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Wine in the turkey roasting bag

f
Florida Hound Jun 30, 2012 09:21 PM

We make a roast turkey a few times a year other than Thanksgiving, and use the Reynolds roasting bag with great (and delicious) success. Our secret ingredient is adding some Loupiac wine to the cooking bag. Seeking alternative wine choices or alternative wine baste-&-turkey ideas, to see if we can make a good thing even better. Many thanks.

  1. RhonelyInsanediego Nov 1, 2012 12:37 PM

    From my experience and point of view as a R&D chemist and avid cook, alcohol isn't really a good thing to use, especially when trying to keep meat moist. The alcohol will actaully form an azeotrope with any moisture present. This can lead to several unintended consequences such as drying things out. Firstly, because the azeotropic properties of alcohol actually lower the boiling point of any H2O, it thereby facilitates any moisture to evaporate more quickly and easily, thus drying the meat out. In a completely sealed environment it's probably not as big a deal. That is until you open things up and then drying out evaporation will take place more quickly than normal. It is for these reasons that when I am cooking with alcohol (depending on the technique) and I want to keep my protein moist, I will first bring the wine to temp in a separate pan to evaporate the majority of alcohol, before adding to my marinades, or in the bottom of my roasting pan etc.. That way you get all the flavor without the risk of drying things out.

    10 Replies
    1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
      maria lorraine Nov 2, 2012 02:57 AM

      Do you really think a small amount of wine is going to dry out a 22-pound bird with lots of fat and juices running from being cooked in a bag?

      1. re: maria lorraine
        RhonelyInsanediego Nov 2, 2012 07:32 AM

        Probably not much, but while you're letting it rest, perhaps a bit. A moist breast and meat is always the goal and if you can do things better towards achieving that goal, then why not? Always best IMO to get rid of most of the alcohol prior to adding the wine. Of course if it's submerged in wine and juice, then of course it doesn't matter. So in the case of crock pot cooking, coq au vin, osso bucco, braised anything etc., it probably doesn't matter. The point I was trying to make is that alcohol actually has a real (scientifically verifiable) drying out effect that can be avoided by evaporating off most of the alcohol first.

        1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
          maria lorraine Nov 2, 2012 11:52 AM

          I was just trying to offer some common sense. Azeotropes won't dry out anything in the vast majority of instances in which wine is used in cooking.

          1. re: maria lorraine
            RhonelyInsanediego Nov 2, 2012 12:26 PM

            Thanks Maria,

            No worries, I was doing the same and offering my advice as a PhD chemist and former chef, in that alcohol tends to dry things out. It's a fact. If you take an extra minute to pre-heat your wine, then you have the best conditions for creating a moist turkey, etc.. It can't hurt and can only help the final product. This is especially true if you use an injection liquid for your meat and use wine in your liquid. In this case I always, always remove as much alcohol as possible before injecting.

            Also, if you use wine in a liquid that is for steaming, alcohol will tend to dry out the exterior far more than in a steaming liquid without the alcohol.

            1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
              RhonelyInsanediego Nov 2, 2012 02:20 PM

              Don't get me wrong, I cook with wine all the time. The alcohol itself actually has some very useful properties. It is particularly good at solubilizing flavonoids (polyphenolic compounds) found in many fruits and vegetables. For this reason it is particularly useful in sauces with vegetable components. One of the reasons that many marinara recipes call for wine. It is critical in helping to solubilize those flavonoids found in tomatoes, peppers, etc. Also think vodka blush sauce etc. The alcohol really helps bring out the flavor.

              1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
                maria lorraine Nov 2, 2012 03:04 PM

                Man, this is tying knots in underwear over something inconsequential.

                Azeotropes have almost no bearing on cooking with wine.

                To be of importance, the alcohol used in cooking must be 50% ethanol (or 100 proof), but the ABV of wine is far, far below this.

                What you're proposing -- taking the extra time to reduce the wine's ABV on the stovetop because of non-existent drying given almost no azeotropic effect and the other liquids present in the roasting bag -- doesn't make common sense.

                Azeotropes aren't important in home cooking. They have a bearing in distillation and in accurately calculating the amount of ethanol that remains after cooking via various methods (boiling, simmering, baking, etc.). Azeotropic factors include volume of alcohol added, ABV, C temp of cooking method, C temp at which ethanol boils (78.4), volume of other liquids, percentage of water, C temp of water boiling (100), cooking time.

                But we're not talking about that and home cooks can check the USDA chart if they're curious.

                1. re: maria lorraine
                  RhonelyInsanediego Nov 2, 2012 03:31 PM

                  While what you is say is strictly correct regarding a true azeotrope, there is an azeotropic effect on water's boiling point (lowers it) with even small amounts of alcohol. The presence of alcohol will tend to dry out things more quickly than with no alcohol. There is no question about it. Also, there is an additional affect because of hydrogen bonding and the lower boiling point of alcohol, evaporating the alcohol tends to pull excess moisture with it. It's simple laws of chemistry and physics. Like I said before, in certain cases/techniques, it can only help to retain moisture and juiciness (scientific term) by eliminating excess alcohol. In other cases, the effect may be negligible. Regardless, it certainly will not hurt (can only help retain moisture), and only takes a couple minutes to remove excess alcohol. This is especially true where the cooking techniques tend to have the alcohol permeate the meat. But hey do as you wish, only offering some friendly advice. Not looking to start a fight.

