Peking Duck Turkey
Eating turkey is a must on Thanksgiving Day in the US, but I find the way turkey is usually cooked here too tough and lacking in taste. In the early ’80s, while living in Hong Kong, I forged my own way with a turkey, and it turned out okay. Quite nice, as a matter of fact, and I have been cooking it for friends ever since. I would like to share with you my Peking Duck Turkey, a faster version of cooking turkey the Peking Duck way, as my way of wishing you a delicious holiday.
- One turkey — any size. Defrost, wash, and pat dry. Leave the bird on a rack to air-dry for 24 hours, so the skin will be crispy when cooked. Make sure to leave the bird in a cool place to dry.
- [i]For the sauce:[/i]
- 2/3 cup dark soy sauce
- 1/3 cup of sherry (or French brandy, which I prefer)
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup (better than honey, which chars too easily)
- Ginger — enough to match the size of your palm, and more if you like — grind as finely as possible.
- Mix all above ingredients to make sauce
- Brush sauce on the bird, both inside and outside. Let dry, and brush on more sauce. Repeat until all the sauce is on the bird. Tedious process, I know. Here is a shortcut, but you need to have a hair dryer or heat gun: After the bird has been defrosted, washed, and patted dry, blow hot air on the bird until dry (no need to air-dry, but you will need about five minutes with the hair dryer on high).
- Brush on sauce, and blow-dry for about a minute. Repeat until all sauce is on the bird inside and out. The bird will slowly darken as each layer is added, and the sauce will become syrupy. Make sure to use a turkey baster to get the sauce that drips to the bottom of the pan.
- It usually takes me about half an hour to do this (rather than 24 hours to air-dry), and another two to three hours to apply the sauce the long way. I have to say that with the long way, the bird tastes better. If you are in a hurry, which I usually am, the shortcut is not bad at all.
- Turn the oven on to the highest setting – in some ovens, it is 450 degrees, in others 500. Cover the bird in aluminum foil (so the skin won’t burn), and put it in the oven. Check it after thirty minutes, and turn the bird over. Check it again after 15 minutes – this time poke the bird with a chopstick. If the chopstick goes through the bird easily, it is cooked. If not, give it another 10 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the bird you have chosen.
- Take the foil off the bird when your chopstick goes through the bird easily, and turn the oven off. The residual heat will brown the bird nicely without burning the skin. If your oven is extraordinarily hot, leave it outside the oven for a few minutes as the oven cools slightly, but then leave the bird in the oven until ready to serve. Total cooking time is about an hour, more or less, depending on the size of the bird, but less than a traditional turkey. If you like stuffing, you will have to cook it separately. Peking Duck Turkey cannot be stuffed!
- Enjoy, and happy holidays!