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Turkey - a notion

I found a fantastic method some time ago for roast chicken, dry thoroughly, inside and out and salt inside and out and roast at 415 for one hour. This works for 3 1/2-4 lb chicken and it's the best I've ever made - it's perfect. (No turning, basting, nothing else, and don't open the oven door.) Would this work for a turkey, perhaps, 12 lbs for 3 hours?

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  1. Sounds like you're talking about dry-brining, or pre-salting? There are some great (older) threads here:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/459930
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/572976

    but some new insights might have been made.

    I always pre-salt my chickens, like you do, but cook at a lower temp. Haven't had the courage to do this with the Thanksgiving turkey (we still dunk in the washtub of water brine). Probably the 2 most critical things will be your cooking temp (which will depend on size) and whether your turkey is pre-brined (injected with solution) or not.

    1. I would not think so - the outside of the bird would be cooked beyond edibility before the interior was done.

      4 Replies
      1. re: BobB

        If roasting the turkey whole, I would agree with BobB.......however, I recall some celebritycooking show (I believe it was either Wolfgang Puck or Emeril Lagasse) who cut up the turkey and split the breast bone so the two breasts with rib cage laid flat on a rack, and the two leg/thighs positioned on the sides. The cut up racked turkey was then placed over another pan which contained the stuffing. Come to think of it, America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated may have also featured this method in a program or issue.

        The cut up method/split breast method used a brined turkey and cooked at 425-450* , and cooked in less than two hours.

        1. re: fourunder

          That sounds interesting. But could the stuffing survive nearly two hours at that heat? Or was it added at some point during the cooking?

          1. re: BobB

            Bob,

            In the past, I have used this method to cook both turkeys and chickens when stuffing is made. Now, I usually make my turkey stuffing and gravy beforehand, or while the turkey is roasting. For my traditional recipe I make my stuffing with turkey stock and breakfast sausage in large amounts, so I no longer use or make with the high heat/quick, over the stuffing roast method to get the drippings into the stuffing mix. Instead, I prefer to roast the turkeys (2 quantity), legs and thighs removed & breasts with rib cage with split breast bone, low and slow @ 225* with browning at the end, separately from the stuffing. Everyone in my family prefers it this way, along with a Turkey Roll, which I will explain shortly. This makes for very easy removal of the bones for slicing, and very moist turkey.

            In the past, I have made the stuffing twice under the high heat roast turkey method. I used a hotel pan, which has a side depth of 2 3/4 inches with a wire cooling rack over the top of the pan. As noted above, my family prefers sausage stuffing and I can only surmise that the fat rendered from the sausage allowed for the bottom of the stuffing to get a little greasy and crisp. It wasn't terrible, but there was sticking to the bottom of the pan. My second attempt came out much better with two modifications to the roasting process. The first was to use a silcone baking mat as a liner under stuffing...and the second was to cook the turkey/stuffing combination on the lower rack in the oven. This accomplished the following:

            * Easy removal of the stuffing. After removing the turkey on the rack to another sheet pan, I scored the sides of the pan to separate the stuffing. I then placed a cutting board over the stuffing and inverted it over. The pan came off easily and I peeled off the silicone baking mate. What resulted was a nice, and large surface of crust (not burnt), which was easy to cut into serving portions.....much to the delight of those who fight for the crusty parts. Very clean and easy overall.

            With regards for the Turkey Roll, after seeing a recipe in some magazine, for the past three of four years, I now debone the turkey completely, pounding out the meat to one inch thickness, then roll it around the stuffing to tie it up. This accomplishes the following:

            * A Nice Visual Presentation
            * Very Easy Slices, One Inch Thickness (Approximately 24 Slices)
            * Equal Amounts of Meat, Skin and Stuffing for Everyone

            The first time I attempted this recipe, it was difficult to roll and wrap due to it's size. It was so large it was too large for the hotel pan, even with placement on an angle. The nice thing about rolling it up though was, the white meat was on one end and the dark meat was on another. To counter the too large for pan problem, I still debone the whole turkey, but I now separate the white meat from the dark meat. After the turkey is completely removed from the carcass, I simply run the knife straight across between the Breasts and Legs/Thighs. I cut slits in the meat before light pounding, much like you would do a Leg of Lamb before rolling it up boneless roast style.

          2. re: fourunder

            There is a spread on this method in this month's Martha Stewart magazine, looked like a good idea.

        2. I also use the method you described for chicken (except I add some lemon and garlic 'mash' to the interior and put a bit of water in the pan underneath). Works like a charm!

          But I agree that this would not work for a larger bird.

          I do have a simple technique that I think does. Just rotate the bird.

          We stuff our 15-25 lb bird as usual and put it in the oven at 400 degress and then reduce after 15 minutes to 325 degrees. Work out the total cooking time for stuffed turkey. Then divide that time in 4 and turn the turkey one-quarter (with heavy rubber gloves purchased just for this purpose) 3 times.

          We start it on it's side so it can end up breast side up as that is the side most likely to get dry.

          This works really well for distributing the juices more evenly.No basting or other fussing and use of a timer makes this easy and frankly, this is not chemistry class, you don't have to be slavish to the clock-10 minutes either way, doesn't make a difference if the game is really interesting!

          Now, I will warn you: the bird looks a little more battered than usual, so if you are one of those families that does the carve at the table thing, this method may not be for you.

          But if you do your carving in the kitchen and lay out buffet style, then this is a really useful technique.

          1. Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm intriqued by the technique Fourunder describes and will search it out. It may take some good knife work to cut up a raw turkey..or perhaps that's a good job for the butcher.

            3 Replies
            1. re: serious

              Came across this today.... there's more than one video, since this is #3.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VG18U...

              My turkey always looks much better when pulled from the oven......one tip if you like a nice caramel color when browning......brine with molasses and honey.....

              1. re: fourunder

                "one tip if you like a nice caramel color when browning......brine with molasses and honey....."
                Do you mean brine with molasses and honey before roasting or baste with a molasses-honey blend while the turkey roasts, obviously to get a nice brown skin?
                Just need clarificaton...

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  Brine in your liquid solution before roasting with the molasses and honey, in addition, included as your ingredients with Kosher salt and sugar/brown sugar.

                  I saw it done twice on cooking shows by Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay before I tried it. The results are definitely noticeable with the addition, than without and say, just butter...... it's a much deeper and richer color at the end.