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Roasting a Turkey without tin foil..

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone - this is my first post..

I'm looking around for tips on roasting a 7-8kg turkey without using tin foil - My client has insisted on health ground (no 'artificial' materials etc). Last year I simply covered the surface in fatty smoked bacon, which was OK, but the bacon dried out and cooked too quickly. It's also a longish slow roast in an English 'AGA' range type cooker (4hrs or so).

Does anyone have any good ideas for this?

Many thanks!
post #2 of 16
6 hours is a long time for a turkey, even of that size.

Foil is mostly for controlling browning but there are other techniques.

The main trick is rotating the bird. Start breast side down until the back is nicely browned. Then one thigh up to brown, then the other thigh. Lastly the breast up for browning which will probably be almost done at this point so watch it closely.

My roasting rack doesn't do the thighs up very well so I can't follow those instructions exactly, but pretty closely.

Phil
post #3 of 16
before there was aluminum foil, folks used cheesecloth & basting...

I've done it that way - works just fine.

another approach: roast not, bake & blast
low temp (275'F/135'C) longer time
when done (by thermometer) turn up the temp for crisp brown & pretty.
works quite nicely with turkey & chicken, no so well with duck & goose where a higher temp is needed to render out the fat.
post #4 of 16
Dilbert is right
Years ago we never used foil ,we soaked cheesecloth in clarified butter and rendered chicken fat or oil and covered bird and basted it frequently, Came out crisp, brown and juicy.
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post #5 of 16
Do it Grant Achatz style and Sous-vide it, although, plastic is "artificial" too...
YouTube - Grant Achatz Thanksgiving -- Part 1

I did a turkey this way, separately, and I'll NEVER go back to cooking a turkey any other way. Even if I don't sous-vide it, I'll always cook it separately.

what are the "rules" on artificial materials for health reasons??
post #6 of 16
You could try an oven bag - dust the inside of the bag with flour and spices then bake per instructions, but this might intrude on the artificial side of things. It does do the bird nicely though.

Or Google a recipe for Beggar's Chicken. Even if you don't end up doing it this way, it makes a great read. Its basically done in a crust of flour and water (see recipes for more detail), baked, then the resulting hard crust cracked open once done and supposedly it is extremely moist and tender. Haven't tried it, but want to one day.

Could it be done en papillote? Now this is an idea from a complete novice at cooking the big bird....thought I'd throw it in for discussion. Don't shoot me down in flames :)Just a thought - maybe with several layers, then its only paper and not foil or plastic. I like the slow cook then blast idea - maybe even brine it beforehand?

DC
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
'Health reasons' are that the lady is a homoepathic doctor - and anything made from artificial materials like foil, polythene is an issue for her.. Even using non-stick pans is getting me angry looks!

En papillotte is interesting! But I think I may go with the 'turning 3 times' idea.

In the past I've pumped a load of herbed butter between the skin and breasts - around 1/2 thick spread throughout. I guess this is going to be a dumb idea if starting the bird 'breast down' :look: ??

Thanks for all the suggestions by the way..
post #8 of 16
A turkey is a big bird and turning is a bit of a trick. Most people need silicone oven gloves, mitts they'll wash later, lots of paper towels, or .... At any rate, have a strategy for turning a big bird. It ain't a chicken.

Also, for heaven's sake, if you're going to turn, you must truss. Trussing a turkey means three bands of twine. Tie the legs together. Bend the wing tips and twist the wings behind the bird, then truss them. Finally, truss the the thighs so they stay close to the bird.

The turning method works best with a medium or small bird. Try and stay under 18# or so. The size also seems to work well for keeping the time down when cooking at "normal" temperatures. Controlling time is very important to you, so as neither to dessicate the breast meat, nor turn the skin to leather.

Not dumb. Do it. Or better still, inject the breasts and thighs.

When you get the turkey breast side up, "bard" by covering with strips of bacon.

When you remove the turkey to rest it (at least 20 minutes!), you can finish rendering the bacon in a frying pan until crisp; use the fat for the roux for your gravy, and crumble the crisp bacon itself into the stuffing.

All of this will work best with a brined turkey. You can brine your own (which is best), or buy quality pre-brined turkeys -- just not at the super market -- not only from specialty stores but from Trader Joes of all places! Another strategy is kosher. Kosher birds are treated with a lot of salt as part of the koshering process -- and although they're not brined, they act that way. Brined or not, most supermarket turkeys can't compete with birds which have been raised and processed appropriately. Worth the extra money.

All of that said, for the past several years we've smoked all of our holiday turkeys and due to popular demant it seems as though the tradition will continue indefinitely. IMO, smoking is the simplest and surest way to wonderful turkey.

BDL
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post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Great stuff BDL.. The turning option was worrying me with 8kgs of molten bird! I might do a test over the weekend with a chicken, and cover it for the first third of the cook with baking paper (not sealing it - just a loose cover, which I frequently do when pan frying meat). Or actually the middle part of the cook would be better to ensure a good browning on top.

Another good tip for the gravy is to roast the bird on a layer of veg (carrot/onion etc) rather than wire grid - This doubles up to make a richer stock..
post #10 of 16
I've had no trouuble turning with just table forks. One in the neck and one in the tail area. Works great.
post #11 of 16

salt and pepper cavities-stuff loosely if stuffing 

 

start with foil tent and remove for last hour if  under browned 

 

Cook turkey at 325 degrees follow standard internal temp guides for thigh, breast and or stuffing

 

   STOP OPENING OVEN AND PEEKING AND WORRYING-A TURKEY IS ONE OF EASIEST THING TO COOK CORRECTLY AND WELL. NONE OF THIS TRUSSING AND TURNING CRAP. ENJOY YOUR FAMILY AND GUESTS!!!

