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Enormously, tremendously, stupendously huge turkey advice?

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Tatania Nov 21, 2010 07:02 AM

For reasons too convoluted to go into, this year our turkey is a 35+-pounder. I'm a little daunted. I usually wet-brine -- is this guy too big for that? Should I dry-brine? Anyone have any advice on this ... weighty matter? Thank you!

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  1. z
    Zusie RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 07:04 AM

    Did you already buy the bird? Wouldn't it be easier to get two 20 pounders? That way there are more legs and wings too. Although I guess that would mean twice the equipment.

    I'm not sure about the brine I would guess it would work but it would take more time to soak into the meat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Zusie
      t
      Tatania RE: Zusie Nov 21, 2010 07:10 AM

      Yeah, it's a done deal - one I don't plan to repeat, but it's a fact on the ground this year.

    2. blue room RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 07:18 AM

      Wow, I would first call one of those turkey hotlines that poultry companies operate around Thanksgiving. It seems like you'd need some professional or at least experienced *with huge turkey cooking* advice.

      9 Replies
      1. re: blue room
        t
        Tatania RE: blue room Nov 21, 2010 07:23 AM

        So you're telling me to seek professional help? ;)

        1. re: Tatania
          blue room RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 07:33 AM

          :)
          OK, here's a picture of a 40 pounder--does it scare you?

          http://ktis.fm/blogs/morning/2008/11/

          1. re: blue room
            bushwickgirl RE: blue room Nov 21, 2010 07:42 AM

            Wow, all I can say is that poor turkey, bred to be so big around the breast there was no ability for him to have any, um, relationships with lady turkeys. Sad. Oh well. Anyway, wet brine it the usual way, for 12 hours max and roast for a long time...

            1. re: bushwickgirl
              ZenSojourner RE: bushwickgirl Nov 21, 2010 07:50 AM

              All commercial turkeys are that way. None of them are capable of breeding on their own.

              1. re: ZenSojourner
                bushwickgirl RE: ZenSojourner Nov 21, 2010 07:53 AM

                All commercially produced large breasted turkeys. Yes, and it's sad.

            2. re: blue room
              t
              Tatania RE: blue room Nov 21, 2010 07:49 AM

              Exposure therapy? :)

              1. re: blue room
                z
                Zusie RE: blue room Nov 21, 2010 07:51 AM

                Oh dear lord. Yes, yes it does scare me. I wonder if you'll even be able to break the wishbone in that thing.

                1. re: blue room
                  monku RE: blue room Nov 21, 2010 09:13 AM

                  Sure doesn't look like that 40 pounder was going to fit in that oven behind her.

                  1. re: blue room
                    silkenpaw RE: blue room Nov 22, 2010 05:29 PM

                    What terrifies me more is the prospect of daily cooking on that range. Couldn't get a stock pot on it to save your life.

              2. Bada Bing RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 07:20 AM

                Wow, I didn't know they got that big!

                I should think that brining would be equally workable whether wet or dry, but be sure not to soak it too long (6-12 hours max in a strong brine like 1 cup kosher salt to a gallon of water; you could go longer with a weaker brine).

                Depending on your tools and sense of tradition, you might also consider breaking the bird down and roasting it so that you could pull the separate parts as they come to temperature. That's on the theory that a bigger bird might exacerbate the usual doneness differences of white and dark meat. Good luck!

                7 Replies
                1. re: Bada Bing
                  t
                  Tatania RE: Bada Bing Nov 21, 2010 07:26 AM

                  Interesting. Are you saying I should brine for a *shorter* time than with a normal bird? I would have thought the opposite. Why?

                  As for butchering the thing, that was the original (sensible) plan, but it's been nixed.

                  1. re: Tatania
                    Bada Bing RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 07:38 AM

                    A traditionalist put the kibosh on butchering? Well, that's Thanksgiving for you.

                    About brine times, I don't mean to say a *shorter* brine timing than is probably typical for you. But here's my concern: I know that some briners follow a time-to-weight formula (an hour per pound-and-a-half, or whatever), but with a weight that high, you run some risk of pickling the bird if you brine it, say, twice as long as you would an 18lb bird.

                    It will be interesting to hear from people with experience. Something makes me think that a lower, longer cook would work best for a whole bird this large. I'd use a probe themometer, maybe even two if possible in different parts of the bird. You might also consider the Cooks Illustrated approach of laying ice packs over the breast meat to even out the breast-thigh cooking times.

                    1. re: Bada Bing
                      t
                      Tatania RE: Bada Bing Nov 21, 2010 08:03 AM

                      >Well, that's Thanksgiving for you.
                      Exactly...

                      Yes, I see what you mean about the brining - a very good point. Thank you. And the ice-pack is a definite.

                      As for longer-lower, this is something else I'm dithering about. It's my first thought as well, though I've also had great success (with smaller turkeys) with the Barbara Kafka 500f shorter blast. Very interested, too, in others' experience.

                      1. re: Bada Bing
                        e
                        emilief RE: Bada Bing Nov 21, 2010 09:59 AM

                        Using a recipe from Alice Waters, I brine my 22 lb. bird for 72 hours. It has always turned out great and never"pickled."

                        1. re: emilief
                          blue room RE: emilief Nov 21, 2010 10:20 AM

                          What sort of container do you have for a bird of that size?

                          1. re: blue room
                            t
                            Tatania RE: blue room Nov 21, 2010 01:39 PM

                            How about a big picnic cooler?

                          2. re: emilief
                            Bada Bing RE: emilief Nov 21, 2010 11:41 AM

                            Interesting. What's your salt/water ratio?

