For some insane reason, I offered to host Thanksgiving dinner this year. All things considered it went well, but I did have a problem with the turkey.
I followed Alton Brown's method of brining, starting with a 500F oven for 30 minutes, covering the breast with the foil "turkey triangle" then taking it down to 350F until the heart of the breast meat reaches 161F. I let the breast get to 165F before taking it out. The color was perfect and breast meat, wings, legs, etc. were cooked wonderfully, but to my horror, the lower portions of the bird were undercooked. Luckily we had plenty of breast meat sliced before getting down into the bird, so there was no contamination issue and we had plenty of meat to serve.
I shoved the bird back in the oven with a foil tent as soon as we completed carving to finish the cook and then made turkey soup with the remaining carcass today. FWIW, I followed proper sanitation rules with my workspace, cutting boards, utensils, etc., using bleach water spray between steps.
The bird thawed in the fridge for four days and brined an additional 24 hrs., also in the fridge.
The question is, "what happened"? Yes, I deviated from the recipe in the following ways:
1) I used my own brine recipe (different spices)
2) I dispensed with his single preheated apple and onion in the cavity and instead used "traditional" onions, carrots and celery.
3) I used a high sided disposable foil roaster and V rack I already had instead of a sheet pan and flat rack Alton uses.
4) I dispensed with the ice chest and ice water brine bath and went with straight cold liquid in a 5 gallon bucket in the fridge.
My theories are:
1) The veggies acted as a heat sink, preventing the bird from cooking properly.
2) The bottom rack location in my oven was too cool.
3) The bird wasn't completely thawed (seems unlikely, though it was 18 lbs).
The turkey, sides, etc were big hits, but I'd like to nail down what went wrong before abandoning the method and maybe switching to a "breast down" roast. No matter what I do next time, brining is the key.