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Nov 14, 2006 05:43 AM

Cooking turkey in a bag?

Has anyone tried cooking turkey in a plastic baking bag? I've heard this ensures a very moist turkey. I want to brine it as well, but would that be too much - brining AND bagging?

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  1. I brine and bag the turkey. I tend to cook it at 350 for 6 to 8 hours to make sure both the meat and stuffing are cooked to the proper temps, but the meat is moist and the skin is crispy.

    It may sound like it would be very dry, but the double protection of the bag and the brine assure a very moist bird. The bag also assures that all the pan juices don't evaporate and I don't have to worry about basting.

    I would suggest that you put a bit of a compound butter (butter with poultry seasoning) between the skin and the meat before roasting.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Kelli2006

      Kelli2006...can you elaborate on your meathod and recipes for brining ....I have a 21 LBer I need to plan for... bags come in different sizes? Will a big bird fit in?

      1. re: Susanbnyc

        The best brining recipe can be found at Alton Brown's website at Food

        The large size bags are marked as to being able to fit a 24lb bird, but you need to check to make sure when you buy the bag. I always buy the large sized bags, as they give me plenty of room and it makes getting the slippery critter in the bag easier. You need to follow the direction when prepping the bag, as they need to be dusted with a bit of flour at the time.

        Clare, I always wash and clean the turkey(remove any missed pin feathers and trim excess fat, removes the metal trussing contraption,and clip wing tips off. I like to mix 1 stick of butter with about 1 TBL of Penzey's poultry spice, and rub this mixture between the skin and meat before roasting. The stuffing CANNOT be inserted the night before, or you are inviting food poisoning.
        Clare, I usually do a 12-15 lb bird and I have no problems. The internal timer will usually pop-up about a hour or so before the internal temp is correct, but don't worry. I like to use a remote probe to make the the internal temps of the stuffing cavity (170 and assume carryover of 5+/- degrees.) is correct. The meat will usually fall off the bone , but it does need to be rested for approx 10 minutes . I cover the bird with foil and a towel during this time period.

        Joan, I make a blonde roux and utilize the pan juices(removed with a turkey baster) and the giblets, to make the gravy while the bird is resting.

        P.S.-I also volunteer at a free meal program, so I will be roasting 3x 12-14lb birds early next week for that program.

      2. re: Kelli2006

        Thanks Kelli - I will do both the brine and bag this year. Around what size turkey do you normally use? Would you mind giving me the specifics?

        1. re: Kelli2006

          hi there,

          do you still tie the bird legs when you stuff and put in the bag?

        2. Although I've tried other methods of roasting a turkey over the years, I always returned to the Reynolds bag. As Kelli says, contrary to what one might presume, not only is the meat very moist but the skin is gloriously crispy. As she also notes, the pan juices don't evaporate, they accumulate in the bottom of the bag. Keep in mind that that means no fond for gravy. If you want gravy, you might want to look into making one separate for the T'giving Day juices. The timing of the bird is very forgiving; you can even let it cook an additional hour without drying out the meat.

          I brine only if I've bought a non-Kosher bird. I find brining a Kosher bird (either turkey or chicken) makes it saltier than I like. But use of the bag does not increase the saltiness of the meat.

          5 Replies
          1. re: JoanN

            I revert to the Reynold's bag too, in fact I chose to use it again this year but used the new 165 degree standard and it turned out really well. I love to experiment with adding various fresh herbs, rubs and small amounts of liquid as it imparts a lot of flavor. The resulting juices produce a good stock than can be transformed into good gravy even without the fond.

            1. re: JoanN

              I also had good luck with the Reynolds bag. Set it and forget turned out wonderful and the lack of stress was an added bonus.

              Didn't need to brine either. Very moist!

              1. re: JoanN

                I have used a Reynold's bag for years and love it. I set the bag on a rack and about 1 hour or so before I think the bird will be done, I puncture the bag on the bottom and let the juices drain into my aluminum foil lined roasting pan. This gives the juices just enough time to brown for gravy. Have done this for a number of years and have not heard of any complaints about gravy. I don't particularly care for bottled or powdered gravy.

                1. re: mochi mochi

                  Very interesting! I gave passing thought to trying that but was afraid the breast meat, which is always so wonderfully juicy when cooked in the bag, might dry out. Obviously, yours doesn't. I always make do-ahead gravy, but it means more turkey parts to buy and yet another dish to have to cook. I'll try to remember your tip for next year. Thanks!

                  1. re: JoanN

                    I am always trying to save time and energy. You are a very dedicated cook that goes the extra mile for taste. I applaud you for that!

              2. Wow, you cook a 15 lb bird for 6-8 hours and it still comes out moist?

                Thanks so much for all the tips!!


                6 Replies
                1. re: Clare K

                  Clare, I always use a digital probe thermometer and monitor both the breast and stuffing cavity temps. I prefer it done low and slow and 4-5 hours is typical, but the bag gives 60 minutes of hold time when guests don't arrive.

                  1. re: Clare K

                    If you want the tastiest bird EVER make a brine solution (water, kosher salt and a touch of sugar) soak the bird overnight and cook as directed above (brown paper bag). Not only will the bird be tender and moist but it will be especially flavor full.

                    1. re: zamazon

                      A college roommate made a turkey in a brown paper bag without brining one year (we were too lazy to brine). It was great. Thanks for reminding me of this method.

                      ETA: I guess we cooked and ate that turkey at our own risk. I just found this warning on another site while googling "brown paper bag turkey":

                      In May 1998 the United States Department of Agriculture issued the following advice:

                      Do not use BROWN PAPER BAGS for cooking. They are not sanitary, may cause a fire and can emit toxic fumes. Intense heat may cause a bag to ignite, causing a fire in the oven and possibly adulterating the turkey. The ink, glue, and recycled materials in paper bags can emit toxic fumes when they are exposed to heat. Instead, use purchased oven cooking bags.

                      1. re: Neuromancer

                        MIL has used this method for years with outproblems. BTW the brown paper grocery bags work really well in leiu of newspaper as in those charcoal chimneys. They heat the charcoals sooner and aren't as smelly as newspaper.

                        1. re: Neuromancer

                          My father ALWAYS used a brown paper sack to cook his turkey, and out of 7 kids, 7 are still alive huh what do you know, the government is wrong

                      2. re: Clare K

                        If your oven temp is correct 6 to 8 hrs. is way tooooooo long!!!! (@325 or 350 deg.)

                      3. I tried it for the first time this year and it was less than good. The turkey got done way before it got brown so I had to overcook it so it looked respectable. I will never do it again.

                        1. You can't use a plastic bag but I cook mine the way my 88 year old mom used to. Take a paper shopping bag, butter your bird (that sounds kinda kinky as I read it back, LOL) then put bird in paper bag which you depose in a baking pan. Your turkey will be moist inside and have a golden crispy exterior. ALso prevents the oven from gettin dirty. Just remember to open the paper bag (slit down middle with a knife) approx 15-20 minutes before the bird is done.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: zamazon

                            I cooked turkey in a paper bag once. It tasted great, but there was a great deal of moisture in the bag at the end, and I think I was unable to make a proper gravy from it. It was a natural uninjected bird, but I probably brined it.

                            About bags, the person I bought it from made a point of giving me a paper bag without chemical labeling.