                    2. w
                      weezycom RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 07:36 AM

                      Measure your oven! A bird like that might not fit roasted whole.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: weezycom
                        t
                        Tatania RE: weezycom Nov 21, 2010 08:03 AM

                        Something to be thankful for: it does fit.

                      2. onceadaylily RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 07:48 AM

                        We usually wind up with a thirty plus pound bird. When I brined, I think it was for a day or so. I just followed whatever directions/recipe for the brine I was using in any given year (most have some sort of instruction concerning brine needed per pound with recommended soaking times).

                        I actually skipped brining altogether last year. I just wasn't in the mood to wrestle a big wet bird any more than I already had to. I was going to dry-brine, but scrapped the plan at the last minute. I decided to roast the bird breast side down for the majority of the cooking time, and then flipped it only for the last hour or so (doing a foil tent on a bird that size, to protect the breast, almost required a building permit). We were really pleased with how it turned out.

                        Please note that flipping a bird that size usually requires two people. Good luck!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: onceadaylily
                          t
                          Tatania RE: onceadaylily Nov 21, 2010 08:46 AM

                          >doing a foil tent on a bird that size, to protect the breast, almost required a building permit).
                          Laughing over this line.

                          This is all comforting advice. Breast-side down may be the way to go.

                        2. ZenSojourner RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 07:52 AM

                          I've never brined a bird, and I pretty routinely cooked 30+ pound birds when I could find them (which used to be much easier Back in the Day than it is now in the world of 2.5 children per family).

                          I didn't do anything differently than any other time, except make sure I double checked cooking time and got it started early enough. One good thing is it takes a LOOOOOT of stuffing.

                          19 Replies
                          1. re: ZenSojourner
                            EWSflash RE: ZenSojourner Nov 21, 2010 08:16 AM

                            I was just going to say something like "No way would I dream of stuffing a bird that big" but you've apparently had success with it.

                            1. re: EWSflash
                              t
                              Tatania RE: EWSflash Nov 21, 2010 08:52 AM

                              Think I'll stuff during the resting period; if it works, I'll get the benefit of a lower risk, shorter cooking, but still dripping-infused stuffing. Psyched about that cavernous stuffing cavity!

                              1. re: Tatania
                                w
                                walker RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 11:16 AM

                                You are going to cook the stuffing in a casserole dish first, right? I've been reading it needs to register 165 degrees.

                                1. re: walker
                                  t
                                  Tatania RE: walker Nov 21, 2010 01:39 PM

                                  Yeah, exactly.

                                  1. re: walker
                                    mattstolz RE: walker Nov 22, 2010 04:51 AM

                                    technically, shouldnt a stuffing only have to register 165 if it comes into contact with the raw bird (aka it is actually STUFFING and not dressing)? theres not really anything in dressing that would prohibit it from being served at a lower temp if you are baking it separate?

                                2. re: EWSflash
                                  ZenSojourner RE: EWSflash Nov 21, 2010 08:56 AM

                                  Lots! and lots and lots. And we never died of food poisoning, either. Back in the Day they didn't try to tell everybody stuffing would kill you.

                                  I don't remember what thread it was, but people were thinking somebody's stuffing recipe made way too much. That's about how much I used to make every year. Like 4 to 6 loaves of bread.

                                  1. re: ZenSojourner
                                    boyzoma RE: ZenSojourner Nov 21, 2010 10:53 AM

                                    How in the world could anyone have "too much" stuffing? My kids always asked me to make extra, extra, extra. That would be a snack after school! They still ask me to make mounds of extra. And, we always stuffed the turkey and we never died or got food posioning either!

                                    1. re: boyzoma
                                      EWSflash RE: boyzoma Nov 21, 2010 05:42 PM

                                      +1

                                    2. re: ZenSojourner
                                      paulj RE: ZenSojourner Nov 21, 2010 11:12 AM

                                      Just because you haven't died from undercooked stuffing, does not mean that no one has ever gotten sick from it. The stuffing in the bird does come into contact with uncooked bird juices. If it does not get hot enough it could harbor harmful bacteria. It's an extra thing to pay attention to.

                                      This is the USDA guidelines
                                      http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/T...
                                      They recommend that the stuffing reach at least 165 (a common food safety guideline). So the question is, can you get the stuffing that hot without over cooking the white meat?

                                      1. re: paulj
                                        alanbarnes RE: paulj Nov 21, 2010 01:33 PM

                                        165 is a "better safe than sorry" number. The fact sheet you linked to is good information as far as it goes, but it's intended for consumption by the lowest common denominator. The real answer to your question is a little more complicated, and requires taking into account not just temperature, but time as well.

                                        The USDA's pasteurization tables indicate that chicken or turkey are instantly pasteurized (that is, 99.99999% of salmonella bacteria are killed) at 165F. But you can accomplish the same result by holding the meat at 140F for 28-35 minutes (depending on fat content), or at 150F for 4-5 minutes, or at 160F for about 30 seconds.

                                        Now these tables aren't going to make it into a one-page handout on food safety. And the USDA would rather a lot of people overcook their turkeys than a few people get salmonella infections. But if you're willing to pay attention to the temperature of your stuffing **and how long it spends at that temperature**, you certainly can pasteurize it without overcooking the white meat.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes
                                          g
                                          gfr1111 RE: alanbarnes Dec 4, 2010 05:32 AM

                                          Thanks, Alan Barnes!

