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High Temp Turkey - I solved the smoke problem

jerry i h Nov 25, 2006 04:46 AM

Turkeys cooked at high temp - 475 degrees - come out perfectly for me. This method has become very popular recent years, but they also come with many humorous stories of smoke filled kitchens, smoke alarms going off, or the fire department showing up. Here's the problem: when the turkey juice/grease drips onto a blazing hot roasting pan, it makes a lot of smoke. Here is how I solved it: line the bottom of the roasting pan with root vegetables. Not only was there no smoke, but the veggies were heavenly and soft (why not? they soaked up every single drop of fat from an entire 12# turkey; not a low calorie, low fat side dish...).

I use a 11 x 16 roasting pan, line the bottom with aluminum foil (shiny side up) and spray it with PAM. Take a few of pounds of root vegetables (carrot, potato, sweet potato, onion, parsnip, turnip, rutabaga), peel and cut into large-ish chunks and wedges, toss with a little generic vegetable oil. Spread vegetable onto bottom of pan; the goal is to make an even layer, so the turkey has a flat bed to lie on.

I butterfly the turkey (which is NOT brined, kosher, or injected; too salty for me), then lay it directly on top of the vegetables (no roasting rack necessary). I sprinkled a tad of Bell Seasoning on bird, and rubbed on top with a small amount of generic vegetable oil. Roast at 475 until thermometer in thick part of breast reads 160; my 12# took 1 hour 15 minutes. Loosely cover with fresh piece of aluminum foil and rest for 30 minutes, then carve and eat.

Butterfly? This is a new term for me; I always called it spatchcock. Anyway, this requires a heavy meat cleaver and some knife skills and strength, so you might want to ask the butcher to do it for you. You put bird on board, breast down. Cut down one side of backbone, then down the other; careful, start at the neck and go down, since there is one big bone towards the bottom you have to hack through. At this point your hands will be greasy, and that knife will start to slip and slide in your hand, so be careful and do not rush (wipe your hand on a wad of paper towels if necessary). Turn turkey over and press down hard with both hands to break the keel bone and flatten out breast. I also do these finicky things: cut off wing tips, drumstick knobs, and bishop's nose, and do not forget to remove the wishbone.

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  1. prunefeet RE: jerry i h Nov 27, 2006 08:59 PM

    For me much of the smoke comes from not having a perfectly clean oven...whatever is on the walls smokes when it gets really hot. HOWEVER, I love this idea, I bet the vegetables were really delicious.

    1. opinionatedchef RE: jerry i h Nov 27, 2006 09:18 PM

      EXCELLENT post. very thoughtful procedural description too.
      this is going into the turkey file! thank you.

      1. Caralien RE: jerry i h Dec 5, 2011 03:03 PM

        The smoke problem is easily solved by adding 1-2C of water to the pan prior to roasting. The drippings just add flavour for making the gravy by deglazing with wine, adding more pepper and mushrooms.

        Trying a somewhat upright 13lb turkey tonight at a high temp--550F for 20 min, 475 for 90 (will check in 60).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Caralien
          alkapal RE: Caralien Jan 14, 2012 03:48 PM

          heeeeey caralien, you are back!!!! YAY!

          1. re: alkapal
            Caralien RE: alkapal Jan 16, 2012 12:41 PM


            Btw: the 13lb turkey was perfect in 2 hours. We let it rest 20 minutes.

            There was some smoke from burnt crud on the oven floor, so that evening we set the oven to self-clean.

        2. h
          HeyImBack RE: jerry i h Jan 15, 2012 07:47 AM

          That's similar to how I cook bone-in turkey breasts. I roast them at 500 for 8.5 minutes per pound and they come out perfect every time. Just made one last night. I do occasionally get smoking in my oven but I don't think it's as bad as OP b/c my bird is proportionately smaller (being only the breast) and cooks for a shorter period of time.

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