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Turkey

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I know I know it's too soon to start talking turkey but I need help. My Mother is coming for a visit next week and will be leaving before Thanksgiving. I haven't had thanksgiving with my folks for years so I'm planning on an early celebration. The problem is I've never roasted a turkey and need some advice.

I watched America's Test Kitchen once and they offered an interesting tip on keeping the meat moist. I tried finding their method online but you have to have a paying membership to their site yadda yadda and so I'm going by my memory. This is what I remember:

Bring the turkey completely to room temperature before cooking. Fill a large bowl with ice and place the turkey breast directly into the ice for an hour until the breast is extremely cold nearly frozen. The rest of the turkey (dark meat) remains at room temp. At that point they rubbed it with butter and seasoning and put the turkey in the oven breast side down (don't remember degree or how long) and then turned it over to finish cooking (again I don't remember how long). Their rationale for freezing the breast while keepint the rest at room temp was that the breast meat cooks faster than the dark meat, and that usually by the time the dark meat has reached a safe temperature the breast is overcooked and dry. This way the the breast is frozen and alllows for a longer cooking time than usual.

It made sense to me but what do you think? And how do I fill in the blanks about time, temperature, do I put stuffing in or no, etc. I also can't remember if they covered the turkey or not while roasting.

Help is appreciated.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 22
Most, if not all, health inspectors and the folks at your local USDA extension office will tell you to not stuff the turkey. My mother always stuffed the turkey and baked any remaining stuffing in another pan. I do the same. Nobody in our family has ever gotten sick from this practice. I can't recall any direct knowledge of people getting sick from this but apparently it has happened.

I have never heard of the ice treatment you mentioned. Not sure I would go through that much effort.

Thinking about it now---and I can't really recall ever having had really dry turkey.
post #3 of 22
The ice method ought to work. I pulled the same stunt in school during an exam for a poelle of whole duck and turnips. I got lots of cock-eyed glances from the chefs. I also got near perfect marks for technique, so there you go.

Not to sound too jerky and unsentimental but the older I get the less I appreciate the effort that goes into trying to cook whole, large birds. Fact is breaking the turkey down and cooking the legs and breasts separately (not to mention having a pristine, raw carcass to make stock from) is the sanest way to go. Unless you are wedded to the idea of carving it table side, of course.

--Al
post #4 of 22
I stuff my turkey EVERY year with an oyster cornbread stuffing and bake an extra pan of it on the side. In order to keep it as moist as possible brine the bird for 8-12 hours. It is the only true way to do it.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #5 of 22
I don't usually stuff my bird for Thanksgiving for 2 reasons. #1 I think the bird cooks better without being stuffed. #2. I like the dressing (stuffing) better baked on its own. I think it as a better consistency and I like the little crispy bits on the top and bottom when baking it separately. As for the technique you describe, I've never tried it but sounds like it would work. I usually just cover my breast when it is getting close to done. As an alternative to roasting I often cook my Turkey on the grill. Low, indirect heat and some wood chips for a nice smoky flavor. It comes out great and takes about the same amount of time as roasting if not a little less.
post #6 of 22
I am a traditionalist. If the turkey is frozen, I thaw it completely in the fridge. This requires some advance planning, of course. I recently roasted a 20-lb turkey that I'd had in the freezer, then defrosted in this way. It came out perfect, without any complicated this or that. I simply stuffed the bird, put it on a rack in my dark blue enamaled roasting pan, and into the oven at 325 degrees, with foil over it. The breast was moist and tender, the dark meat also was done to perfection. Just lucky? Maybe, but I like to blame my successes on experience.

If this is your first turkey, or if you'd had very little practice with these birds, my advice is to start small. When my daughter was a new bride, and wanted to do their first Thanksgiving at her house, she turned to her mom for help :look:. A few weeks ahead of the event, she and I went shopping and purchased a whole chicken, which we stuffed and roasted, cooked the giblets, and made the gravy. It was all the same as doing a turkey, just on a smaller, less intimidating scale. By the same token, there is no rule that says you have to have one large turkey. Thanksgiving at our house includes 2 small birds, usually about 10 pounds, instead of one big 20-pounder. This reduces the cooking time, allows for 2 kinds of stuffing, and provides 4 drumsticks instead of only two. (I had that large one I mentioned earlier because of a sale I had taken advantage of...it was never intended for a holiday dinner).