                                          You're one of the most interesting posters on these boards and I always learn a lot from you. I'm going to print out what you just wrote and keep it for future reference. I knew that there had to be a way around the "super high heat or food poisoning" problem and you've provided it. A long, relatively low heat cook is the perfect solution.

                                          Up until now, I've just sort of ignored the FDA warnings and done what I always did, reasoning that my mother or relatives cooked stuffing in the turkey for thirty years with no untoward results, but it has been of concern to me. (For one thing, they usually overcooked the bird--not badly, but a bit--so maybe they actually got the temperature up high enough so that bacterial growth wasn't a problem--although it doesn't seem likely. They certainly never had a thermometer to tell.)

                                      2. re: ZenSojourner
                                        DiningDiva RE: ZenSojourner Nov 21, 2010 11:41 AM

                                        ZS, I'm with you. My grandparents owned and operated a poultry ranch for nearly 40 years. We grew our own turkeys every year. The one that went on our table was usually one of the birds that didn't get sold. It could have been anywhere from 12# - 30#, but was usually in the 18-22# range. Neither my grandmother nor my grandfather would agree to not stuffing the bird. Any leftover went into a casserole dish to be mixed in with what came out of the cavity. No one ever got sick, but we always roasted turkeys to a fairly high internal temperature.

                                        I've stuffed many a turkey in my day too, not to mention a few chickens along the way too. Never a problem, a good meat thermometer is a handy tool. I think those of use that grew up with the tradition of stuffing a turkey, spent time in the kitchen doing it, don't have a lot of fear about stuffing because it's kind of like second nature to us. It's when you start overthinking all this stuff (no pun intended) that you pysch yourself out and start making stupid cooking errors.

                                    3. re: ZenSojourner
                                      g
                                      givemecarbs RE: ZenSojourner Nov 21, 2010 11:12 AM

                                      I usually go for bigger is better and have cooked birds that big, no problem. I didn't start brining till recently and the best and biggest turkey I could score this year was 26 pounds. I'm planning on brining my turkey in a cooler in an unheated room in my house. I live in the north east of the usa so the bird will be nicely chilled. I love big turkeys! In my experience they have more flavor, make more and better gravy and filling and leftovers and are easier and more fool-proof to cook.
                                      I think a twelve pound turkey is the hardest to cook and get the dark meat cooked without drying out the white meat. I have to fuss with it a lot more.
                                      I have a huge bowl that I only use to make turkey stuffing. I stuff right before the bird goes into the oven. All I use is bread cubes, spices, celery. onions and lots and lots of butter. I do let the stuffing come to room temperature before I stuff but I think it helps that I don't use any protein or turkey stock in the gravy.
                                      Been doing this for years and years with no problems at all. Let us know how it turns out. Betcha once you go big you'll never go back. I wish I could have gotten a larger turkey this year than 26 pounds but the three of us will just have to make do. :)

                                      1. re: givemecarbs
                                        onceadaylily RE: givemecarbs Nov 21, 2010 01:40 PM

                                        "I wish I could have gotten a larger turkey this year than 26 pounds but the three of us will just have to make do. :)"

                                        This made me laugh. I just got back from the store with a twenty-seven pounder (for the two of us), which was the largest they had, and I was a little disappointed. I was aiming for at least thirty.

                                        1. re: onceadaylily
                                          g
                                          givemecarbs RE: onceadaylily Nov 21, 2010 07:34 PM

                                          Nice! You are a kindred spirit onceadaylily! I used to work with a lovely lady who thought a turkey was way overkill for four people and preferred a nice seven pound roaster chicken.
                                          My favorite meal is dinner the day after thanksgiving. All the yummy food and zero work. So relaxing.

                                          1. re: givemecarbs
                                            onceadaylily RE: givemecarbs Nov 22, 2010 09:03 AM

                                            Those couple pounds of bird we lost out on mean the culling of a dish in the week after. Is it going to be a soup? The terazzini? A pot pie? Because it's sure as heck not going to mean even *one* less sandwich.

                                          2. re: onceadaylily
                                            j
                                            joonjoon RE: onceadaylily Nov 23, 2010 09:03 AM

                                            Hah! I love your attitude lily. I just bought 2 20 lb turkeys for...zero people just because the price was ridiculous. And I'm wishing I had bought more!

                                            1. re: joonjoon
                                              onceadaylily RE: joonjoon Nov 23, 2010 03:22 PM

                                              I'm jealous. My freezer is small, and has *no* rails on the compartments inside the door, so everything has to go directly into the cavity (my landlord does not see why this is a problem). I monitor ice usage, and have vetoed popsicles altogether.

                                              I have twice tried to talk the boyfriend into a freezer to keep in the 'office' he never uses. Goodwill can always use another loveseat. Oh, the meat I would buy right now, if I could.

                                              1. re: onceadaylily
                                                j
                                                joonjoon RE: onceadaylily Nov 24, 2010 12:37 AM

                                                My mom bought me a decent sized chest freezer for my birthday...you have no idea what you're missing! :D There's always so much meat. Mmm meat.

                                      2. Caroline1 RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 08:14 AM

                                        In today's world, the problem is more often "will it fit" than anything else. As I just said in another Thanksgiving thread, I'm not much on brining, dry or wet. You may want to consider Frenching or spatchcocking the bird simply because it reduces roasting time. If you're unfamiliar with either process, below is a link to my post with photos explaining how to French split a bird and the entire thread discusses spatchcocking to speed up the cooking of a turkey from last Thanksgiving. Have fun!
                                        http://tinyurl.com/2g5gpn6

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                          t
                                          Tatania RE: Caroline1 Nov 21, 2010 08:55 AM

                                          Luckily, it will fit, since there's no negotiating -- on pain of pitchforks and torches-- is the full-framed presentation. Kind of sweet, really.

