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The "Perfect Turkey" Compound Butter

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A compound butter under the skin will produce a great bird - inside and out!

Photo © John Mitzewich
A compound butter is simple a culinary term that refers to any butter to which other flavorings are added. This technique is wonderful for chicken as well. It really keeps the breast moist, adds flavor, and gives the skin a great crisp, shiny finish. The "secret" ingredient is a small dash of Chinese 5-spice, which contains ginger, cinnamon, and star anise, which gives the turkey a very subtle and delicious aroma.

Enough for a 20-pound Turkey

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage, minced
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed very fine

Preparation:

  1. In a small bowl combine all ingredients and mash with a fork until completely mixed.

  2. Position the turkey so that the cavity is facing you and you are working forward towards the neck. Using a long, thin flexible rubber or silicon spatula, slowly slide the tool between the skin and the flesh of the breasts on both side of the breastbone.

  3. The skin is fairly tough and won't tear if you go slowly and carefully. You can pretty much separate the skin all the way from the cavity, where you started, to the front of the breast, and down toward the wing joint. Do this on both side of the breast, but leave the skin attached along the center of breastbone itself.

  4. Then simple divide the butter mixture in half and stuff it under the skin on both sides and massage it down toward the front of the bird. Spread as evenly as possible, but don't worry about getting it perfect, as it will melt and spread out as the turkey roasts.

  5. Roast the bird according to whatever recipe you are following and cover the breasts with a piece of foil if it's getting too brown towards the end of the cooking time.
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