Now, I see that you have little time to 'practice' in this way, since your event is happening very soon. This is not the time to tinker around with new ideas. Just go for the basics. And never fear...you don't really think your mom will let you go this alone, do you?

As for the question of the stuffing causing illness: I, too, have always stuffed the turkey, but not untill just moments prior to roasting. I believe that the stuffing helps to add valuable moisture, and certainly improves the flavor. Care must be taken to be sure the correct internal temperature has been reached. An accurate thermometer is critical for this. Then, once the turkey is taken out of the oven, the stuffing should be removed immediately. Right away...even before putting the turkey to "rest", scrape out every bit of the stuffing. Leaving the stuffing inside the turkey is an open invitation to serious illness.
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post #7 of 22
Hi,

I recall reading about that technique. There are a few back issues of CI around, and on or two books of their recipe compilations. I'll look to see if I have it.

Unless you really want to put out the entire bird for presentation (it's alwaus great to see a golden brown and delicious bird on the table) cooking the dark and light meat separately offers more control.

However, lots of people get great breast and dark meat roasting the whole bird. Tenting the breast with foil, roasting upside down, chilling (not necessarily freezing) the breast. The problem with freezing or chilling the brest, at least for someone who's not even roasted a turkey before, is timing. It may be difficult to get the breast and the dark meat right. Not saying it will be, but it could be.

Now, if you don't mind roasting dark and light separately, you can reassemble the bird for presentation at the table.

Good luck with whatever you do ...
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Lots to think about in your replies.

I'm very weary of brining simply because I've tasted kosher poultry before (which apparently is brined) and I thought it tasted inedible.

I will give some thought to cutting the turkey up and roasting each piece seperately. Personally I find the tactic of tableside butchering to be time consuming and annoying so I would rather offer a platter of already carved turkey.

So if I do cut up and roast the turkey in pieces do I add the breast pieces an hour later or remove earlier? Do I cook it covered, with oil and seasonings, should I make a garlic/herb butter to stuff under the skin?

Temperature?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #9 of 22
Personally what I do is a Persillade under the skin of Parsley, Shallots and butter. Than roast the turkey breast side down with a bit of water or stock in the bottom. Perfectly moist every time and no fancy schmancy undertakings...
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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post #10 of 22
I do it the simple way. Rinse the turkey, then sprinkle salt and pepper inside and out, push butter under the skin, place gobs inside the cavity, and rub the outside with the butter as well. Roast breastside down for the first half of cooking, then flip over so the skin browns and crisps. I don't have a rack so whatever part is on the bottom sits in it's own juices. That's it!
post #11 of 22
You are going to get hundreds of ways to cook the bird on this site. No scence giving you another.
1. All I will say is I do not like to cook stuffing in the bird, as this slightly steams it because of the moisture content of the stuffing.

2. Some people add egg and onion to stuffing, this could make it go bad quicker
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post #12 of 22

Turkey Carving

I know you didn't ask for this, but here's a video on turkey carving:

The New York Times - Video Library - The Butcher Carves a Turkey
post #13 of 22
Allie has just summarized Cook'sIllustrated "Best Roast Turkey" recipe in their book The Best Recipe

For a 12-14 pound turkey, they brine for 12 hours , losely stuff the cavity with buttered chopped onions, carrots, and celery, slather with butter, truss, and put the rest of the veggies on the bottom of the roasting pan with one cup water.

Roast the bird breast-down on the rack for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, then take out and tuirn so a leg-thigh side is up, for 15 minutes, then turn so the other leg is up for another 15 minutes. Then turn breast up and cook to a temp is 170-175; remove and let rest. Pretty simple, though it does involve a lot of hot-turkey handling. They suggest using wads of paper towels.

I don't think I've ever been disappointed with one of their recipes.

Mike :chef:
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post #14 of 22
I will say that a finished temp of 170-175 is way over cooked with a carryover of 10-14 degrees. Cook the bird to 155-160 and you will have a 160-170 finished bird. Remember that everything is dead at 145-150....
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #15 of 22
I stuff the cavity and place the extra in the pan around the bird. Same recipe my mom has used for years. My stuffing has onion and eggs and its still not an issue as long as you stuff at the last minute before it hits the oven. Otherwise I just use S&P on top of a butter smear.
post #16 of 22
When possible, I brine the turkey overnight, unless it is one that has already been subjected to some sort of 'flavor enhancement' process.