                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                            blue room RE: Caroline1 Nov 21, 2010 08:58 AM

                                            Yes, it would be easier to ensure moist white meat (which is all I care about!) if you somehow break it down, flatten it out. The presentation could still be every bit as ooh-ahh worthy if you're careful with the cutting and maybe garnish/surround the bird with flair.

                                            1. re: Caroline1
                                              s
                                              seagulls1 RE: Caroline1 Nov 21, 2010 09:05 AM

                                              We don't brine anymore, besides what would use, yourbathtub? Lol
                                              I would go low and slow, tented, breast side down for sure and most of the legs and wings wrapped. I really like the idea of 2 thermomiters. Definetly no stuffing. Maybe just some orange and apples onion and celery to add some flavor and moisture , nothing packed tight to add cooking time. Lots of quick basting but use a rack so it doesn't lay in too much liquid and steam/boil. If you plan on presenting it and carving at the table ...do you have a platter that big and a chain saw? Lol...you'll have to flip and blast it to brown it..be carefull. Good luck

                                              1. re: seagulls1
                                                ZenSojourner RE: seagulls1 Nov 21, 2010 09:35 AM

                                                I always cooked it breast up, just basted frequently with plenty of butter and pan drippings and tented with foil.

                                                It always worked OK. Never burned or came out too dry.

                                                Always stuffed it. It's true it added cooking time but we felt it was worth it.

                                            2. a
                                              awm922 RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 09:11 AM

                                              I worked for Butterball Turkeys for years. Maybe I can help. If the bird is frozen, the breast meat is injected with enough "butter" that you don't need to brine or even baste the bird. If it is fresh, no matter how much you brine, you should still need to baste the bird. I use a half and half mix of white wine and chicken broth. Cook the bird breast side up. You should not stuff the bird with bread or meat stuffing as it will add a lot of time to your cook time. Let alone you'll be adding at least another 5 lbs to the bird. I have been using cut fresh lemons and fresh Rosemary springs in the cavity. It adds flavor to your bird, keeps the inside moist and adds to the flavor of your gravy. I use a Polder digital thermometer that has the probe that goes into the thickest part of the thigh and the thermometer part just sits outside the oven. Make sure you place a turkey lifter under the turkey before cooking. Otherwise, you can take butchers string, make a larger loop, twist it then place it under the bird before you place it in the pan. Then pick up the ends of the loop after the bird is done and you should be able to lift the bird right out of the pan. Seek help with this heavy a bird or you throw out a disc. Definitely tent the bird with foil once it gets as brown as you like. Let it rest for at least 20 min or the juice will run right out of the breast meat and will dry out in minutes. Hope this helps. Good Luck.

                                              1. greygarious RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 10:34 AM

                                                I am doing the very-slow roast method this year: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/a...

                                                It sounds ideal for a very large bird, since it purports to ensure moist meat throughout. The only problem is that it ties up the oven for an entire day so you have to do your baking either Tuesday or while your giant roasted bird rests and you are making gravy.

                                                I am doing a 10# breast. Since this recipe calls for roasting breast-side down, I will mound stuffing atop it. When the breast and stuffing reach 165, I will remove the stuffing, turn the oven to 500, flip the breast skin-side up, and return it to the oven until the skin browns.

                                                18 Replies
                                                1. re: greygarious
                                                  t
                                                  Tatania RE: greygarious Nov 21, 2010 11:11 AM

                                                  Or - how interesting - I wonder about cooking *on top* of a mound of dressing, hence saving oven space and capturing all drippings.

                                                  1. re: Tatania
                                                    greygarious RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 11:47 AM

                                                    I have done that with turkey and chicken breast before, putting the stuffing in a bowl or making a foil nest for it, so I can still use a rack to elevate the meat. But this recipe would have you cook a whole turkey breast-side down the whole time, so gravity continually bastes the breast. I will cover the stuffing with foil for most of the oven time, and periodically add broth to it. In theory, the flavors will seep down into the meat.

                                                    The recipe I linked to does not mention the size of the bird, although the photo appears to be at least a 16-pounder. I am guessing that my 10# breast came from a bird at least that large.

                                                    1. re: greygarious
                                                      ZenSojourner RE: greygarious Nov 21, 2010 05:19 PM

                                                      "at least a 16 pounder" - my gawd, that barely deserves to be called a bird!

                                                      I know, I know, families are smaller these days. But a bird much under 23 pounds just seems too small to waste time on, LOL!

                                                  2. re: greygarious
                                                    ZenSojourner RE: greygarious Nov 22, 2010 08:31 AM

                                                    I've been wracking my brains, because it's been so long since I last did a turkey - I'm pretty sure the cooking temps out of the cookbooks I was using (published in the 30's through the 50's) called for a range of cooking temps. I would select cooking temp based on how much of a hurry I was in (and with 30 + pound birds, that was kind of a lot of a hurry, LOL!)

                                                    I remember getting up at 3 in the morning on the Day of the Bird (whether that was Tgiving or Xmas, we often had both a turkey AND a ham for Xmas) to stuff the bird and get it in the oven, and hope it would be done somewhere between 3 PM and 7PM that day. So that's like 10 or 12 hours cooking time for a bird right in the area of 30 lbs.

                                                    But some of the high temps I've seen recommended for cooking bird - I saw one earlier today that wanted you to set the oven temp at 450 F!!! - just seem too darn hot to me. It seems like they're trying to flash-roast or something.

