Top tips from Executive Chef Christopher Chafe at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Let’s face it – most of us don’t get overly excited at the thought of cooking a turkey. Not that it’s hard, exactly. It’s just that it’s a task we tend to tackle only a few times a year and, since practice makes perfect, well…
Christopher Chafe, Executive Chef at Jasper Park Lodge, is not like most of us. He enjoys roasting turkey. In fact, he often roasts more turkeys in a single day than most of us will tackle in a lifetime (up to 72 birds during the Christmas in November event alone). â€śI canâ€™t say Iâ€™ve ever had a bad experience roasting a turkey, not even my first one. My mum, however, would always cook it a bit too much. Donâ€™t tell her I said that, though!â€ť
â€śGo slow. Thatâ€™s the key to keeping it moist and juicy.â€ť
By slow, Chafe means cooking it at 3250F for roughly 20 minutes a pound.
â€śReally, thereâ€™s no rushing a turkey. If you put your temperature up any more, youâ€™ll dry it out.â€ť
Itâ€™s not just about temperature, though. The ingredients you start with matter as well. â€śHere at the Lodge we use as much local product as we can get. Thatâ€™s actually one of the reasons I came to Jasper.â€ť
Thereâ€™s also a bit of prep work involved. Chafe starts by brining the turkey overnight (submerging it in a salt and water mixture â€“ it helps keep the meat moist). Then, the next morning, he gives the bird a quick rinse and pats it dry.
â€śBefore it goes into the oven, I massage some olive oil into the skin and finish it off with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. It gives you that crispy skin youâ€™re looking for.â€ť
Make sure you have your temperature probe ready â€“ Chafe recommends you cook the turkey until its internal temperature (and that of the stuffing) reaches between 165 and 1700C.Â
â€śI like to do a sourdough stuffing and yes, I put it right in the bird. Once the turkey is done, though, I take the stuffing out and pop it back in the oven to give it an extra blast of heat.â€ť
Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes while you finish off your sides (Chafe, who comes from England, likes to roast potatoes and root veggies). There you have it: a perfectly cooked turkey, ready to carve.
If you want to sample one of Chef Chafeâ€™s slow-cooked creations, check out Christmas in November at Jasper Park Lodge. There are three sessions between November 7 and 16, and turkey will definitely be on the menu. Local turkey, of course.
Oh, and one last piece of turkey-cooking advice from Chafe: â€śRemember, itâ€™s all about having fun.â€ť
Follow this recipe from Executive Chef Chafe at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge for the perfect stuffing
CHEF CHAFE’sÂ CRANBERRY STUFFINGÂ
1 Whole onion, diced
4 Sticks of celery, diced
2 Carrots, diced
3 Cloves of garlic, chopped
1 Loaf of sourdough bread, diced
5 oz of dried cranberries
6 oz of butter
2 Tbsp of sage, chopped
2 Tbsp of parsley, chopped
1/2 Tbsp of thyme, chopped
1/2 Tbsp of rosemary, chopped
3 Cups of chicken stock, hot
SautĂ© onion, celery and carrots in butter. Add garlic to sweat. Add the bread and chopped herbs and stir continuously and tilt the skillet to prevent burning. Slowly add the chicken stock a little bit at a time as you may not need to use it all.
Once the stuffing is finished, lay it out onto a baking sheet with parchment. Place it in the oven at 350ÂşF for 30 to 40 minutes.
You can also add two diced apples and a few pieces of diced chicken sausage at the diced vegetable stage for variety.