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How to turn a turkey?

  • m

Normally my sis cooks our Thanksgiving turkey on a Spanek vertical roaster. However, this year we'll have a bigger bird which will only fit on a standard horizontal "V" rack. So which is better to turn it, conventional turning "forks" or one of those new silicon mitts? She's afraid the turning forks will pierce the skin, with loss of juices. On the other hand, maybe the silicon mitt will be too slippery? (we don't own one.)

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  1. Gently asking: why do you need to turn the turkey? Though I have heard of roasting it breast side down at first...is that what you are doing? Thanks, always like learning something new, but have not tried doing the "breast side down" first method...so afraid of tearing that gorgeous skin.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Val

      I generally do turn the turkey - yes, even a 20+ pound one - because it comes out much juicier. Sometimes the breast comes out a little wierdly shaped. Worth it.

      Actually, my sister accidently roasted the turkey upside-down one year. I thought she was doing it on purpose to keep it juicy. Turns out she just didn't know which side of a turkey generally goes up, which says something about how much each of us thinks about food. Anyway, that turkey was really, really good., though it wasn't exactly a looker.

    2. The Cook's Illustrated method is breast down, then each leg up, then breast up.... They recommend a wad of moistened paper towels. I usually use regular pot holder mitts, which I wash afterwards.

      1. I've been doing breast side down for 30 years. I never turn it.

        The only conceivable downside is that the breast does not brown. So, I'm roating it to eat, not to pose for a magazine cover. The extra juciness MORE than makes up for its cosmetic "flaws".

        You surely can turn it right side up for the last half hour or 45 minutes, but, if you roast a big bird like I do, it's a real pain in the butt. Wrestling with a hot, 25-pound object is not my idea of fun and doesn't promote kitchen safety.

        If you must turn your bird, chase everyone out of the kitchen to keep them OUT of your way! 8-)

        1. Your turkey may be too big to do this, but for a small turkey or large roasting chicken, I (ahem) insert the handle of a wooden spoon into the cavity, then (with another spoon, tongs or the aforementioned paper towels) give the bird a little spin until it's facing the way I want, and gently let it down.

          1. I actually made a roasted turkey yesterday and turned it just using regular hot pad mitts, which I washed afterwards. Wasn't slippery at all.

            1. I actually cook on its sides for most of the cook, flipping back and forth every half hour. I usually use clean dish towels, which go right in washer when done. Finding a good place to grip is tough, especially as it gets closer to done, but the top of the breast is pretty sturdy.

              1. I've turned the turkey for at least the past three years and i have yet to turn it without ripping the skin where it joins to the leg, which breaks my heart each and every time...


                1. This is sooo easy.... buy new heavy duty rubber gloves every time you make a turkey!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bon

                    I was given a rotisserie oven and the best thing about it was the silicone gloves that came with it, totally heatproof and grease proof. I use them more for turning turkeys and chickens in the regular oven than anything, and they've lasted about 10 years now with no sign of wearing out.

                    Something like this but with fingers

                  2. Try roasting it on it's side first... then on the other side... then finally at the end, breast up just long enough for it to brown... and honestly... I would just use any oven mitt and wash it after... it's worth it to avoid piercing the skin and losing the prized juices... Also, if the turkey will not stay in place, try putting balls of aluminum foil under the sides to prop it up.