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Thanksgiving turkey challenges - teeny tiny oven

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My oven is too small to cook a turkey and other dishes. I have made my turkey on the grill - takes forever in the Minnesota cold. I've cooked it in an electric roaster. Cooked too fast. I've cooked it in parts - too moist. I don't have the guts to fry a turkey. Has anyone ever used one of the no oil turkey fryers - essentially a very high heat, enclosed roaster? Other ideas?

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  1. In the new Bon Appetit there is a recipe by Suzanne Goin of Lucques fame for a cooking a turkey by roasting the breast and confiting the legs and thighs in order to cook each part perfectly. You might want to give that a look.

    1. What about spatchcocking it? Just cut the backbone out and flatten the turkey, then roast. It cooks faster (freeing up your oven more quickly for other things) and takes up a lot less room.

      4 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima

        I do this all the time with chicken. It is a great way to cook the bird more quickly.

        1. re: biondanonima

          I second the motion!

          1. re: biondanonima

            Thanks for the great idea. Now can I enjoy roast turkey with my humble oven.

            1. re: biondanonima

              Believe it or not, my oven is even too small for this. Or maybe my turkey is too big. A 12 pound turkey would fit, but that's not much turkey.

            2. Have you tried the Weber? I'm right next door to you and use the Weber every year. As a matter of fact, the turkey is usually done quicker than if cooked in the oven. ~15 pounder usually done in ~1.5 hrs.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Scoutmaster

                Scoutmaster, I read your post with interest. That is because I have been thinking about cooking our turkey this year on the grill, but I have not idea how to do that. Would you mind explaining exactly how you prepare the turkey, how you grill, and for how long, please.

                1. re: Wtg2Retire

                  Wtg, here is a CH thread that has complete instructions for cooking a turkey on the Weber Grill.
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/340288

                  If you are going to do this, I strongly recommend buying a Weber Grill accessory called charcoal rails. They snap onto the grill and are designed to hold the charcoal on each side of the grill and provide indirect heat which is what you need. You'll need a meat thermometer too.
                  http://www.homedepot.com/buy/weber-pa...

                  I would also recommend that you brine your turkey before cooking it.

              2. dlgoldie, when dh & I were first married our oven was small and we elected to have the local market prepare the turkey and we used our oven for sides, reheating and warming plates. For the money, time and stress sometimes that's a better option.

                Otherwise, I would consider either making just a turkey breast or cutting a whole turkey into parts.

                1 Reply
                1. re: HillJ

                  I know several people with small kitchens and tiny ovens that do this. A basic turkey is a basic turkey, after all. It allows them to concentrate on the dishes that are unique to and important to their families and traditions.

                2. I have a turkey roaster, the meat cooks quite fast in it. The only thing I do not like about it is the skin does not brown and you have to use a colorant to darken the skin. I have a small kitchen and I find the roaster is convenient. As well you can use for other purposes.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Ruthie789

                    That's my problem. It cooks too fast and is essentially steamed. Maybe I'll use my roaster to cook my sides and give my oven over to the bird.

                    1. re: Ruthie789

                      a colorant?

                      1. re: magiesmom

                        I think she means an additional food that helps with browning such as corn syrup.

                        1. re: magiesmom

                          It is called Kitchen Bouquet. It is like a liquid bronzer to put on meat and it looks brown making it look like it was roasted in oven.

                          1. re: Ruthie789

                            Yes. It is more or less just food coloring.

                            1. re: CyndiA

                              Well agree, but did say it was a colorant from the start. I do use the roaster but also put my turkey in the oven towards the end because I do not like to use the product.

                      2. "I've cooked it in parts - too moist"

                        I'm curious about this. Two things: How did you do it? and How can turkey be too moist? Most folks have the opposite problem with turkey!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sandylc

                          I was wondering the same thing--too moist?

                          1. re: sandylc

                            I used a Mark Bittman recipe in which you essentially braise the thighs and legs, then when nearly done cook a boned turkey breast on top. Braised and steamed turkey is not Thanksgiving turkey, in my opinion.

                          2. Bone it! I usually bone and then stuff the bird. It's smaller, and takes less time to roast. To serve you can cut nice slices and pour some gravy on them.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: TIRGL

                              Maybe I should try it. How do you handle the legs?

                              1. re: dlgoldie

                                There is a great Pepin video on deboning a chicken (which is obviously same technique as deboning a turkey). A friend watched it a couple of times and them deboned a whole bird easily. Here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAekQ5...

                                1. re: dlgoldie

                                  they get boned too. It's quite a process and it takes me about an hour to bone, stuff and tie. It really is the best turkey I've made. I use a small, sharp knife, and a large cleaver to hack through the large bones. Taking the sinews out of the leg muscles takes the most time. Then you arrange the meat by butterflying so it is an even layer. You are rewarded with a beautiful slice of dark and light meat with stuffing in the middle.

