By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On this day before Thanksgiving, a local chef has some tips that you may want to consider before you lumber over to the oven and shove the bird in whole. He suggests cooking the turkey in parts.
Chef/Owner Mitch Prensky of “Supper” on South Street appreciates the photo op of presenting a whole bird on the table, but says it’s difficult to get the dark meat, the legs and thighs, cooked through before the white meat, the breast, overcooks.
“That Norman Rockwell ‘I’m carving at tableside thing’ – we don’t do that in restaurants,” Prensky says, “and I don’t do that at home.”
Chef Prensky breaks down the bird before cooking, rubs rendered chicken fat over all of the parts, then cooks the dark meat low and slow at 275 degrees.
“And then we’ll cook it at a very low temperature for three or four hours,” he says.
He roasts the breasts separately, after rubbing a mix of chicken fat, butter and herbs all over, including under the skin, starting at 325-degrees.
“In the last half hour, I raise the temperature of the oven to 425,” Prensky says, “and that will crisp the skin.”
Hear the entire interview with Chef Mitch Prensky in the CBS Philly podcast:
Prensky likes to remove the turkey at an internal temperature of 155 degrees, figuring while resting it out of the oven for at least 20-minutes, it will reach 165 degrees.
“I think the worst crime perpetrated at Thanksgiving is rushing the turkey from the oven to the table,” he says, “with people thinking ‘oh, it’s hot, I want it on the table hot.'”