                                                    I just went and checked the USDA site where they have the cooking time chart - and they are recommending 12.5 minutes per pound STUFFED. I am POSITIVE that my cookbooks recommended 20 to 30 minutes per pound, depending on the oven temp. So I MUST have been cooking at the lower than the USDA's current recommendation of 325F oven temp.

                                                    ANd btw, for a 20 to 24 lb bird (the USDA charts don't go any higher than that!) it only adds a total of 15 minutes to the estimated cooking time if the bird is stuffed.

                                                    THAT doesn't make any sense at all! Even a dinky little 24 lb bird is going to take longer than an extra 15 minutes if it's fully stuffed compared to if it's not.

                                                    This recommendation is great too:

                                                    From http://www.grassfedrecipes.com/turkey...

                                                    Suggested Turkey Cook Times

                                                    Turkey cook times according to weight:
                                                    7-10 pounds @ 300° F for 30 minutes per pound
                                                    10-15 pounds @ 300° F for 20 minutes per pound
                                                    15-18 pounds @ 300° F for 18 minutes per pound
                                                    18-20 pounds @ 300° F for 15 minutes per pound
                                                    20-25 pounds @ 300° F for 13 minutes per pound

                                                    So according to the chart above, a 20 pound bird will actually be done when cooked at 300F BEFORE a 10 pound bird. 4 hours and 20 minutes for the 20 pounder, and 5 hours for the bird that weighs in at half as much, 10 lbs.

                                                    O.O

                                                    But this has got to be my absolute favorite for turkey recommendations:

                                                    http://www.citizen-times.com/article/...

                                                    "for 14 people, a 20 lb bird"

                                                    20 pound turkey for fourteen people! Are they nuts? Where's the turkey for the turkey-barley soup? For Turkey pot pies? For Turkey croquettes? For a weeks worth of turkey sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner? If you get a 20 lb bird and expect to feed 14 people with it, there are going to be a lot of people who get dark meat when they wanted white, or white meat when they wanted dark. They're going to be reduced to having to gnaw the meat off a neck or hope for a bit of giblet in the gravy! They'll be fighting over the fat pad otherwise known as the tail! They're going to be lined up at the table with their pitiful little expressions and plates held out hopefully, saying, "Please, sir, may I have some more?"

                                                    20 lb bird for 14 people! Well I never!

                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner
                                                      JasmineG RE: ZenSojourner Nov 22, 2010 08:56 AM

                                                      Then you'd be horrified at my 13 pound turkey for 11 people. We're also having a 7.5 pound ham, but the idea of these enormous turkeys for small groups of people stun me.

                                                      1. re: JasmineG
                                                        greygarious RE: JasmineG Nov 22, 2010 11:08 AM

                                                        I agree with you. A pound of turkey per person, according to Julia Child, is plenty, and will provide a modicum of leftovers. Still, it's always tempting to go overboard, since it's not much difference in prep and clean-up time.

                                                        1. re: JasmineG
                                                          ZenSojourner RE: JasmineG Nov 22, 2010 02:42 PM

                                                          Not enough! For Xmas it was at least a 25 lb bird and a 20 lb ham.

                                                          MUST HAVE LEFTOVERS GALORE! It takes the same amount of time too prepare and the bigger bird is more economical in terms of meat to bone ratio.

                                                          I don't care WHAT Julia Child says. A pound of turkey per person is not enough!

                                                          And I don't even LIKE turkey.

                                                          It's not like we were throwing away leftovers. Carcass went to make stock. Leftovers got turned into many many things (and frozen) for future dinners. People (other than me) actually LIKED having turkey sandwiches galore for a week afterwards.

                                                          Tgiving is not just about cooking for the day. It's about cooking for the FUTURE, too! LOL!

                                                        2. re: ZenSojourner
                                                          Caroline1 RE: ZenSojourner Nov 22, 2010 09:40 PM

                                                          A CRITICAL factor in cooking a turkey, or anything else, if you have a fairly new oven, even if it doesn't have convection and a lot of bells and whistles, is to check your owner's manual (that came with the oven) for recommended cooking times. The standard for thirty or forty years ago was 15 minutes per pound in a preheated 325F oven, but with today's ovens there is no "one size fits all." For example, I cook a 25 pound stuffed turkey in my Trivection oven is just a tad over two hours. A convection oven will take more time but not as much as a standard oven. So if you have an owner's manual, check there!

                                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                                            ZenSojourner RE: Caroline1 Nov 22, 2010 11:40 PM

                                                            Testing the oven temp with an oven thermometer and using a meat thermometer to tell when it's actually done is sufficient unto the day.

                                                            I wouldn't trust most manufacturers to tell me how to cook anything given that most of the time the ovens they manufacture don't even heat reliably to what you set

                                                            It's the standard for 60 or 70 years ago I'm trying to remember! I'm POSITIVE it was much lower temps than they recommend today.

                                                            1. re: ZenSojourner
                                                              t
                                                              Tatania RE: ZenSojourner Nov 23, 2010 03:17 AM

                                                              Definitely, ZS. My mother's recipe was for something south of 300.

                                                              1. re: Tatania
                                                                ZenSojourner RE: Tatania Nov 23, 2010 05:18 AM

                                                                The more I think about it, the more certain I am that something like 300F was the HIGHEST temp recommended for cooking bird. But then 275 F sticks in my mind with some significance I can't quite grasp. I wish I could get hold of one of those old cookbooks!

