For our Thanksgiving menus this year, we decided to call in some ringers—fantastic chefs from different corners of the country, with very different takes on American cuisine. We’re proud to share with you updated traditionalist recipes from Michael Anthony of New York City’s Gramercy Tavern, Latin-Jewish flavors from Michelle Bernstein of Miami’s Michy’s, and the tricked-out hackers’ Thanksgiving from Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz of San Francisco’s Mission Street Food. Plus, special guest appearances from Nathan Myhrvold and the Modernist Cuisine team, in case your holidays won’t be complete without some carbonated cranberries. Special thanks to Fishs Eddy for the awesome props and Saipua for the stunning flowers. Enjoy! – Ed.
The Mission Street Food gang (an ever-evolving series of San Francisco street cart, blog, book, hamburger stand, utterly beloved restaurants, and charity projects) has made its reputation on breaking the distinction between high-tech and low-brow cooking. For our Thanksgiving menu, chef Anthony Myint offers a mix of epic (a two-day gravy that will end all gravies) and ingeniously shortcutted recipes (like how to doctor a store-bought pumpkin pie). His turkey is also brilliantly streamlined, but loaded with fantastic ideas—like how to get around the crispy-skin conundrum entirely.
Roast Turkey, Mission Street Food-Style
Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz
1 fresh (or thawed) 10-12 pound turkey (the smaller size is important)
2/3 cup Kosher salt
Butter, as needed
Mixed chopped herbs like marjoram or thyme
Chicken skin (optional but recommended), as needed
- On Tuesday or Wednesday, carefully separate the turkey skin from the meat over the breast and legs. Slip in knobs of butter and herbs, paying special attention to generously cover the breast. Salt the whole outside of the bird and place on a rack in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight.
- On Thursday morning, bring your turkey out of the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature until it is just cool, not cold—an hour or two.
- About 3 hours before serving, preheat oven to 425°F. Roast turkey on a rack, in a pan, for 50 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the turkey in the closed, warm oven to finish cooking. About 30 minutes before serving, turn the oven back up to 400°F. Monitor closely: once the skin is kind of sizzling, probably 5-10 minutes, check the temperature of the thigh with a thermometer. (The conventional temperatures are overcooked, to my tastes; the thigh should reach just about 150°F for juicy meat.) Remove the turkey from the oven and store in a warm place until ready to carve.
Important Side Note Regarding Crispy Chicken Skin
If you’re celebrating with the kind of folks who fight over crispy skin, buy a pound of chicken skin in advance (or take the skin off a pack of chicken thighs, reserving them for another use). Two days before Thanksgiving, sprinkle the skin all over with salt (1 teaspoon per ¼ pound) and leave overnight in the fridge. The next day, brush off the extra salt and arrange the skins into a single, flat layer between two sheets of parchment paper. Sandwich it between two sheet trays and bake for 40 minutes at 300°F, or until golden brown. Cool thoroughly and store in an airtight container. Just before serving, warm in the oven for 2 minutes.
Makes a whole bunch. Leave a little room in your freezer, because you’re going to want all of it.
Turkey neck and giblets from your bird
3 additional turkey necks
2 whole chickens (or 8 leg quarters)
Aromatics like carrot, onion, leek, etc., to taste (optional)
Kombu and/or dried shitake mushroom, to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon flour, or as needed
- A couple of days in advance, make stock using the turkey neck, extra necks and whole chickens. Start by preheating the oven to 425°F. Roughly remove all of the skin and cut off the breast meat. It’s okay to do a quick and shoddy job of both—you're just making gravy.
- Salt the breasts liberally and refrigerate for later. Separate the chickens into their parts and cut the necks into 3-inch segments. Place everything in a large roasting pan along with the giblets and skin off to one side.
- Roast for 45 minutes or until a little past golden brown. Deglaze the roasting pan, fastidiously scraping all browned bits with a wooden spatula and add the precious liquid to a stock pot along with all the bones, meat and vegetables (if you’re using them) and enough water to cover. Bundle the skins in a cheesecloth and add to the pot. (Feel free to add dried shitake or kombu to the pot if you want extra umami.)
- Heat your stock on high until it reaches a simmer, then turn down to low and allow to just barely simmer for about 3 hours.
- Strain the stock carefully into a pot with a heavy bottom and a tight fitting lid—this is your gravy pot. Discard the remaining solids, but reserve your bundle of skin, placing in back in the gravy pot as well. Refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, skim off the fat that has congealed on top of your stock and reserve it to make a roux a bit later on. Reduce the remaining stock to the approximate desired quantity of gravy (probably down to 3 quarts, 2 for pouring and 1 for stuffing). Once the stock has come to a boil, add your chicken breasts, turn off heat and allow breasts to poach for 10 minutes. Remove the breasts and wrap them tightly in saran wrap. Resume reduction of stock—the chicken can be used later or as a backup in case you run out of turkey.
- Presumably, your turkey is in the gentle roasting process by now. Interrupt your turkey roasting just long enough to obtain the drippings, ideally in something sturdy like a tempered glass measuring cup. Put the drippings in the freezer to separate; you want to keep the fat and trash the water. Fastidiously deglaze the roasting pan, adding the contents to your gravy pot.
- Remove the skin bundle and blend with as much stock as needed to get the blender going, probably about a cup. Reserve the resulting skin puree.
- In a nonstick pan, warm about 2 ounces of turkey fat (or the skimmed chicken fat) with turkey drippings and once the fat is hot, add 1 tablespoon of flour per ounce of fat. Stir over low heat until golden brown then remove from heat.
- Adjust the gravy to your desired consistency using a combination of turkey fat roux and skin puree. The roux will thicken but may take a moment to materialize. The skin will add unctuousness.
- If desired, you can puree the giblets into the gravy, or reserve to add to your stuffing. Adjust gravy to desired flavor with salt, pepper and any other accent, like a splash of vermouth.