 

J.

post #12 of 16

it's been in the oven since 2008.  I'd bet a little money it's done.....

post #13 of 16

I start with a large brown paper bag with no ink.  I saute some bacon and my sausage then saturate the paper with the drippings.  I tent the turkey, or other large fowl, put it in the oven and don't look back.  bird comes out picture perfect with crisp skin and super moist breast meat every time.  Depending on the size of the bird I'll slice along the thigh joint for the last half hour of cooking so it's not pink when served.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhySoDifficult View Post
 

salt and pepper cavities-stuff loosely if stuffing 

 

start with foil tent and remove for last hour if  under browned 

 

Cook turkey at 325 degrees follow standard internal temp guides for thigh, breast and or stuffing

 

   STOP OPENING OVEN AND PEEKING AND WORRYING-A TURKEY IS ONE OF EASIEST THING TO COOK CORRECTLY AND WELL. NONE OF THIS TRUSSING AND TURNING CRAP. ENJOY YOUR FAMILY AND GUESTS!!!

 

J.

WOW this IS an old thread.

 

It's hard to break family traditions and ways of cooking the bird.

 

The reality of this now-a-days is that in order to get the dark meat cooked through, the breast meat is sacrificed.

 

We stuff the bird, cover it with foil and forget about it for a few hours, then lift off the tent and place the already overcooked bird back in the oven to brown it.

 

Same old story year after years after year.

 

To separate the breast from the rest of the bird to cook and make the stuffing in a casserole dish takes all the fun out of the holiday., but insures a better product.

 

 

Turkeys are bred for their big white meat breasts.

The males are so big that they can not stand up because their breast are so heavy.

The hens must be artificially inseminated because the boys just can't do the nasty.

 

Such great pains are taken to insure that beautiful white succulent breast is proper and we go and cook the heck out it.

Even the cook books still have the same old techniques for cooking the bird.

 

It has been and will always be to cook by temperature and NOT by time.  

The 18-20 minutes per pound guideline is simply just that.

Cook book authors must give the cook a standard by which to calculate cooking time but that it is merely their thoughts, and their recipe technique.

Only experience can teach.

Some people have been cooking there Thanksgiving bird for more than 50 years the same old way and never thought about any other ways.

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

WOW this IS an old thread.

 

It's hard to break family traditions and ways of cooking the bird.

 

The reality of this now-a-days is that in order to get the dark meat cooked through, the breast meat is sacrificed.

 

We stuff the bird, cover it with foil and forget about it for a few hours, then lift off the tent and place the already overcooked bird back in the oven to brown it.

 

Same old story year after years after year.

 

To separate the breast from the rest of the bird to cook and make the stuffing in a casserole dish takes all the fun out of the holiday., but insures a better product.

 

 

Turkeys are bred for their big white meat breasts.

The males are so big that they can not stand up because their breast are so heavy.

The hens must be artificially inseminated because the boys just can't do the nasty.

 

Such great pains are taken to insure that beautiful white succulent breast is proper and we go and cook the heck out it.

Even the cook books still have the same old techniques for cooking the bird.

 

It has been and will always be to cook by temperature and NOT by time.  

The 18-20 minutes per pound guideline is simply just that.

Cook book authors must give the cook a standard by which to calculate cooking time but that it is merely their thoughts, and their recipe technique.

Only experience can teach.

Some people have been cooking there Thanksgiving bird for more than 50 years the same old way and never thought about any othe

 

An old thread indeed!  

 

How does separating the bird and putting the stuffing in a different pan take "all the fun" out of a holiday?  I mean, only one person is doing the cooking of that, and really, how much fun is it to sit and shove goop up a bird's bum?  I've never done it so I can' attest to how much "fun" this is.  I don't want to start a stuffing war or anything, but I've eaten a lot of stuffed turkeys and the thing they all have in common is that they are all dry and overcooked.  And the stuffing is mush.  Even as a kid I couldn't find the fun in that and my mother did it every year.  It's probably why I avoided the turkey and stuffing altogether for years.  When there's a lot of people present nobody notices that you skip it.  It's much harder to pass on turkey and stuffing at small gatherings though.  

 

But ever since I attended other Tday dinners and have seen how wonderful stuffing can be when it is roasted separately (soft bits and brown bits and crunchy bits too) I have understood the pleasures of stuffing.  And consequently the pleasures of turkey that is not dried out.  In fact I have a lot of fun on Tday now that I have figured all this out.  But the stuffing wars continue although there is simply no way to stuff a bird and have it come out well, no possible way.  In order to safely cook said stuffing the deep core of it must reach a temperature of 165F.  That means that the outside of the bird (the part that we eat) must be so overly overcooked that it's beyond redemption.  

 

I have always said that tradition is to be reevaluated.  I've never held on to too many traditions.  A few things here and there but when it comes to food you don't have to do the same thing over and over and over again.  I don't care how hung up people get on their mother's cranberry sauce.  When I do a holiday you don't know what to expect.  If I was doing Tday one year I'd do an Italian style Thanksgiving, the following year a New Orlean's Style, and so on.  There are simply too many creative ways to do something to be tied to one.

"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 #16 of 16

Too the words right out of my mouth Kouk......

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