Let’s get serious, people, the feast day is nigh upon us. Robin and I just picked up our organic, fresh bird from Lucky’s. He’s going to be barded this year, i.e., swaddled in bacon. For cooks the question is to brine, bard, or baste. Here’s the difference:
Brine: Means you soak the bird in salted, seasoned water for a number of hours. Butterballs are already shot full of seasoned water, so there’s no need to do this.
Bard: That’s when you wrap bacon strips over the entire turkey. Remove the “bacon bandaging” 15 minutes before the end of roasting to allow more time to brown the skin.
Baste: The way your grandmother used to do it. Spoon liquid from the roasting pan over the meat periodically as the turkey roasts.
I’ve done turkey all those ways, plus smoking, cooking it in a plastic bag and whatever method was in vogue at the time. One year I did a turducken—you know, the poultry combo, where you cook several birds inside each other. Not memorable, though I read recently that they’re trying the same thing with dessert, putting pie inside a cake. I haven’t tried that, but I think it must taste something like having a taste of several desserts on a crowded plate.
And I’ve cooked wild turkey bagged on our farm. They’re flat-chested and their legs stick out like exclamation points, but if cooked correctly (and I’ve done it both ways), the’re are much closer to what our forefather ate. One year my grandson, Austin, spatchcocked the turkey and smoked it. Excellent! And explaining the term spatchcock was always fun.
To tell you the truth, I’ve never noticed a whole lot of difference in the way the turkey comes out. But, then, I’m a side dish person more attuned to the subtleties of the dressing, mashed potatoes and vegetables. But the barded version got rave reviews last year and sometimes it’s not wise to tamper with success.