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Dec 21, 2011 07:44 PM

Steaming a whole turkey

Has anyone ever steamed a whole turkey? I've got a 5 kg bird thawing in the fridge, and no proper oven, and am mulling over the best way to prepare it for Christmas.


1) Cut the turkey in half or quarters, steam to cook, and then brown them in the toaster oven for the crispy skin. I've used this method on whole duck before.

2) Cut the turkey in half lengthwise, and roast in the toaster oven one piece at a time. I've successfully roasted duck and whole chicken in there before (it's got top and bottom burners and temperature control to 250 C), but I think the half turkey might not cook evenly enough.

3) Remove the skin from the turkey, steam the skinned bird whole and carve it, and fry the skin in duck fat as a garnish (I adore crispy skin).

I'm leaning to 3 as the safest and least messy option. I've found some recipes on the web that indicate 3 1/2 - 4 hours cooking time for an unstuffed bird - does this sound reasonable?

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  1. I'm confused ... why steam it at all? Is there some reason that you don't wish to brine it and then roast it? In any case, I have never tried to steam a whole chicken, turkey, cornish hen, etc. I am curious as to how that'll turn out though ...

    4 Replies
    1. re: jkling17

      Did you read the question at all? OP doesn't have an oven.

      1. re: srr

        Ooooops .... missed that one little part. in that case change my answer to "brine it at your place then impose on the kindness of your neighbor to use their oven".

        1. re: jkling17

          None of my neighbours have ovens either, and they don't celebrate Christmas. There are some people living in the expensive ex-pat areas north of the city who have Western style ovens, but they're not really in my social circle.

          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

            Ah! I'm guessing that you are in Asia? I've done a fair bit of business over there, but mostly in Japan. Well you are still not without options, if like me you are not shy.

            If I were in your shoes I'd approach some of the restaurants that I regularly patronize and see about using their facilities, especially if your roasting time can be out of the window that they need. You may need to pay some money but it's an option. I have a close relationship with one of the local chefs here in town and I'm sure he'd help me out if I needed.

            Frying it whole is certainly an option. Any dual basket commercial fryer can easily hold a whole turkey (just remove both baskets and it is just one BIG fryer. BUT ... if the oil is already hot then it can be really dangerous to lower that turkey in - see the videos on youtube of how to do this right. I have never fried a whole turkey but some people truly love the results. Don't do this inside your house ... it's way too dangerous.

            I hope that you do find a way that works and surprise friends/family with a proper Christmas turkey! Happy holidays

    2. I don't have enough oven space either.
      I use a kettle braai instead (sorry, that's a kettle BBQ in normal speak)
      Never thought of steaming. For some reaon or another it doesn't really sound appetizing to me, but that's just me.
      With the options you have, I would probably put the thing in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, or if you don't have a big enough pot I would cut it up and make the turkey into Turkey au vin (on the stove top)

      1. Have not steamed one. My choices would be 1) smoke/slow cook whole turkey on Weber or similar kettle grill (as per Butzy) 2) deep-fry whole turkey 3) cut up into pieces and grill over charcoal/wood. Five-kilo perfect size for frying.

        1. Have you considered cutting it up and braising it? Seems if you have a pot big enough to steam a whole turkey, you could brown then braise in stock, wine, aromatics and you would have a much more flavorful bird. You could broil to crisp the skin to serve, though the idea of the skin fried to cracklings in duck fat as a final garnish sounds incredible.

          1. I vote for either browning the skin in a skillet then braising it or cooking it through in the toaster oven. If you preheat it and slow roast it (or high heat to brown it, then slow roast it), I don't think the uneven temperature will matter much.