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HELP! Need advice for cooking a Turkey in a small oven

v
vaterps71 Nov 7, 2006 04:03 PM

I live in a typical NYC apartment with a small kitchen and oven. What is the best way to test the oven temperature before I actually cook a turkey for Thanksgiving? I was thinking about cooking a chicken to test it but I'm sure there is a better way. HELP

  1. d
    Dizzied Nov 7, 2006 04:12 PM

    I hear your pain (tiny kitchen, Boston). Buy an oven thermometer -- they're only a few bucks and most grocery stores carry them. Baking anything and checking the actual temp against the given temp will give you a sense of how off your oven is (and in which direction). If you've never roasted a bird before, testing a chicken would be a safe start.

    1. p
      pgreen Nov 7, 2006 04:15 PM

      Not to sound trite, but you should start with a good oven thermometer. Back in college, I had occasion to cook my first turkey in a tiny, and very old, oven. It was then that I learned--much to my good fortune--that old ovens burn hot. Because we were forced for other reasons to move up eating time by about two hours, this turned out to be a very good thing. The oven was so hot that the turkey was actually cooked through in the shortened time frame. The other fortunate accident was that I had nary a clue which was the breast side, so I cooked the bird breast side down. Had I not done so, in an oven that hot, I would have ended up with a turkey breast the consistency of shoe leather. As it happens, it was cooked perfectly. Better to be lucky then good. (Best to be both.) So good luck to you.

      1. s
        serious Nov 7, 2006 04:18 PM

        Agree..oven thermometers are just a few dollars and I've never been persuaded to buy a 'fancy' one. Once you are secure in oven temperature, cook the turkey to time - and loose wing. I annually prepare Thanksgiving dinner for 14 in a 20" standard issue apt oven.

        1. ozzygee Nov 7, 2006 05:12 PM

          I will join the chorus; no matter how new or reliable you think your oven is, a separate oven thermometer is a must if you want to control the temperature at all times. I do recommend you spend a few bucks more and buy one that will last, is grease resistant and can withstand higher temperatures. You won't regret it.

          (I paid $6 for a Polder 550 and so far it works great. It revealed that my new oven runs 50 degrees hotter than the dial setting.)

          1. pitu Nov 7, 2006 05:20 PM

            yes yes, for sure an oven thermometer
            AND check the temp periodically over a long period of time -- my ancient stove not only runs hot, but ramps up temperature over the course of time . . .

            1. HaagenDazs Nov 7, 2006 06:04 PM

              Thermometer's the way to go. If you're looking for space saving tips try separating both legs from the beast and roast them separately. Be sure to put the legs in first and the breast in a few minutes later to compensate for the different cooking times. Julia Child recommended doing this for all turkeys.

              1. Scrapironchef Nov 7, 2006 08:53 PM

                Look into the remote read thermometers that tell you food and oven temp.

                http://www.amazon.com/Polder-Dual-Sen...

                With a small oven you want to leave it closed as much as possible and this will monitor the process better than constantly oepning up to check.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Scrapironchef
                  Will Owen Nov 7, 2006 09:07 PM

                  I agree utterly with that. While I have a double wall oven, they're both small (16" front to back), and neither of them heats really evenly. I got a Polder remote thermometer for about $30 at Bad Breath & Beyond, and while its reporting of oven temperature is barely credible its internal-temp reporting is right on the money...and that's what is most important.

                  1. re: Will Owen
                    Candy Nov 7, 2006 11:06 PM

                    Though I do monitor my oven's temp and regulate as needed I always use my remote probe thermometer when roasting just about anything. Only way to go. You have got to have the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh and not touching a bone. It is the only reliable way to guage when the bird is done.

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