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Jan 24, 2011 04:11 AM

Turkey Trouble: Uneven Convection Roasting

Yesterday we had "Thanksgiving" dinner, just for fun. I had a lovely (expensive!) pasture-raised turkey that I brined overnight and, after much deliberation about how to set the oven, roasted it on the "convection roast" setting which I hadn't used yet. I put the rack at the bottom of the oven, like the manual said, and the turkey turned all delicious-looking and golden as it cooked.

Halfway through, I had to add a casserole to the oven. I put the two dishes side-by-side in the oven. At 2 hours, my turkey thigh read 170 degrees so I took it out and it rested for an hour. So far, so good. Well, I go to cut into it and the breast looks good but once I get to the bottom of the breast, pink juices come running out! How could it have cooked so unevenly? I thought the fan in the oven was supposed to distribute the heat more evenly. Should I have put the rack up higher? Was it a mistake to put another dish in next to the turkey, blocking the air flow?

Any advice to avoid embarrassment at my next psuedo-Thanksgiving dinner party? At least the sweet potato and greens gratin was a hit!

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  1. That's a huge oven if you could fit them side by side!

    I'm guessing that it was the casserole that caused the uneven cooking. Particularly putting something in and cooking them side by side, thater than up and down.

    I dont know how long the casserole needed to cook, but if the turkey rested for an hour, then you probably had enough time to cook the casserole after the turkey came out.

    I would roast the bird by itself next time and test both the breast and the thigh with the thermometer.

    I would also not put the rack so low, literally at the bottom.

    1. You do not mention the the thermostat setting you used to roast the Turkey....you also do not mention if you removed the bird from your refrigerator any amount of time before placing into the oven. Higher roasting temperatures cook the outermost part of the roasts quickly, and the interior much less evenly. This is why I prefer the low and slow method overall, and a thermostat setting never exceeding 275* for Turkey.

      Personally, I do not think putting the casserole dish had any effect in blocking the air flow....the convection feature worked properly, as evidence by your golden result you described.

      1. I didn't intend for the turkey to sit for an hour - it's difficult to time everything, especially when using a new oven.

        The oven was set to 350 which drops down to 325 on convection. The turkey had been taken out of the cooler/brine probably an hour before I put it in the oven.

        Seems like I should practice with some roast chicken on a higher rack and at a lower temperature. A convection oven can't be THAT difficult to master. Thanks for the tips!

        2 Replies
        1. re: buckeye.mary

          Not sure if I can resurrect this thread, but a similar thing happened to me this Thanksgiving. I roasted the turkey at 325 degrees convection setting, turkey was taken out of cooler about 30 min before placing in oven, NOTHING else was in oven while turkey cooked, removed turkey when thermometer in thigh read 170 and in breast even higher (thinking: oops!), and then as I carved it, only ONE side of the bird at the deepest thigh and breast meat (near the hip joint) was raw!

          Buckeye.mary, have you been able to solve the uneven cooking problem?

          1. re: swensosk

            This Thanksgiving I roasted our 15 lb. turkey at 325 degrees but not on the convection setting. (I had forgotten that's how I tried it last time!) Even though the thigh temp read 170 and the meat we carved up for dinner was delicious, when we went to dismantle the rest of the bird, the bottom meat was pink. It wasn't nearly as bad as when I convection roasted my last turkey. My hypothesis: Once again, towards the end of the cooking time, I had a casserole on the rack under the turkey which blocked some heat to the bird. Also, next time, I'll take it out of the brining cooler way earlier to come to room temp. It was so cold in the cooler that a hunk of ice in the brine didn't even melt, sticking to the turkey.

            swensock - Maybe taking the turkey out of the cooler earlier would help and also, since only one side of the turkey was underdone, you have to rotate it halfway through roasting?

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