roasting a whole boneless turkey
Has anyone had any experience with roasting a whole deboned turkey in the 15 pound range? I thought I might give this a try and stuff it into a roll or something, or I could just leave it flat which would lead to easy carving. I'm pretty handy with a knife and have deboned many chickens before so I don't think it would be a problem.
we bone a turkey (20-24 lbs) every year. cut off the drumsticks and the wings below the drumettes (use the kickstands for stock but roast the middle wing part and the legs with the whole bird). then we rub it inside with seasoned oil (Johnnys seasoning salt, black pepper, garlic powder, dried sage) and sew it up Including the holes where the arms and the legs were cut. the benefits: roasts quickly in a couple of hours (use a chef's thermometer to test for doneness) and sewing the skin back up keeps it very juicy. and of course it's super easy to carve.
Every fall season there is no shortage of recipe ideas from magazines and celebrity chefs on the food shows. In the past five years or so, I always seem to find one recipe that intrigues me enough to try it for our family's table. In my work history past, I have seen many different methods of roasting turkey as well. From all the trials, experimentation and methods....what I have concluded is if you have the time, slow roasting at low temperatures offers very moist turkey breast meat with the highest yields(less shrinkage).
Among the methods I have tried are slow roasted as mentioned above, fast roasted high heat, brined , butterflied with bones and or legs and thighs roasted attached and separately, hotel breast, de-boned whole and rolled and boneless breast boneless stuffed.
My family's Thanksgiving Turkey is rarely presented at the table and always served out of the kitchen, so the presentation part of the meal is not an issue. If presentation is important to you, consider roasting the the bird with the legs and thighs removed and the back the turkey removed. With the breast meat still attached to the rib cage, it will hold it's shape and you can place the legs and thighs around the breast for the same whole bird effect and you will still be able to present the turkey at the table, The benefit of this is you get to save some roasting time and with the back and neck, you can make your stock and prepare your gravy earlier.
If you want to prepare the boneless breast, you can roast both breasts still attached to the skin with the breast bone removed and rib cage removed, similar to how meats look from the deli case.....or you can leave the rib cage attached for better shape....but then it would not be boneless. I would also suggest you cook the meat on a rack to elevate the meat for better airflow and more consistent cooking. My last suggestion is to cook this low and slow if you have the time....to brown the skin, just bath in butter at the end on high temperature and you will have a great looking piece of meat.
As for rolled and stuffed. Cook's Illustrated featured this recipe a few years back. Their recipe called for de-boning the whole bird, pounding to a consistent thickness, adding your favorite stuffing and then roll and tie so it resembles a log. The thought is you have a beautifully presented turkey where everyone gets a consistent piece of meat with an appropriate amount of stuffing. The one problem I found with this method though is, with a large bird, the length of the rolled turkey can exceed 24 inches and it's hard to fit a large pan in the home kitchen oven. To remedy the problem, I found it was easier to remove the legs and thighs first, de-bone them separately and then stuff and roll them. The result by accident was you now have the meat separated into white and dark meats for easier carving and serving for taste preferences. One word of caution with a rolled turkey. Make sure you have your head count at the table first so you can slice the necessary amount of slices per person needed. If you have a large group, you will need thinner slices to have enough to go around.
Your cooking time will vary but the internal temperature will still have to reach the appropriate level so, whether you "debone" it or leave it intact, the only gain I can see is that it'll be easier to carve. I wouldn't leave it "flat". It might carve easier that way but the presentation would be ghastly. Whether or not you decide to stuff the roll, at least roll and tie it for baking.