This Thanksgiving, I can expect my aunt to fret over a massive, unthawing bird before stuffing it, seasoning it, baking it, and carving it for members of my extended family. I will eat it. It will be dry.
Before someone immediately jumps to the comment section to screech “BRINE! BRINE IT!” I want to be frank about the fact that brining can only go so fucking far, you zealots. At some point, we—the collective we, as a society and nation—need to accept that no amount of brining or basting or seasoning or USDA organic certifying can make up for the fact that turkey is a finicky meat that is hard to prepare without some part of it becoming an overcooked, dry disappointment masked in gravy.
A whole turkey is just too damn big. Nothing that big is ever going to cook evenly; the breast meat will always cook before the (far tastier) legs are cooked through. So why do we insist upon all the pre-planning of a three day brine (not to mention acquiring a bucket or large tub to brine the damn thing in) or desperately hoping that turkey hack you found online will save your aunt’s turkey at the last minute? (Let’s keep it a buck: It won’t.)
If you’re in charge of the turkey this year, I have a suggestion: Ditch that shit and cook a chicken or two instead.
Chicken is great. People love chicken. A chicken is more manageable, won’t take as long to bake, and doesn’t necessarily require a goddamn brine to be edible. And if you’re someone who likes to make use of Thanksgiving leftovers, it’s worth mentioning that chicken provides you with a wider range of dishes to prepare with its remains than a turkey will. Plus if you (or whoever is cooking this year) aren’t a great cook, no worries: Overcooked chicken sucks, but overcooked turkey sucks more.
Just do a chicken, okay?