                  1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
                    s
                    sedimental Nov 2, 2012 04:29 PM

                    " Regardless, it certainly will not hurt (can only help retain moisture), and only takes a couple minutes to remove excess alcohol".....

                    Yes, I remove excess alcohol by first pouring myself a glass.....that removes about a quarter of it from the bottle. Works like a charm ;)

        2. re: RhonelyInsanediego
          maria lorraine Nov 2, 2012 06:28 PM

          Let's be clear. Let's be practical. Let's be of service to the home cook.

          Let's apply chemistry appropriately and accurately to home cooking.

          This subthread is all about if wine will dry out a turkey in a turkey bag.

          To give home cooks a heads up, let's first say that turkeys cook in a turkey bag much more quickly than in a roasting pan. Figure at least an hour less, sometimes a couple of hours.

          The real danger of drying out a turkey in a turkey bag comes from not knowing about the shorter cooking time.

          A turkey bag steams the bird. It uses the liquid added to the bag before roasting and the juices in the turkey and other ingredients inside or around the turkey to create that steam. This cooks the bird faster than when roasting in dry air.

          When you add wine to the turkey bag, the ethanol in the wine makes the liquids inside the bag evaporate more quickly. That's what an azeotrope does. There's a small amount of ethanol in the wine and probably a small volume of wine so the difference in cooking time is negligible. It exists but it is so tiny it's of little consideration.

          So, to focus on why an azeotrope might dry out the bird (or any protein) and ignore the far bigger reasons why the bird (or other protein) might dry out is to be caught up in a thorny thicket of irrelevance.

          Let's remember the Thanksgiving cook is unbelievably busy prepping and cooking all the dishes for the table. Most of the burners on the stove are in use.

          You have suggested that the home cook spend the time (check the volume/time calculations, I have) cooking the alcohol out of the wine that will be added to the turkey bag.

          What you are proposing is unnecessary. The drying- out effect from the small amount of ethanol in the wine is negligible.

          It's also impractical on an extremely busy cooking day.

          If you're planning to use a turkey bag, tips to avoid a dry bird include brining, coating the skin with butter, putting butter under the skin, adding halved oranges or other citrus to the bird's cavity or placing them around the bird, placing the turkey on a bed of carrots and celery inside the bag, and adding extra moisture to the stuffing. The approximate cooking time will be on the turkey bag instructions but be sure to check the turkey for doneness ahead of when you think it might be ready because cooking times vary.

          1. re: maria lorraine
            f
            Florida Hound Nov 2, 2012 06:40 PM

            In any event, as the OP, I am enjoying the debate immensely! My own professional credentials within the substance abuse field probably up my interest here, but otherwise, as a Chowhound, I have been soaking all the education in. I can't wait until Thanksgiving! I appreciate the knowledge and passion you have added to this thread,

            Florida Hound

        3. ChefJune Jul 2, 2012 01:19 PM

          One year I basted the turkey with some leftover Cabernet that was sitting in the fridge. Turkey was amazing. Not sure how much the Cab actually contributed. I had rubbed the bird thoroughly under the skin and out with my signature Creole butter, as well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChefJune
            f
            Florida Hound Oct 30, 2012 04:16 PM

            Can you give some hints (or the whole signature!) for Creole butter? We're almost in Crunch-time for the big event. Thanks,
            Florida Hound

          2. Bill Hunt Jun 30, 2012 09:28 PM

            While I often have several whites with turkey, the best "wine-turkey," that I have ever had was a Zinfandel roasted turkey. However, if one is set on whites, then perhaps the Zin would not be the ideal choice. I have also not used one of the bags that you mention, so there could be other considerations, that I am just not familiar with.

            Hunt

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt
              f
              Florida Hound Jun 30, 2012 09:32 PM

              I was hoping I might get a word from you, Hunt! Thanks for your thoughts. I really do recommend the Reynolds bag to you and yours- lets see what our other cohorts recommend. Thanks again.

              1. re: Florida Hound
                Bill Hunt Jun 30, 2012 09:39 PM

                We actually use several "bags," and have found them to do some wonderful jobs. Those come from Finland, and are sold at a few local "boutique" groceries around here. We have done their hickory, and their alder (a favorite), and just picked up their oak. However, we have not done anything larger than some double-cut pork chops. I hate to admit that my wife can use those suckas' and beat my grilling (a guy thing!), but not large enough for turkey.

                We have done many turkey recipes, including Cajun Deep-Fried, but that Zinfandel turkey really sticks in my memory. it took about 6 btls. of Peachy Canyon Westside, but was outstanding. Wife did a bit of a chipolte rub on it, then it spent a day, in Zin. The actual cooking wasn't that much out of the mainstream, other than basting with the Zin, and spices, but the turkey was great. We served it with a Turley Zin, and that paired well.

                Still not sure that is what you might enjoy,

                Hunt

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