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Dec 23, 2011

Chef of the year prepares turkey for X-Mas

On Saturday night, homes across the country will be filled with the aroma of hams and turkeys baking in the ovens. And while many have perfected their recipes, 2004 Chef of the year, Patrick Rodriguez, has some tips and tricks to share so that the Christmas meal is appealing to the eyes and to the taste buds. Chef Rodriguez first explains how to perfectly cook a beautifully browned, flavorful turkey.

Chef Patrick Rodriguez, Chef of the Year 2004

“This is a twelve pound turkey that has been washed and cleaned. So what I’ll doing is mixing up a few seasonings here; some sage, a little bit of consome, some complete seasoning; you know stuff that you would use at home. It’s traditional seasoning, nothing fancy. A little salt, a little pepper, and just basically just whisk this around a little. So what I’ll do is just put a little of this on top. We don’t want to over season, like I said. Rub a little bit over this turkey; get in between so we get the seasoning all inside. Let’s turn this around.”

Carla Ayres Musa

“And how important is it that you distribute evenly? Because this is a very big turkey.”

Chef Patrick Rodriguez

“Yeah, well you just want o make sure—that’s why if you notice I’m rubbing, make sure I get it all in evenly so it’s, you know you don’t want one area to be a bit saltier than the other, so I just kinda move it around. Notice I put the wing behind so that when it’s baking, it doesn’t affect the cooking of the breast. This will help when you’re baking the turkey.”

Carla Ayres Musa

“What does that do?”

Chef Patrick Rodriguez

“Well, it just kinda keeps everything together when it’s baking. You know most of the time you see a turkey that is all open; so this keeps it together so when it’s finished you have a nice product. What I would also recommend when baking the turkey, I always start my turkey—I always put aluminum foil over my turkey and like half way through the cooking, then I would take it off and then I would finish it just to get brown.”

Marleni Cuellar

“So is this essentially all you would do to prep your turkey before you put it in the oven?”

Chef Patrick Rodriguez

“That’s basically all I would do. And some people would prefer to put a little Lea & Perrins on it. I like the flavor of Lea & Perrins so I use it. I personally like to use it and this also helps with the browning of the turkey, give that nice golden brown on top. Now what I want to mention too, is if you plan to present your turkey on the dinner table, then probably you would want to go a little bit more brown just to make it more eye appealing. If you’re just planning to carve your turkey immediately, I would suggest not browning your turkey to the point where it’s starting to get dry. The most important part of a turkey is the skin, it seals in the moisture  because I notice a lot of our Belizean cooks like to remove the skin and it’s not a good practice because you’re not protecting all that juice inside, sealing all that juice inside. So if you notice I took a piece of skin from the neck and covered the breast of the turkey to keep it nice and moist.”

In an additional tip, Chef Rodriguez says he does not recommend stuffing your turkey because of salmonella risks. Instead, he advises that you use the turkey gravy when cooking the stuffing to get that extra flavor.

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