                              2. Our cobbled-together turkey cooking strategy involves starting the turkey in the oven, then moving it, roaster and all (I need those drippings for gravy!), to the grill so the oven is free for all the side dishes. We've had great results using the Weber as an adjunct oven. We're also in Minnesota, and I worried initially about the vagaries of weather+charcoal grill, but we've been delighted with the results. Between grill time and resting time for the turkey, we end up with plenty of time to do the oven-centric sides. The roaster on the grill has to be watched, though (thank you Mr. Cay!) so you don't burn your drippings; we build the coals to either side, and add a little liquid to the drippings if things are getting a little too hot. FWIW, the roasting pan is the good old blue speckled roaster, and the bird is usually 22ish pounds. Typically, two-thirds of the roasting time is in the oven, one-third on the grill, but this is just my rough guesstimate and it varies with weather conditions.

                                I'd love to have two ovens to make the big T-day a little easier, but this method has served us well.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: cayjohan

                                  Thank you! This might just do it. I will try this idea this year. I assume there is no time for the turkey to rest between "ovens"? Do you feel like the turkey is on the grill for at least an hour?

                                  1. re: dlgoldie

                                    No resting time between oven and grill; when I say "it's time'" the roaster is whisked out to the preheated grill and the sides go in the oven. Between the finishing time on the grill and resting time for the turkey (which I tend to rest for 30-45 minutes anyway), we have more than enough time to finish the sides. It requires coordination with a grill buddy to keep an eye on things, but we've never any problems with the strategy (knocking wood). Just make sure those coals are off to the sides of the grill - we use a disposable aluminum pan to barricade them - so you don't have all the heat from the coals under the roasting pan and risk burning your drippings. I generally keep the bird covered with foil during the grill phase, as I'm not looking for any smokiness to the bird.

                                    It's admittedly a sort of flying by the seat of one's pants approach, but we've been lucking out every year and stick with it. We just put the 25 year old Weber out to pasture with my son and got a new one with a thermometer in the lid, so I'll be curious to see what kind of heat we get in the grill for this year's go-round with the adjunct "oven!"

                                2. How many people will you be feeding? There were only four of us one Thanksgiving and I cooked a turkey breast and there was enough for all -- no leftovers though:(

                                  I also went from a house with two ovens to a house with one and I learned to make all of the side dishes the night before. It's actually pretty convenient because everything is prepared, the kitchen is clean and you don't have to rush. The turkey should actually sit for about 30 min. before you carve it so that should give you enough time to heat your other dishes. I find that my mashed potatoes, whipped yams and stuffing all taste better when made the night before. Just make sure you add the liquid to the stuffing right before you heat it up.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Saluti

                                    Actually, it was a half-breast I made that year, not a whole one.

                                    1. re: Saluti

                                      I usually have 12 or so.

                                      1. re: dlgoldie

                                        in which case a 12-pound bird should be fine -- they tell you to allow 1 pound per person -- and we find that to be more than generous. Even going with the formula that the bird is 50% bones and other scrap, that's a half a pound of meat per person -- and folks may not eat that much, especially if there are other sides.

                                    2. How many are you feeding?

                                      1. Spatchcocking and it doesn't fit spread out, cut it in half again. Roasts super fast with great skin.

                                        1. I had to work (from home) one Thanksgiving - graphic lay out. I put a turkey breast in the crock pot. Got the larger oval one so the lid would close. It was moister than baked or grilled. Doesn't look as pretty but if you slice it to serve then it doesn't matter on that. Got a thumbs up from the guys here and was the easiest bird I've ever done.

                                          1. we do the turkey in the oven then put the whole pan into an insulated cooler to keep warm while baking off the sides.

                                            1. My friend has one the oiless fryer he loves it- a pretty accomplished cook at that so I trust his opionion.

                                              1. Remember stove/oven from childhood and that big, black speckled roasting pan. Think turkey was about the only thing it ever got used for. It didn NOT fit in the oven... door wouldn't close. Dad took pliers to it to bend up one part of the rim so it would fit in and door would close. It woud only go in one way... but that worked for many years!

                                                My Dad was not a fan of dark meat and definitely NOT one to pick a carcass for bits. One year (larger oven) he made a "deconstructed" turkey dinner. TWO whole breasts, a few legs and a few wings (his mom's favorite part). We made the stuffing the usual way... lots of onions, celery, carrots, butter and Bell's seasoning. With no place to put the stuffing, we made foil packets, opened on top, and just set the breasts on top.

                                                1. Thanks to all of you for your advice. My plan was to cook the 18 lb, brined turkey in my oven at 325 for 3 hours, then move outdoors to the grill for one hour, then rest in an aluminum foil lined cooler for 1 hour. However, when I took it our of the over at the 3 hour mark, it was done! No need for the grill. Luckily, it held nicely in the cooler for 3 hours.

                                                  Any ideas why it cooked so fast? My oven is off a bit, but not that much. I had an aluminum roasting pan. Do brined turkeys cook faster?