Turkey is my least favourite bird (to eat). I simply cannot relinquish this bland, stupid bird. My ambivalence towards the meat itself drives me to cook a bird that is delicious, but my irreverence spurs me to mess with it a bit. Sprinkling some MSG on the skin lets me subvert normie turkey expectations while also making it taste better.
I know this is not a new take, but turkey meat does not taste that great. It is somehow strongly bland, which is an oxymoron, yet I can think of no other way to describe it. You may feel compelled to argue with me, but if turkey is so great, why do most people devote an entire days to brining? Turkey is a meat that does not taste meaty enough, but MSG is literally meat flavour in crystalised form. (These are facts, and I’ve heard they don’t care about your feelings.)
You can add a little (about a quarter teaspoon per pound) to your dry brine, like I did in my turkey nugs video, but it will change the flavour profile in a way that staunch turkey traditionalists may find alarming.
That’s okay though, because I think MSG does its best work on the turkey’s skin. The skin of your turkey should essentially be a meat cracker, and crackers are best when they are almost too savoury. An intensely flavored, crazy crisp skin serves as the perfect punctuation to the roasted bird, and the pan drippings, my god—they are the platonic ideal of roasted meat juice and lovely browned bits, and they make a very good gravy.
Best of all, adding MSG to your turkey is not hard. You just sprinkle it on right before it goes in the oven. Half a teaspoon per pound of bird is what you want, and you want to dust it over the entire thing. (Do not neglect the bottom.) No matter your brine, no matter your cooking method, a little MSG on the skin of your turkey is going to give it the little savoury boost it needs to taste like the meaty, flavourful meat centrepiece you and your family deserve.
As mentioned in the headline, you might as well do the same thing when you roast a whole chicken – you can never have too much flavour, after all. (And for the thousandth time for the naysayers out there – ingesting MSG is absolutely fine.)
If you’re still afraid of the seasoning MSG giving you headaches, you should know you’ve bought into a decades-old myth. Don’t despair! Now that you know the truth, you can go celebrate with a meal at your favourite MSG-using restaurant, or treat yourself to a cute panda-shaped bottle of the stuff.Read more