Gordon Ramsay's Secret To Cooking The Perfect Turkey

Given Gordon Ramsay's thoroughly British roots, it may seem a little off for him to be dispensing cooking advice for a holiday as thoroughly American as Thanksgiving. The holiday meal is based on a three-day feast shared between pilgrims off the Mayflower and Wampanoag tribal members in 1621 (via National Geographic). As Ramsay's hometown newspaper The Guardian points out, the only reason those pilgrims ever met the Wampanoag tribe was their desire to get away from Ramsay's British Isles.

Then again, maybe we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss Ramsay's Thanksgiving expertise. His fellow countrymen and women are slowly but surely adopting the American holiday as their own, as The Guardian pointed out. Besides, if Ramsay can pull off that fantastic beef Wellington he's so famous for (via Gordon Ramsay Restaurants), then he should be able to master the relatively straightforward roasted turkey.

Ramsay taught his legions of YouTube fans (18.4 million subscribers and counting) how to make a quality holiday meal during a livestream on YouTube, on November 17. He was broadcasting from his home in Los Angeles, proving that the "Hell's Kitchen" host is more American than we've been giving him credit for. During that livestream, Ramsay gave away his secret to cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey.

Gordon Ramsay says a turkey's resting time should be as long as its cooking time

During a question-and-answer session with fans in the middle of his YouTube livestream, Gordon Ramsay was asked how long it takes to cook a turkey. It doesn't take a Michelin-starred chef to answer that one: It depends on the size of the bird, of course — although Ramsay said, as a general rule, you should cook your Thanksgiving main course for two and a half to three hours minimum. Then he went on to reveal some of his turkey-cooking tips.

"The secret of cooking a great turkey is letting it rest for as long as it cooks, and more importantly, baste," Ramsay said. The basting needs to happen while the bird cooks. "Those birds need basting, and if we don't sort of open up those legs inside and baste in between those thighs, you're going to have a raw thigh and an overcooked breast, so baste, baste, baste."

Gordon Ramsay just added a good two hours at least to everyone's Thanksgiving prep time. Other sources, including Cook's Illustrated and The New York Times, recommend just 40 or 45 minutes of resting after cooking for larger birds.

This is why you should turn your turkey upside down

Gordon Ramsay offered one more turkey tip during his YouTube livestream: "The secret behind letting it rest is turning the bird upside down halfway after you've rested it." We don't know if anyone other than Ramsay has recommended flipping the bird (so to speak) midway through the resting period. Was this some sort of joke, motivated by the British chef's desire to exact revenge on the United States for everything from Plymouth Rock through independence to the War of 1812?

Maybe not. None other than Martha Stewart, perhaps the greatest cooking authority from New England, suggests on her website that you cook your turkey upside down, to let all the juices from the leg parts trickle down to the breast. (This method also helps correct the undercooked thighs/overcooked breast problem faced by many a turkey cook — something Ramsay tries to solve with the mantra, "Baste, baste, baste.") We suspect Ramsay is going after the same thing with his upside-down approach to resting the turkey after it cooks: The juices can settle into breast meat that might otherwise be a little dry.

If your holiday guests give you strange looks for perching the turkey upside down — or if they keep asking why they need to wait three hours after the turkey's done before they can eat — then you can channel your inner Ramsay and tell them to "Eff off." And say it just like that, in case they can hear you from the kids' table.