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Nov 18, 2011 10:00 AM

Do you use a rack?

When making turkey, sometimes I use a rack and other times I do not. The turkey is excellent and comes out the same either way. Do you find any advantage to using a rack in the roasting pan?

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  1. crispy skin all around with, sad soggy back without. not that turkey is all that enticing the way duck or chicken skin is.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hill food

      Ditto ... a fat soaked back on the turkey is not desirable. I use a rack.

    2. Best reason to use a rack is you should be cooking the Turkey breast side down to ensure juiciness, and if you don't use a rack the breast will boil in the collected juices.

      Turkey skin not enticing? Huh?

      10 Replies
      1. re: acgold7

        I dunno, turkey skin is just sort of tough w/o being richly chewy the way some other birds are, maybe it needs to be scrupulously basted or even barded (and besides what cooked in duck or chicken fat isn't stellar by comparison? and they do it from the inside)

        given a choice it's obvious what I'd go for.

        1. re: acgold7

          ACgold7: do you really find that roasting breast-down makes much difference? After nearly 40 years in the kitchen, I JUST bought my 1st roaster with a rack, so this will be the 1st experience using it. Willing to do breast down if it makes it jucier. Thanks.

          1. re: pine time

            I've found that baking breast side down results in a juicier bird unless you tent the bird, in which case the condensation dripping back onto the bird balance the moisture. Frankly, I cook breast side up, tented, and if necessary I remove the tent briefly to brown the skin before resting the bird.

            1. re: pine time

              I do find that it makes a big difference. Tenting, to me, just makes the skin soggy and results in a steamed bird.

              1. re: acgold7

                Thanks. I've given up on tenting, too, 'cause of steaming, so will roast the bird "upside down" this year!

                1. re: pine time

                  i never understood tenting. if it was a valuable method, restaurants would use it. and they never do. you're just trapping steam.

                  1. re: pine time

                    How long do you do the "upside down."? (Not the whole time???)

              2. re: acgold7

                I use a rack when I make a turkey but that Hazan recipe I tried for chicken cooked breast side down did not specify a rack.

                I was going to attempt breast side down on a rack with the turkey for the first hour; it's going to be about 15 lbs. I really like to stuff it with bread stuffing. (I cook more in a casserole but we all love the stuffing from inside the turkey best.) I wonder if it's going to be too hard to turn the turkey over since it's stuffed.

                1. re: walker

                  walker - copious doubled hand towels or OveGloves with an assistant and toss them (not the assistant) in the wash pile immediately so the smear doesn't spread (no contamination worry, you just don't want greasy linens laying around for the unsuspecting)

                  no more difficult stuffed or not, it's really more the size and heat than the weight.

                2. re: acgold7

                  I start the turkey at a higher temp, breast side down, then flip it and lower the temp. It always comes out good, whether I use a rack or not

                3. yes to rack and yes to breast down cooking

                  no to stuffing the bird

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: AdamD

                    Adam - if my mother didn't stuff the bird it would have zero flavor (or less than zero if that's possible) but no gastro problems for anyone yet and she's pushing 80.

                    granted it is safer to do dressing instead.

                    1. re: hill food

                      Its not about food safety, but rather about crust. I find that my stuffing gets more flavor if more surface area is exposed and browned in the oven. The bird? Well that is hit or miss each year and no matter how flavorful, how much brine or marinade, it still ends up being a vehicle for the side dishes and condiments. And sandwiches of course!

                      1. re: AdamD

                        Absolutely right. If you feel you need more Turkey flavor in the dressing, just put some of the drippings into the dressing before baking. Exactly the same as if it were inside the Bird all along. You can (and should) be sauteing the veg for the dressing/stuffing in Turkey Fat anyway.

                        If your bird requires the stuffing to get its flavor, you're not brining/ seasoning/roasting your Bird properly.

                        1. re: acgold7

                          kinda my point exactly, sadly (please wish me luck on keeping my idiot claptrap shut next week during the prep!)

                  2. Hope I'm not threadjacking -- but when using a roaster, those who roast with breastside down, do you leave it breastside down the whole time? or do you flip it over after a certain period of time?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: darrentran87

                      Flip it up a half-hour or hour before the end. I do it when the breast meat hits 125.

                      1. re: acgold7

                        What I recently tried with a large chx roaster (8 lbs) is breast down and hit the convection for about 20 minutes. That really seemed to give the thighs a jump start and also crisped the skin. I then turned it over and did a conventional roast for the remainder of the time.

                        Anyone use convection on a turkey? I'm thinking my method would work on a 20 lb turkey as well. But may need to increase the bottoms up timing to maybe 40 minutes.

                        What say you?

                        btw - it ended up being the juiciest chicken I've EVER roasted.

                        1. re: acgold7

                          Thanks for the reply. might i ask how you flip the turkey?... seems like a beast of a task lol

                      2. Some chefs call for chopping up aromatic veggies (carrots, celery, onions) and laying the fowl on (chicken, turkey) top of that. Then you get some veggie goodness in your gravy juices. Mmm.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: pdxgastro

                          I build a "rack" for our turkey using stalks of celery and whole carrots (peeled and cut half lenghwise) as well as an onion or two cut in quarters. It manages to keep the turkey away from the direct fat but also adds amazing flavour to the drippings once it is strained at the end. Always works great.

                          1. re: Aislyn

                            i do this too, with anything that drops lots of liquid while cooking. for example, i put onions under pork belly. they confit in that porky goodness and are an awesome side. i'll be using carrots, garlic and onions under the turkey. they won't be eaten but will be adding flavor to the drippings for gravy.

                            not using a rack also means one less thing to wash. :)

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              You are right! One less thing to wash is an absolute bonus! :)