30 Pound Turkey ... Cook turkey parts (white and dark meat) separately?
I just got handed a 30 pound turkey to cook.
Given the size, I'm thinking about cutting up this dinosaur, ahem, I mean bird and roasting the breast and thigh/leg parts separately.
Anyone have experience with a bird of this size? Is it too big to roast whole? I fear if I put the thing in the oven parts of it will overcook and dry out.
I use a method i found in an Alton brown article. Rub the brined turkey with butter. Put the whole bird into a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes (gets a nice brown skin). Pull the turkey and cover the breast with foil. Insert a probe thermometer and finish the turkey at 350. Pull the bird when the temp hits 162, it will carry over to 165. Don't stuff the bird, it will slow the process and the breast will be over cooked.
The foil creates a heat shiel that slows the cooking of the white meat. The exposed dark meat gets more heat. Takes a 2 and a half hours more for an 18 to 22 lb bird. A big 30 lber will take longer.
I have done it with birds from 15 to 25 lbs, it has been bulletproof. The turkey looks great, and each type of meat is tender and juicy.
For a number of years now, I roast two turkeys which have had the legs and thighs removed, the back and neck removed (for stock), and the rib cages removed from the breast meat with the breast bone split and removed as well. The two breasts are cooked with skin and wings attached on wire racks. The up side to this is an attractive display sans bones and easy carving.
I would suggest you try this method or consider roasting what is known as a Bone-In Turkey Breast or a Hotel Turkey Breast that is commonly used in catering halls and buffet lines. This is where the wings, legs and thighs have been removed and the back portion of the bird is partially removed to allow it to sit upright for easy carving.
I have more details how I roast my turkeys at this thread:
You can get an idea of how to cut the back off the turkey to allow it to rest firmly on it's *base* from the pictures in this link:
Turkeys that big are more manageable if butchered up first. Unless you are feeding more than 20 people, you could cut it in half and cook the rest for another meal. Otherwise, at the very least, remove the legs and wings and cook separately. In order to cut out the backbone for spatchcocking, you might need to take it to a butcher, unless you have some really hard-core cleavers and knives. I once did a 25# bird whole but it was quite difficult to manage. I wanted to start it breast side down since it was going to need so long to cook, and would not want to try turning a hot bird of that size again without another person to help. On the upside, once you pack all the leftovers away, you'll have the option of defrosting many a dinner on nights when you aren't up to cooking. Enjoy your pterodactyl!
for the past couple years we have gotten a 30 pounder from the butcher, and i roast it in the oven with no problem (it's probably longer than your average size turkey). last year I brined it and roasted it and it came out fabulous!! make sure you have a big enough roasting pan.