Rinse it off, s & p in the cavity along with lemons and oranges, quartered, a few cloves of garlic and maybe a rosemary sprig if I have some on hand. Olive oil or butter on the outside, it helps to work it under the skin in places where you can do so.

I usually do the stuffing in a seperate dish, but use the turkey neck and gizzard to make a broth to use as the liquid for the stuffing. I fry up the liver in butter and garlic as a treat for the cook. I like to pull it out of the oven at about 155 - 160, loosely tent with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes or so. Like Chefhow said, you can get another 10 - 15 degrees from carryover.

I LOVE turkey gravy.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #17 of 22
Mapiva.
Kosher poultry is not brined. It is sprinkled with Kosher salt , left to sit a while then rinsed in free flowing cold water. The purpose of which is to rid the turkey of excess blood which is what makes the bird go bad and harbors the majority of bacteria. If anything ,Kosher poultry in a lot of cases is superior to regular. Kosher meat however is another story.
A lot of your turkeys today are not brined but injected with a flavor enhancing solution(butterball) which adds to the weight of the total bird and has you paying not for meat, but for liquid. You can do this yourself at home and save money.
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post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
I don't really understand the brining or koshering then. I once got Empire Kosher chicken which was labled as best in ny etc, but we hated it. It had a sweet flavor to it. Will brining my bird change the flavor? What exactly will it do?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #19 of 22
Brining contains a lot of salt, whereas marinating does not

If you buy a turkey or chicken you want it to taste like a turkey or chicken.

It reminds me of people that say ""wow this fried fish taste like chicken"" well then order and eat chicken.
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post #20 of 22
My suggestion:

Go look at Julia Child, The Way to Cook. She spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out the best answers she could to your questions, and her explanations are spectacular as always.

My recommendation:

1. If you don't care about carving at the table, and have some facility with a knife, split the turkey and cook it flat over stuffing (one of Child's suggestions). Her method works amazingly well, with timing and everything for all weights. This removes nearly all the difficulties of what gets done first.

2. If you want to carve at the table, you may find a stuffed turkey works less well than unstuffed, depending on your oven. Some ovens sort of "collect" heat at the top and don't vent well, so a big turkey will be hotter at the top, where the breast usually is --- exactly where you don't want extra. You can get around this by turning the turkey at intervals, but it's an imperfect fix. Again, Child has wonderful suggestions that will produce excellent results.

3. Never, ever trust anything CI says. Their criteria for what is a "working" recipe or a "good" flavor are extremely narrow and specific. Everything they suggest should be added to the mental file-cabinet as "an interesting thing to think about," but never made gospel. For example, a friend of mine finally cancelled his subscription --- which was a present he didn't pay for --- because they did a taste-test of barbecue sauces and one of their top criteria was "good tomato flavor." My friend is from North Carolina, where they believe that barbecue sauce should never, ever have tomato in it. CI doesn't care: they know what's right, and if you disagree you're just flat wrong, because they know the truth. Ignore those idiots.

4. Stick to people you can actually trust: Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Paul Prudhomme, Marcella Hazan, Barbara Tropp, Madhur Jaffrey, Alfred Portale.... Don't be swayed by some moron with a bow-tie.
post #21 of 22
I think I figured out, and may have, the book with the recipe. It'll take a bit to find the book as most of my books are packed up in anticipation of a move. But if you still want the recipe, I'll look for it over the next couple of days. No promises - if you saw the boxes stacked in the garage you'd understand - but I will look.
post #22 of 22
Most everything has happened at some time, or will happen. Like you, I've never heard of anyone getting sick - anyone - from eating stuffing cooked in a bird.

In the FWIW Department, there's a well-known Mennonite recipe, Bobart, I believe, which is a raisin quick bread that is baked inside the chicken while it is being roasted. Been used for generations ... if anyone cares to find out more about it, there's a site called Mennonite Girls Can Cook which has a recipe and some info about the technique. The site has a number of other very nice recipes as well - worth checking out, guaranteed!

Edit: The raisin bread recipe is Bubbat - sorry.

I don't recall anyone being concerned about stuffing a bird until relatively recently. Has something changed in the last decade or two that is causing people to become ill or die from stuffing? Years ago who heard of salmonella poisoning, or e.coli contamination. I'm sure there may have been some isolated cases, but I'm old enough to remember not hearing anything about such business until what, the early 1990's, when there was that infamous Jack-in-the Box incident.
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