Turkey Tips with Chef Harold Balink | Recipe of the Month

Chef Harold Balink

Chef Harold Balink

The turkey is typically the star guest for Thanksgiving and also the cause for much anxiety. So how do you get it right this time? We’ve turned to award-winning Southwest Florida Chef Harold Balink for turkey tips guaranteed to make YOU the star in the kitchen this year.

Besides making sure the bird is completely thawed and its cavity cleaned out, his best bird tip is to brine it overnight in a mixture of one part sugar, two parts salt, and 10 parts water; rinse well before cooking. Chef Balink explains, “It doesn’t matter how you cook it, brining ads so much more moisture.”



Chef Balink says go low and slow to keep the bird moist, “Set the oven on about 200ºF or 225ºF, rub the turkey with butter, and put it in.”

Get the temperature in the thickest part of the breast up to 155-158 degrees, then take it out and turn up the heat to 450ºF. As the bird sits “carryover cooking” takes place. Chef Balink says, “It should get up to about 165ºF after it comes out of the oven. Then rub it with some more butter and pop it back in for 10-15 minutes to get that beautiful golden brown.”


A much faster method, first check that your pot is big enough to easily fit the bird. Get the oil temperature up to 400 degrees and completely thaw and dry the turkey, including its cavity, before submerging (never put a frozen turkey in hot oil…very dangerous!). Chef Balink says, “You don’t need to inject it (the turkey) with anything if you brine it. It’s brown, moist and beautiful.”


Chef Balink says, “Deboning is a pain, but you have this beautiful flat canvass of turkey that you can layer with anything from sausage to stuffing, and roll it up….It doesn’t need to be perfect, people will be wowed that it is all in one.” The cooking method is once again slow and low.

Chef Balink says serve your bird with a glass of festive Beaujolais Nouveau and you are good to go. He continues, “Man it’s tough to beat a homemade Thanksgiving meal when you do it right.”


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