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Nov 22, 2011 03:10 PM

Drippings Issue - Leah Chase's Roasted Turkey Recipe

Hi all,

This is my first post. I've been reading Chowhound posts for a long time now, and every question I've ever had has been answered. Until now :)

The past 3 Thanksgivings I have prepared my turkey using Leah Chase's recipe as found in Saveur:

I like it for it's simplicity; I've had pretty good results, but I've always had a problem with capturing the drippings. See, you use a foil envelope around the turkey to capture moisture, but invariable the bottom foil rips and I have a mess on my hands. Worse, the drippings hit the hot roasting pan and burn up. I like to add onions, celery and carrots to the foil packet, but these end up getting messy too.

Should I cover the entire roasting pan in foil, and put veggies and some liquid in bottom of pan? Would this defeat the purpose of the foil package since there would be so much extra air? I don't think this will affect cooking times, but if I'm wrong, someone let me know.

She also recommends 350 for 2.5 hour and then remove top foil and finish at 500 degrees for about 30 minutes longer. I've found that my birds (usually about 14 pounds) take longer to come to temp.

If it matters, I use the Cooks Illustrated recipe for the general base of my gravy, and add/subtract stuff as the mood hits me.

Sorry for the long post, and thanks for all the help over the years!

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  1. If the bottom foil rips it's either:
    Not a heavy duty foil capable of the task (few supermarkets carry what commercial kitchens consider "heavy duty" foil)
    The bird sticks to the lower sheet of foil and causes it to tear when the bird is lifted.
    The bird is lifted using utensils that cause tears in the foil
    (purchase an inexpensive pair of oven mitts and use those to lift the bird, then toss 'em in the wash)
    The cook attempts to lift the foil as though it were a pan inside the roasting vessel and the weight of the drippings and vegetables are too great for the strength of the foil.
    There is some form of contamination (sugars or other matter) on the pan when the foil is put in place or the foil was damaged at the start allowing liquids to leak beneath that layer causing the foil to adhere to the pan or cooking rack.
    I don''t personally agree with the high temperature finishing, I'd opt for a high temperature start, but that's a matter of opinion. You could try placing the packaged turkey on top of a very deep bed of sacrificial vegetables instead of a wire rack

    1. I think I'd put the whole thing on a half-sheet pan or similar to lift it out of the oven.

      5 Replies
      1. re: lemons

        Thanks for the replies. Todao, I think I am going to start with high heat this time.

        1. re: vespito

          Any update? We're planning on cooking our Kosher bird with this method. Thanks.

          1. re: djegg101

            Hi djegg101,

            Funny - I just checked this post yesterday to see if there were new replies. Anyway, last year I decided to not use the bottom piece of foil. I just put my bird directly on a bunch of chopped carrots, apples (I think), onions and celery and wrapped the foil over the entire pan. I also used some extra liquid in the bottom of the pan so nothing burned.

            Everything turned out fine and I didn't have to deal with ripped foil and burnt drippings. The turkey did cook a lot more quickly than the year before (it was the same size).

            I've used the Leah Chase recipe for 4 years and people loved it.

            This year, I decided to splurge and get a heritage bird so I'll probably try something different...

            1. re: vespito

              I'm surprised this produces a good result. It would seem like the bird gets steamed instead of roasted if it's enclosed in foil. Finishing with high heat would solve the soggy skin issue, but the meat would still be different than traditional roasting. No?

              1. re: CapeCodGuy

                Actually the thing that brought me to this recipe initially was the steaming notion, this seems like a simplified version of what Jacques Pepin talks about in the NYT here:

                And thanks for the reply Vespito!