GIF Tutorial: How to Truss a Turkey

This year, tie up your bird to get a more evenly cooked turkey—and look like a pro in the process.

  • Click through the gallery to see how to truss a bird like a pro...
  • Step1. Cut a long piece of butcher's twine of equal lengths on both sides (it's better to overestimate so that you don't run out). Start by looping the string under the bird, then up between the wings and the body.
  • Here's another view of that—under the bird, then around the wings and over the legs.
  • Strong 2. After pulling the string up over the legs, tie your first sailor's knot.
  • How do you tie the knot? Simply wrap one end of the string around the other—about four times—then pull tight.
  • Step 3. Loop the two ends of the string under the legs, then pull them together and tie another sailor's knot. Make sure the legs are crossed.
  • Strong 4. Bring the string back between the legs and the breast, flip the bird over, and pull the string over the wings this time.
  • Step 5. Tie a sailor's knot to secure the wings in place, pulled in close to the body.
  • Step 6. Flip the bird back over and bring the string up around the back of the legs one last time.
  • Step 7. Tie one last sailor's knot over the legs, then tie a regular knot and cut the string.
  • Bundle o' turkey, ready for action.

Photos and GIFs by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay)

Welcome back to the First We Feast GIF Tutorial series, where we ask restaurant cooks and pro bartenders to show us how step up our technique when cooking and making drinks at home.

If you’re in charge of the turkey this year, pat yourself on the back—your family clearly thinks you are responsible enough to be entrusted with the most important Thanksgiving task (besides making sure grandpa doesn’t say racist things to any newcomers at the table).

The best way to set the tone for your turkey-roasting ops and ensure that the Monday morning quarterbacks of the kitchen stay off your case is to truss your bird—or, in layman’s terms, to tie it up using butcher’s twine. Trussing a turkey is quick and easy, but it’s a pro-level move that shows you’re taking your job seriously.

The point of trussing is simple: The turkey will cook more evenly if it’s formed into one compact unit and the extremities—wings, legs—aren’t hanging on their own to cook at their own rate.

For a quick tutorial on how it’s done, we swung by Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in Chelsea Market to get a demo from veteran trusser Ted Rosen. Not only does the new-school butcher shop sell some of the finest local turkeys in the city, but it also knows how to roast ’em just right.

Some people don’t believe in trussing, but Rosen thinks it’s worth the (minimal) extra effort. “You can simply tuck the wings beneath the body, but they sometimes break or pop out,” he says. “Trussing keeps everything compact, and it’s nice because the you have the string outlining the major muscles. Everything is nice and tight.”

Click through the gallery above for a step-by-step tutorial on trussing your Thanksgiving turkey this year.


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