Home Lifestyle Thanksgiving master chef Jay Hajj offers amazing secrets for the tastiest, tenderest turkey ever

Thanksgiving master chef Jay Hajj offers amazing secrets for the tastiest, tenderest turkey ever

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Beirut-born Boston chef Jay Hadge is an American turkey master. I am grateful every day for his story of his own incredible immigration success.

The owner of the beloved Mike’s City Diner in Boston’s South End has been serving loyal locals, brokers of political power and hordes of tourists every day for 27 years with freshly baked turkey and Thanksgiving dinners. .

A frequent Food Network guest, Hajj spent years learning every conceivable trip to cooking the perfect turkey. He offers his three most important tips (below) for making your holiday bird crispier and tastier than ever this year.

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His tips include: If you have room in your oven, cook the turkey on its legs rather than on its back.

“Turkey tastes so good, makes a great meal, makes a great sandwich, and makes everything smell better while cooking,” Hajj told Fox News Digital.

Cured turkey with Mike’s City Diner chef and owner Jay Hadge. Mike’s City Diner serves turkey in a variety of ways every day.
(Page Street Publishing Co., 2017, photo: Ken Goodman)

“This is America’s signature dish, and it means a lot to all of us.”

Turkey has made Mike’s City Diner a landmark in American casual dining.

The Boston Herald proclaimed “Bird Man!” of Hajj Boston. Before the recent Thanksgiving, in bold first-page headlines. Boston Magazine declared Mike’s Famous Pilgrim’s sandwich a “restaurant legacy,” and Food His Network named Mike’s Famous Pilgrim one of his five Best Thanksgiving Meals in America. .

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Mike’s City Diner offers turkey hash, turkey soup, turkey club, turkey meatloaf, and complete turkey dinners.

The diner’s signature Mike’s Famous Pilgrim Sandwich is an entire Thanksgiving dinner in one handheld package.

Chef Jay Hadge's Mike's Famous Pilgrim is a signature sandwich at Mike's City Diner, a Boston landmark famous for its turkey dishes. The Food Network named Mike's Famous Pilgrim his one of America's best turkey dishes.

Chef Jay Hadge’s Mike’s Famous Pilgrim is a signature sandwich at Mike’s City Diner, a Boston landmark famous for its turkey dishes. The Food Network named Mike’s Famous Pilgrim his one of America’s best turkey dishes.
(Page Street Publishing Co., 2017, photo: Ken Goodman)

It includes turkey, cranberries and stuffing, and the diner’s “wonderful” gravy boasts Hajj.

His gravy is made by mixing stock and drips made from roasted turkey carcasses.

Hajj devotes an entire chapter to turkey in his 2017 cookbook, From Beirut to Boston: Comfort Food Inspired by the Tales of Rag-to-Restaurant.

“Turkey is America’s national dish, and it means a lot to all of us.” — Chef Jay Hadge

This chapter contains Hajj’s amazing secrets of cooking the perfect turkey.

among them:

Turkey Tip #1: Soak the bird in salt water for 12-24 hours to keep it as moist as possible.

A basic brine is just salt and water plus spices to your liking.

Hajj brine contains orange and lemon slices, along with rosemary, sage, cinnamon, and other aromatics.

Turkey Tip #2: Dry Your Turkey in the Refrigerator for a Crispy Skin

A refrigerator is a very dry environment. Exposing the skin to dry, cool air will cause it to become crispier and darker in color as it cooks.

Simply place the bird in the refrigerator the night before cooking.

Chefs (left to right) Jamie Bissonette, Ken Olinger, Anne Burrell, Lindsay Slavie and Jay Hadge attend the Wine Party from Spain at the 34th Annual Food and Wine Classic in Aspen - June 16, 2016, Day 1 in Aspen, Colorado.

Chefs (left to right) Jamie Bissonette, Ken Olinger, Anne Burrell, Lindsay Slavie and Jay Hadge attend the Wine Party from Spain at the 34th Annual Food and Wine Classic in Aspen – June 16, 2016, Day 1 in Aspen, Colorado.
(Photo by Nick Tininenko/Getty Images for Food & Wine)

Turkey Tip #3: Cook the turkey on its legs for extra tenderness

Yes, it is. Hajj cooks the bird upright and on its legs in a poultry roaster, rather than flat on its back like a mere human chef at Thanksgiving.

Of course, he recognizes that not everyone has a home oven big enough to cook a turkey upright.

But if you do, the Hajj swears that way.

Cook the bird on its feet for a super tender turkey.

“The fat melts and the meat becomes more tender,” Hajj writes in his book.

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He also cooks Thanksgiving dinner at his home each year for 50 guests from a large Lebanese-Irish-American family.

“We cook thousands of turkeys at Mike’s every year, and this technique is one of our best kept secrets,” he says.

A modern recreation of the first Thanksgiving held in the fall of 1621 at the Plymouth Patuxet Museum (formerly Plymouth Plantation) in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Only half of the Mayflower's passengers, about 50, survived the first winter at Plymouth, but according to Pilgrim Edward Winslow, who provided the only contemporary account of the first Thanksgiving, At least 90 of his Wampanoag attended the feast.

A modern recreation of the first Thanksgiving held in the fall of 1621 at the Plymouth Patuxet Museum (formerly Plymouth Plantation) in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Only half of the Mayflower’s passengers, about 50, survived the first winter in Plymouth, but according to Pilgrim’s Edward Winslow, the only record of the first Thanksgiving at the time, at least His 90 Wampanoag attended the feast.
(Courtesy of Cathy Tarantola/Plymouth Patuxet Museum)

Hajj said there are many things to be grateful for each year, including the opportunity to call himself an American.

Hajj was born in Beirut in 1970, a young boy when the Lebanese Civil War broke out in 1975 outside his parents’ home in the city centre. His family would often hide in the elevator shaft of his apartment building for safety during a rain of missiles.

They sought safety in the United States and arrived in Massachusetts, the state that gave birth to Thanksgiving in 1978.

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Hajj was a young chef in 1995 when he took over Mike’s City Diner, which was struggling on the then run-down Boston block.

He turned the diner into a landmark and is now celebrated nationally as America’s quintessential holiday dish. Also, investments in run-down neighborhoods have made Southend one of Boston’s trendiest zip codes.

President Bill Clinton eats a plate of eggs, ham and grits with Mayor Tom Menino at Mike's City Diner on January 18, 2000. Boston Herald staff photo by Matt Stone.

President Bill Clinton eats a plate of eggs, ham and grits with Mayor Tom Menino at Mike’s City Diner on January 18, 2000. Boston Herald staff photo by Matt Stone.
(Photo by Boston Herald/Media News Group/Boston Herald, Getty Images)

The late Boston Mayor Tom Menino rewarded the pilgrimage to investing in the neighborhood by appearing with a very special guest, President Bill Clinton.

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A visit by the then President of the United States helped put Mike’s City Diner and its signature turkey dish on the national food map.

“How cool is that?” Hajj writes in his From Beirut to Boston cookbook.

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“This Lebanese immigrant kid has made a name for himself in America by mastering the most iconic American meal, Thanksgiving dinner. It makes me so proud.”

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