                                                                Another thing that has me laughing and wondering if anybody really knows how to cook bird - reccomendations for how long to let the bird "rest" after it's done roasting.

                                                                They range from 5 to 30 minutes to allow the bird to "rest" before carving.

                                                                Between making gravy and pulling the stuffing out and and baking the rolls and getting everything else in serving dishes and out on the table - who is done with all that in under 30 minutes? And how about a little "rest" for the cook? Honestly I suspect "resting" time may depend at least partially on the size of the bird, too. A 12 lb bird is going to cool down a lot faster than a 30 lb bird.

                                                                LOL!

                                                                1. re: ZenSojourner
                                                                  greygarious RE: ZenSojourner Nov 23, 2010 03:37 PM

                                                                  I got out my mother's cookbooks. Meta Given's The Modern Family Cookbook, a 1961 edition of the volume first published in 1942, says to roast smaller turkeys at 325, large ones at 300. The 1947 Better Homes and Gardens says, rather unhelpfully, 250-325; the list of cooking times per pound depending on size of bird does not indicate the oven temp on which it is based.

                                                              2. re: ZenSojourner
                                                                Caroline1 RE: ZenSojourner Nov 23, 2010 08:52 AM

                                                                Testing the oven temp with an oven thermometer and using a meat thermometer to tell when it's actually done is sufficient unto the day.......ZenSojourner
                                                                ..............................................................................................

                                                                Sorry you didn't read my post all the way through or understand what I was saying, so for your benefit let me try again. In MANY cases, an oven thermometer and a meat thermometer are absolutely NOT sufficient, and here is why. Most meat thermometers people use today are instant read, which means opening the oven and loosing all the heat to get a reading. NOT useful! Many people today use convection to roast their Thanksgiving turkey. It gives a wonderfully crispy skin and moist interior. An oven thermometer is useless with convection because most (all?) convection ovens ask what temperature and how much time you would use for a NORMAL oven, then reduce the temperature and time automatically using it's internal computer. I happen to roast my turkeys in a Trivection oven, which means my oven uses standard heat (inside the oven), convection heat (forced hot air that is heated outside my oven), and microwave all at the same time, which means I have to use glass roasting pans. The norm for a standard oven would require 6 hours and fifteen minutes to roast an unstuffed 25 pound bird at 325 the whole time. Trivection ovens such as mine will cook the same bird in 3 hours and 5 minutes, and an oven thermometer is USELESS...!

                                                                I repeat: IF anyone has an owner's manual that came with your oven, check it first. I have always found mine to be very reliable.

                                                                As for long ago cooking times, the mid-20th century standard was to cook at one temperature the whole roasting duration at 375F for 15 minutes per pound, but check at least twenty minutes prior to estimated finish time for doneness.

                                                                1. re: Caroline1
                                                                  JasmineG RE: Caroline1 Nov 23, 2010 09:10 AM

                                                                  Caroline, I totally disagree -- I wouldn't trust an oven manufacturer to tell me how to cook the turkey, especially since a lot of oven temperatures are off from what they say. A lot of meat thermometers are the digital kind that have a reading outside the oven (that's the kind that I use), and test the internal temp of the meat as well as the temp of the oven. Those are much more reliable than anything else; I don't go by time, I go by the temperature of the meat.

                                                                  1. re: JasmineG
                                                                    ZenSojourner RE: JasmineG Nov 23, 2010 10:28 AM

                                                                    Even back in the day, the time to cook was an estimate. Measuring your actual oven temp allowed you to adjust the temperature of the oven to the temperature you actually wanted, and then using the meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat showed you when the bird was actually done.

                                                                    No cookbook I had back then suggested roasting bird at a temp of 375. 275 F would probably have been within the range of suggested temperatures.

                                                                  2. re: Caroline1
                                                                    ZenSojourner RE: Caroline1 Nov 23, 2010 10:24 AM

                                                                    Actually, Caroline, I did read your entire post and I did understand it.

                                                                    I just happen to think you're wrong.

                                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner
                                                                      Caroline1 RE: ZenSojourner Nov 24, 2010 03:57 AM

                                                                      You know, if there's one thing I've learned in life it is that there always *IS* more than one way to accomplish the same goal. Now, as for your magic oven and meat thermometer method, I can tell you from first hand experience when I was a young cook that it is, at best, UNRELIABLE! Notice I'm not telling you you're wrong? I'm just telling everyone else that your espoused method is UNRELIABLE!

                                                                      The ONLY reliable method to check ANY roasted-whole poultry for doneness is to move the leg to check whether the hip is moving freely (it should) then pierce both breast and upper thigh near the hip to check whether the juices are running clear. If the joint doesn't move easily and/or the juices run pink, the bird needs more time. This is the only method that works with any oven temperature or any type (thermal, convection, Trivection, whatever) of oven. Period.

                                                                      As for your remarks above about how silly it is to tell people a roasted turkey needs rest time, it's not silly simply because whether you've ever done it or not, it is not difficult to time your dishes individually so that everything is done at the same time. That works great with some meals and not with others. The instructions are offered to help cooks who may not be well experienced with turkeys understand how best to coordinate their individual cooking times. What works for you may not work for others.

                                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                                        m
                                                                        magiesmom RE: Caroline1 Nov 25, 2010 04:27 AM

                                                                        If there is more than one way to accomplish same goal why then tell us the ONLY relaible method ?

