Well Being

This Year’s Hottest Thanksgiving How To Is Also The Healthiest: Steam A Turkey

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how to steam a turkey

In recent years, deep fried turkey has probably been the most popular Thanksgiving how to. But this year, a new trend is taking our tables by storm: steamed turkey. According to the New York Times, this is the preferred method of famed chef Jacques Pépin, but it's also a sure path to Thanksgiving turkey with “an incomparable balance of crispness and moistness.” We're just happy that it doesn't involve a 30-quart vat of oil.

How To Steam A Turkey

So how, exactly, do you steam a whole Thanksgiving turkey? Apparently you still need the 30-quart vat, but you're going to fill it with hot vapors, meant to drain fat off the bird. It's already sounding like the basis for a very healthy Thanksgiving, or at least, somewhat better than that traditional roasted turkey basted in its own grease for hours on end.

Steaming turkey isn't actually as weird or hard as it sounds: You only have to steam the turkey for about 30 minutes in a large pot fitted with a rack or coiled foil (to keep the meat from submerging in the boiling water). The fat drips into the water (instead of pooling around the turkey in a roasting pan), and then the turkey goes into the oven for about two hours (for a 16 to 18 pound bird) to get a brown, crispy skin and finish cooking all the way through.

Is Steaming Turkey Really Healthy?

In short: yes. Obviously, you can choose to ladle on fat, salt, sugar or all three if you're so inclined, but Pépin's recipe uses a glaze that consists of vinegar and, surprisingly, Tabasco sauce. But there's virtually no added sugar (processed, natural or otherwise), and the meat is moistened by the steam, not its own fat. His gravy, too, is a healthy foodie's dream: Nothing but wine, stock (made with the discarded turkey bits and the water used to steam the turkey) and a bit of cornstarch–it's even gluten-free!


Steamed Turkey Recipe

The recipe has been around since 2001; maybe everyone is finally sick of starting grease-fires in their backyard, or maybe America's astounding obesity rates have caused the New York Times to wonder if it isn't time to find a healthier idea for Thanksgiving turkey, but we're glad it's looking to be more of a trend this year. Go get his recipe and learn how to steam a turkey for yourself.

Photo: ReneS