Why you should care

Because too often Thanksgiving turkey is astonishingly mediocre. Get ready to be astonished. 

There’s a big problem with most Thanksgiving turkey: To make leg meat safe to eat, you have to overcook the breast. Only a dollop of gravy and a heavy coat of cranberry sauce can make up for the dry bird that comes out of the oven, which you then guiltily use in sandwiches for the next month. Luckily, we’ve tasked a handful of OZY’s Rising Star chefs with shaking up the classic dish. From modernist to badass, the results will make you drool, examine your morals and hopefully run a last-minute audible on your turkey-day plans. Here’s to 46 million turkeys not tasting like a political ad; here’s to turkey that isn’t “meh.”

Badass, Wrapped in Bacon

Kyle Marcoux has made a name for himself as…The Vulgar Chef. Nothing in the profanity-filled pages of his eponymous blog was intended for the faint of heart. Marcoux is among a select group of “eat like shit foodies” who are taking the ultrasanitized, twee world of Rachael Ray, coating it with red velvet cake mix and deep-frying it. If eating the artery-clogging creations from a “dude getting drunk and cooking in his parents’ basement” doesn’t make you take a long, hard look in the mirror, nothing will. But dammit, modern-day Thanksgiving isn’t about pilgrims and Indians, but about testing your body’s ability to digest enough buttery food for a week. So if there’s one day of the year to tempt fate with one of Marcoux’s recipes, it would be this fourth Thursday of November and this exclusive gem:

What you need:

  • 1 20-lb. turkey
  • 2 lb. bacon
  • 4-5 cups prepared jalapeño mac ’n’ cheese
  • Shredded cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs

What to do:

  1. Before cooking, pierce the flesh in multiple spots, plugging the holes with the shredded cheese and butter. Scrap the “classic shitty stuffing” and replace it with jalapeño mac ’n’ cheese. Go ahead, stuff it good.
  2. Now, wrap the bird in bacon. Two layers if you dare.
  3. Mix the bread crumbs and eggs, then cover the stuffing hole so the mac ’n’ cheese doesn’t run out. That’d be tragic.
  4. Deep-fry it. Finish by “slicing up that badass bird and making a huge fucking sandwich. This recipe is too extreme to be eaten off a shitty plate.”
  5. As for those leftovers, Marcoux’s got your back, because “leftover turkey soup? Fuck that. Thanksgiving sandwich? Amateur fucking hour.” Instead, try Thanksgiving Sushi, “the only sushi Jiro should be dreaming about,” or Leftover Stuffing Shrimp Spinach Balls. Just don’t be surprised when your scale takes revenge come January.

Brine in a Garbage Can

It’s not surprising that Eli Kirshtein cooks Thanksgiving dinner for 30 friends and family. The former Top Chef phenom is leading a revival of French cuisine with a recently opened restaurant called the Luminary, located in his hometown of Atlanta. But dishes that you wouldn’t expect at the annual get-together? Chocolate mud pie with gummy worms, Singaporean curry noodles or spaetzle. Ever since a teenage Kirshtein began educating his global culinary friends in the ways of Thanksgiving, the feast has become ground zero for local foodies without a ticket home. The one rule: Bring something—anything. In between running one of the hottest French restaurants in America and preparing for Thursday, Kirshtein took a few minutes to give you, dear readers, turkey with a modern twist. Definitely get a new trash can.

What you need:

  • 1 large turkey
  • 3 gallons water
  • 2 lb. salt
  • 1 lb. sugar
  • 4 oz. pickling spice
  • Duck fat and/or canola oil

What to do:

  1. Combine the water, salt and sugar until completely dissolved.
  2. Get a brand-new garbage can from the store; place a new, clean garbage bag in it. Pour the brine into the garbage bag.
  3. Place the turkey in the brine and let rest for at least 12 hours. You can tie the bag up and place in a refrigerator; if there is no space, tie the bag up and place bags of ice over it in the garbage can to help keep cold.
  4. Remove the turkey from the brine. Butcher the legs off of the bird; reserve the breast for a roast turkey breast application.
  5. Place the legs in a large, heavy pot. Pour enough duck fat or canola oil (can be mixed also) to cover the legs. Take the pickling spice and put it in a piece of cheesecloth and tie it with a string.
  6. Put the spice packet into the oil. (If you have a preferred spice blend, feel free to use it.) Put a lid or foil over the pot and place in the oven.
  7. Cook at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 hours. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least an hour. Shred the meat and serve or serve a whole leg — it will be very tender.

Fried Turkey ‘Chicharrones’

Miami’s hottest chef, Giorgio Rapicavoli, comes from a family about as multiculti as the city itself. The Argentine-Italian co-owner of renowned “stoner food” restaurant Eating House and Taperia Raca, Rapicavoli, 28, has his eye on opening another eatery. But first, Thanksgiving dinner. The family normally kicks off the feast with prosciutti and salami; graduates to a main course of pork, rice and beans; and culminates with tiramisu or bonet (a typical northern Italian dessert). Rapicavoli and Co. have done turkey only three times, two of which “sucked.” The other? “Ridiculously good and simple,” he says. Here it is:

What you need:

To fry:

  • 2 turkeys (8-10 lb. each)
  • 10 gallons peanut oil

For the marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 32 oz. Mojo Marinade
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Goya Adobo
  • 1/2 cup Sazon Completa
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

For the seasoning mix:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

What to do:

  1. To make the marinade: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process for about 5 minutes.
  2. Fill a syringe and inject each turkey in the breast and thigh areas, as well as in the back, wings and legs. You will have to fill the syringe several times. Next, combine the seasoning ingredients and rub the mixture evenly all over each turkey.
  3. Place the turkeys in large plastic bags and secure before icing them down or refrigerating them for 24 hours.
  4. To fry each turkey: Fill a large pot three quarters of the way full with the peanut oil, and heat the oil to between 350 and 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Place one turkey in the basket insert and carefully and slowly lower it into the hot oil. Turn the turkey every 10 minutes, using long-handled forks. A whole turkey will take 3 to 5 minutes per pound to cook. It is done when the internal temperature reaches 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read meat thermometer.
  6. Carefully lift the basket out of the hot oil. This can be done by inserting a broomstick through the handles and having two strong people lift the basket out of the pot. Using the long-handled forks, transfer the turkey to a large brown paper bag and let stand for about 15 minutes before removing to carve.
  7. Repeat the procedure for the second turkey. Carve the turkey and serve with what you please.

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