                                                          2. j
                                                            johnpm RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 11:17 AM

                                                            I've never cooked a Turzilla like yours, but here's how we solved the stuffing problems:

                                                            Pre-cook the stuffing, but not completely. Then load it in while it's still steaming hot ( We use large spoons to do this). With a 14-18 lb turkey, this actually shortens the cooking time re an un-stuffed bird. For instance, a 14 lb bird done this way at 325 with foil for all but the last hour is finished in just under 4 hours, and the breast reaches 160 at the same time the stuffing gets back to 160 and the thighs are 175. Same perfect result at 18 lbs and a little under 5 hours.

                                                            1. j
                                                              James Cristinian RE: Tatania Nov 21, 2010 11:54 AM

                                                              Can I have all the skin?

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: James Cristinian
                                                                t
                                                                Tatania RE: James Cristinian Nov 21, 2010 01:46 PM

                                                                No! It's mine, mine!

                                                                1. re: James Cristinian
                                                                  boyzoma RE: James Cristinian Nov 21, 2010 01:49 PM

                                                                  No - you have to share with me! I absolutely love the skin!

                                                                2. Naguere RE: Tatania Nov 22, 2010 05:04 AM

                                                                  Could you make a turkey crown for the grand event,

                                                                  then curry the rest?

                                                                   
                                                                  1. m
                                                                    mimolette RE: Tatania Nov 22, 2010 04:52 PM

                                                                    Is the cavity big enough to stick your head in to take a really good, close look? Actually you could stuff it with a smaller turkey perhaps, and a cornish hen inside the smaller turkey.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: mimolette
                                                                      paulj RE: mimolette Nov 22, 2010 05:18 PM

                                                                      Make a turturduken!

                                                                    2. sunshine842 RE: Tatania Nov 22, 2010 10:19 PM

                                                                      a few years ago, my SIL ordered a 25-pounder, and the farm delivered a 34-pounder (hope you don't mind...!) they charged her extra, and gave her a discount for taking the monster off their hands.

                                                                      She brined it in the laundry tub (scrubbed it out with bleach, rinsed it well, then iced the brine) but I don't remember for how long.

                                                                      My BIL Frankensteined a couple of foil roasting pans together (with heating duct tape, then double-wrapped with heavy-duty foil to eliminate any contact with the adhesives) and we put it on the spare oven rack for support. We both had a pair of oven mitts, so between us we could get the rack into the lowest support in the oven.

                                                                      Took two of us to take it out of the oven - we decided to roast it breast up for the duration, as neither of us was in the mood to wrestle a 34-pound smokin-hot bird in a tiny kitchen with two small dogs underfoot. So we basted, basted, basted. Don't ask me cooking time - don't remember that, either.

                                                                      I think we let it rest for nearly an hour, then carved. We were all surprised -- moist, tender, and absolutely delicious.

                                                                      (But no one is volunteering to tackle a bird that big again)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                                                        t
                                                                        Tatania RE: sunshine842 Nov 23, 2010 03:23 AM

                                                                        That's pretty much exactly our plan (minus the dogs) as developed with all you-folks' kind advice.

                                                                      2. j
                                                                        joonjoon RE: Tatania Nov 23, 2010 08:54 AM

                                                                        I would chop it into pieces and cook everything separately. Breast, legs, wings, etc. Brining is up to you - if you have something that can accomodate a bird that size, why not?

                                                                        1. z
                                                                          Zusie RE: Tatania Nov 23, 2010 12:20 PM

                                                                          I'm hoping that you'll tell us how it turns out after the day. Hopefully with pictures with someone wielding one of those drumsticks!

                                                                          1. s
                                                                            sarrafk1 RE: Tatania Nov 23, 2010 05:22 PM

                                                                            Hahahahaha -- you're gonna be FINE. I did this last year (35 lbs) and have ordered the same for this year. Get a Ziplock XXL storage bag, fill it with your wet brine, put the whole darn thing (ziplocked) into a big cooler, dump a couple pounds of ice over top of it and let it brine overnight. I think I let mine soak about 15 hours or so last year. I honestly can't remember how long it took to cook. It was perfect and SO much fun for the family to ooh and aaah over. No worries and Happy Thanksgiving!

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: sarrafk1
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                                                                              sarrafk1 RE: sarrafk1 Nov 23, 2010 05:28 PM

                                                                              Oh, here's the ButterBall site I go to every year for cooking time (approx) Looks like it'll be 6+ hours.

                                                                              http://www.butterball.com/tips-how-to...

                                                                              Good Luck!!

                                                                              1. re: sarrafk1
                                                                                m
                                                                                monimo RE: sarrafk1 Nov 24, 2010 06:07 AM

                                                                                If 6 hour cooking time does not appeal, you could try the Julia and Jacques method. It involves detaching and stuffing the leg/thighs, and removing the carcass from the breast part. It's a lot more work up front, but it cuts the cooking time in half. Since the carcass is removed, it adds to fodder for the stock and gravy. Plus, who doesn't love a butchering lesson taught by Jacques Pepin.

                                                                                While I know you said butchering was not a part of the plan, I think their method is so elegant I couldn't help but suggest it. The legs, after roasting, get arranged back on the platter and the breast is cooked, sans carcass, on a mound of stuffing (not dressing! and not bacteria-laden! and crunchy!). The end result is an elegantly stuffed turkey that should cook in about 3 hours and looks just like a whole turkey, Norman Rockwell style.

                                                                                part one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Afdh_i...
                                                                                part two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDHiS5...

