Probably)

We have lots of information on this site about how not to dry out your turkey, but sometimes bad things happen to good turkeys. If your turkey is dried out bookmark this site so that when you have time you can come back, look around and figure out what went wrong this time and to prevent it from happening next time. But for now - let's fix the turkey.

If your turkey is shoe leather dry you might have to look for a Chinese restaurant (usually open on major Holidays) for your celebration. But if it is just a bit dehydrated because it is overcooked it is actually possible to rehydrate a turkey.

Not too long ago we were admonished to cook turkey to 185 F. That temperature squeezes out the turkey juice like water wrung from a sponge. 

Government authorities now recommend 165 F. This is better, but the muscle fibers start squeezing the moisture from the meat, so the turkey starts to dry out at 155 F.

So how do you make something that is not so juicy juicy? You add juice!

Part of the reason that turkey is so often served with a good gravy or sauce is to return a little fat and moisture to the turkey, especially to the breast which has a tendency to dry out first.

Adding gravy or sauce does help to make turkey seem more moist. But when gravy alone is not enough, there are steps you can take to improve it.

Above we made an analogy between a turkey and a sponge. Too much heat tightens the muscle fibers in the turkey and presses out juice. The main reason to let a turkey rest is to allow the muscle fibers to relax so that there is room for juice.

So, step one is to rest the turkey for at least a half hour.

Next, increase the surface area that will be exposed to liquid. Think about techniques used by pit masters that work to rehydrate long cooked meat like shaved brisket or pulled pork.  

When carving, slice the breast into thin slices, if you have a Jaccard, use it on the breast slices. Another technique is to pull the breast meat apart as you would for pulled pork.

Make a thin - runny pan sauce from the turkey drippings, or use a good stock and soak the breast meat in this sauce just during the time that you carve the legs.

Keep the sauce and breast meat warm - not hot.


fix for dry turkey

What about leftovers used on sandwiches? Add oil and moisture. This is why mayonnaise works so well with turkey, as does the classic Morney sauce as used in the Hot Brown turkey sandwich.

Continue to Secret #3


Copyright © 2009 - 2019 The Perfect Turkey
Copyright © 2009 - 2019 The Perfect Turkey
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