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Nov 8, 2010 11:24 AM

Do turkey legs and breast really need to be roasted separately for a succulent result?

My turkey is always too dry. Someone told me that if I cooked the legs/thighs separate from the breast I'd have a moister turkey. Is this true? Is there a work-around so that I can roast the whole bird at once?

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  1. there are many techniques for a juicy whole roasted bird. and lots of people have opinions on it. Some: brine first. start roasting breast down. baste. (Or don't baste for crisp skin). put herbs and butter between skin and meat. high heat. low heat. start with a really good heritage turkey. start with a fresh turkey. deep fry. what do you do now?

    1. Spatchcock it! Remove the backbone and flatten the bird. It reduces the roasting time by hours (literally) and allows the breast and thighs to cook evenly. My 18 lb. bird cooked in 90 minutes last year.

      1. Okay, so here's my take on the subject. I was going to be on "Barbeque With Bobby Flay" throught the home brewing club I was cooking for back in 2006. My problem? I had to smoke an entire 13.5 pound turkey in about 2 1/2 hours. How do I do this when the average roasting time is 8 to 9 hours for a turkey that size. I went into my local supermarket, picked up two fresh turkeys about the same weight, (so I could do the "swap out" on camera,) then walked up to the guy behind the Meat Counter and said, "I want these cut up!" "Cut 'em up like chicken?" he replied. "Like chicken!" I said. I watched as he went into the back room and used the blade saw to hack the two turkeys up and package them separately. I then took them home, brined the one bird overnight in an Apple Cider brine and the next day had that puppy smoked using apple and alder wood chunks done and sliced in about 3 hours! The director of the shoot even said, "Wow! That's the most moist turkey breast I have ever eaten!" The nicest thing about raosting a turkey this way is you can remove the white meat when it's ready, cover it and let it rest as you finish roasting the dark meat!

          1. re: jvanderh

            we've never had a problem with breast dryness since we started brining. Even tho we are not breast lovers, it renders the breast moist and edible. Typically we will follow the start at high temp roasting on each side and then lowering the temp and flipping it with breast up for the end tho Im not sure the acrobatics (recommended orig by Ray Sokolin and later by Cooks Mag) is really needed, We also aim for the vicinity of 165 degrees/juices run clear whentested in the thigh. Almost invariably we overshoot on the temperature at the end but it doesnt seem to matter with the brining technique.

          2. You can roast the whole bird and have it be moist and golden brown. I love Giada De Laurentiis's recipe. She starts at higher heat with just the breast covered in foil, then reduces heat adds some liquid to the pan and eventually uncovers the breast to let it brown and cook. I've made it for 3 years with excellent results. The foil slows down the initial cooking of the breast and the liquid in the pan keeps things moist while still allowing a good brown skin.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Christnp

              Yeah, tenting with foil is generally the way to do it, esp. if you've got one of those ginourmous birds.