                                                                                It's always better with two! LOVE Julia and Jacques and it makes me sad that only 300 people have watched this on Youtube before the big day. Since the boyfriend and I will Macy's parade volunteers this year, we're doing a truncated turkey-- a breast roulade and stuffed leg/thighs. Plus since I'm in my 20's and in Manhattan, Thanksgiving is generally a cocktail party for us no matter how hard we try to make an honest meal out of it. We host all of the city "orphans" with no family, and it's a potluck if "pot" means "bottle of alcohol."

                                                                                1. re: monimo
                                                                                  Caroline1 RE: monimo Nov 24, 2010 06:48 AM

                                                                                  And a holly jolly Thanksgiving to you! Wave at us all. At least I'll be watching the parade and I suspect I'm not alone. What fun and special memories you're building to enjoy when you're my age...! Happy Thanksgiving!! '-)

                                                                            2. d
                                                                              Duquesne RE: Tatania Nov 24, 2010 11:31 AM

                                                                              I wept when I read your post. My local church gave me a 7 lb. turkey for Thanksgiving. I did not know they were that small. When I had money, I bought the biggest turkey I could find. Now that I am broke, I am thankful that at least somebody will be roasting the big roasted bird. When you sit down to dinner, take a moment to look for me at your window, looking in and loving it. Good luck and God bless.

                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Duquesne
                                                                                Caroline1 RE: Duquesne Nov 24, 2010 11:52 AM

                                                                                Welcome to Chowhound, and hope you stick around! Happy Thanksgiving, and good luck cooking a turkey that small. I'm living single too, so I did a 13 pounder and never again (had my Thanksgiving main meal today so I could share it with my housekeeper and then she can have tomorrow with her family). From now on, I may end up eating frozen turkey in July, but it will be juicy and right!

                                                                                1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                  sunshine842 RE: Caroline1 Nov 24, 2010 12:00 PM

                                                                                  Um, Caroline, I don't think the size of the turkey was really the point at all.

                                                                                  Duquesne, have a wonderful Thanksgiving...and I hope beyond hope that you have someone to share your turkey with, and that things look better for you SOON. Keep hope. There will be a space for you at the table in my thoughts.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                    d
                                                                                    Duquesne RE: sunshine842 Nov 24, 2010 12:34 PM

                                                                                    Thank you, Sunshine. And you too, Caroline. I am hoping I don't cook the life out of this little turkey. It looks like a big chicken, so I won't be cooking it for hours. I did brine it and I hope this wasn't a mistake. I don't envy cooking a 35+ lb. turkey, but I wouldn't mind the wonderful leftovers, which are my favorite.

                                                                                    1. re: Duquesne
                                                                                      sunshine842 RE: Duquesne Nov 24, 2010 01:21 PM

                                                                                      Not cooking it for hours is a good point in my book!

                                                                                      I'm sure it will be fantastic.

                                                                                      1. re: Duquesne
                                                                                        w
                                                                                        walker RE: Duquesne Nov 24, 2010 07:34 PM

                                                                                        I always try to buy a turkey under 14 lbs so I'm sure I'm getting a hen -- I think they are more tender, not stringy. I've never seen a 7 lb one, either -- it'll probably be wonderful.

                                                                                        I've been trying to do things ahead of time today -- did the stuffing (took hours, too much chopping, made stock for make ahead gravy and now I'm too tired to make a pie and tomorrow turkey goes in -- only one oven so I'm sad my guests won't get dessert.) I just can't seem to get it all done. (My daughter is making creamed onions, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts.)

                                                                                        1. re: walker
                                                                                          onceadaylily RE: walker Nov 24, 2010 07:55 PM

                                                                                          I've not made dessert yet either, but I plan to have the pie prepped just before I serve, so that I can bake it while we eat.

                                                                                        2. re: Duquesne
                                                                                          onceadaylily RE: Duquesne Nov 24, 2010 07:51 PM

                                                                                          I've seen turkeys that size. One year my mother decided she would make everyone their 'own' turkey, and bought the smallest she could find, for all five of us. We were all thrilled, I think. While you are eating, know that my seven year old self is looking at your plate, thinking about how she would be happy to have the whole bird to herself, picking at it as she chooses. I think it will be lovely brined.

                                                                                          I wish you the best.

                                                                                          1. re: onceadaylily
                                                                                            Caroline1 RE: onceadaylily Nov 25, 2010 02:35 AM

                                                                                            Rock Cornish Gobbler? You (or your mom) may be onto something!

                                                                                        3. re: sunshine842
                                                                                          Caroline1 RE: sunshine842 Nov 24, 2010 01:53 PM

                                                                                          Neither did I. :-)

                                                                                      2. re: Duquesne
                                                                                        t
                                                                                        Tatania RE: Duquesne Nov 26, 2010 11:11 AM

                                                                                        Duquesne, thank you, and God bless you, too.

                                                                                      3. t
                                                                                        Tatania RE: Tatania Nov 26, 2010 11:23 AM

                                                                                        Well, it all worked out -- thank you to everyone for such good advice and good wishes. And thank you especially to Duquesne for reminding me what a privilege it is to figure out what to do about plenty. I wish you well and hope the best for you.

                                                                                        In the end, an unexpected visit to the hospital on the part of a close relative forced some simplification, and that was just fine. The most important thing was his being able to join us! In the end, there was no brining at all. Very little basting, very little fussing. Just cooked the thing at 350 on the convection setting for about 4.5 hours, and it was terrific. Whoever said a large bird is forgiving was entirely correct. No overcooking of the breast, no undercooking of the dark meat. The only flaw was that the skin, while lovely, was leathery. Couldn't really be bitten through, but it made for some good chewing. A pleasure to have many leftovers to send home with everyone. Thanks, all, for your input!

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