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  • Best way to cook whole turkey?

    Roasted? In a pot? With what herbs? I want to retain as much juice and flavor as possible.
    My chocolatey Primal journey

    Unusual food recipes (plus chocolate) blog

  • #2
    My mom bakes hers in a bag. Although it is moist and delicious, it doesn't have that wonderful glaze. My stepmom roasts hers and you get the delectable glaze, but it isn't as moist. I am trying my hand at a turkey for the first time this year, and I picked up these two tips somewhere on the interwebs and they made sense to me:

    1. There is a difference in the rate at which the breast and the rest of the turkey cooks. To ensure you don't overcook the breast, ice it for twenty to thirty minutes before placing it in the oven while the bird sits at room temp.

    2. Place a whole onion and some celery into the cavity and the close it tight with metal scewers. Cook the stuffing (if you do that--I recommend using the offal. My dad does this and it is SOOOO good) separately and place in into the bird just as it's done cooking.

    I can't claim these are tried-and-true methods, but they make sense to me. I look forward to also using some of the great tips you are bound to get here. Good luck!!

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    • #3
      Brine it. You'll never make a turkey any other way again. The most moist and it cooks faster than traditional methods.

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      • #4
        I've done several methods of roasting with varying success, but in general putting the bird in a brine overnight is an excellent idea. You can really infuse a lot of flavor into the meat. (Williams-Sonoma sells a brine, but it's pricey; I do like their brining bags though, super heavy duty.) The next day, you want to make sure to dry the bird completely with paper towels and let it rest for at least an hour in the fridge uncovered to wick off any surface moisture. That allows the skin to crisp beautifully. I've typically done high-temp roasting, covering the breast with foil and turning the oven down for the finish. Several places have times/durations (Alton Brown, Williams-Sonoma, Cooks Illustrated).

        One of the best ways to roast a turkey involves having some very strong kitchen shears, decent grip strength, and a little patience. Cut out the backbone of the bird and butterfly it, laying it out on a large sheet pan. This reduces your oven time dramatically, and ensures that all parts of the bird facing up get nice and crisp. Also, less problem with drying out the breast due to reduced baking time.

        I always use butter, bacon fat, or both to baste the skin to make sure it's crackling good.

        If you don't want to split the bird, I agree that you can get some great flavor stuffing the cavity. I use halved onions and halved lemons, which impart a nice flavor. With a whole bird, I use a roasting pan and add enough chicken stock to the pan to make sure the drippings don't burn.

        So I guess my method sort of combines the above two answers...

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        • #5
          I second Finnegans Wake's tips. I roasted a whole one last night, and while I didnt do a brine, I stuffed the cavity with onions and carrots. I also put some broth in the roasting pain, and buttered the turkey (after making sure it was dry). Mark has a solid basic method: Ultimate Low-Carb Thanksgiving Recipes | Mark's Daily Apple
          I came out perfectly crisped and moist. I live on my own so I now have 12 lbs of turkey in the fridge though...

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          • #6
            From the Food Lab: The Food Lab Thanksgiving Special: Turkey 101 | Serious Eats

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ladycarnivore
              I made my first turkey dinner at 12 and discovered my method by accident. I did not know that a turkey was suppose to be defrosted so I placed it in the roaster frozen with the giblets still inside and roasted it.. It was the moistest most tender turkey I had ever had!! So every year Now I get up early, put the frozen turkey in the oven on 300 and go back to bed.. we wake up to the smell of turkey baking.. I turn the heat up to 350 for the last hour before we eat and uncover so it can brown.. It is still the moistest turkey I ever eat...
              Wow, that's really neat! This is definitely the most convenient way for me, considering I don't want to buy any extras or spend extra time basting. How do you know when to turn up the oven to 350? Is there a visual way of knowing?
              My chocolatey Primal journey

              Unusual food recipes (plus chocolate) blog

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ladycarnivore
                It depends on the size and total cooking time.. use a thermoter and when you get to about 140 degrees then up the temp and removemovee the top and let it cook until it reaches the desired 180 degrees.. If you do not have a thermometer (I highly suggest them) then figure 1 hour for every 3.5 pounds since you start at a lower temp you will be cooking longer..Hope this helps.. I pretty much do it by instinct after 30 plus years
                Sweet! I will definitely try it this weekend when I have time to wait around the oven. Thank you!
                My chocolatey Primal journey

                Unusual food recipes (plus chocolate) blog

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                • #9
                  Deep fry it in peanut oil, but that is NOT what you want to hear....... but dang it is good.....
                  I Kettlebell therefore I am.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TorMag View Post
                    Deep fry it in peanut oil, but that is NOT what you want to hear....... but dang it is good.....
                    Or home rendered pork fat. Or duck fat.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ladycarnivore
                      I made my first turkey dinner at 12 and discovered my method by accident. I did not know that a turkey was suppose to be defrosted so I placed it in the roaster frozen with the giblets still inside and roasted it.. It was the moistest most tender turkey I had ever had!! So every year Now I get up early, put the frozen turkey in the oven on 300 and go back to bed.. we wake up to the smell of turkey baking.. I turn the heat up to 350 for the last hour before we eat and uncover so it can brown.. It is still the moistest turkey I ever eat...
                      I thought the whole point of making sure that the bird is thoroughly defrosted is to reduce the chance of eColi and salmonella poisoning? I just couldn't bring myself to eat any bird cooked from frozen....

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TorMag View Post
                        Deep fry it in peanut oil, but that is NOT what you want to hear....... but dang it is good.....
                        DO NOT TRY TO HYBYRD WITH FROZEN METHOD!!! Explosions, fire, flying grease and general apocolypes ensue. Get directions. Yes the tastiest method ever.

                        Originally posted by breadsauce View Post
                        Or home rendered pork fat. Or duck fat.
                        I bet that would be awesome if you have 6 to 10 gallons of pork or duck fat laying around.
                        And the meek shall inherit the earth.
                        What good is a used up world, and how could it be worth having?

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                        • #13
                          for optimal results, definitely brine the bird overnight. it's fairly simple, and definitely worth it. if you're in a time pinch, you could start with a kosher turkey. they are soaked and salted during their preparation. not exactly brined, but close.

                          place the bird in a roasting pan, put some onions, celery, carrots, and even apple in the cavity. rub the bird with your herbs and spices. add some broth, water, or even beer to the pan. cover. roast at 450-500 for the first hour, then knock it down to 375. remove the cover when there is about 45 minutes to go.

                          if you're feeling really spirited, you actually do the first hour with the bird breast side down, then flip it and turn the temp down. this is the way a lot of chefs do it, and i have even seen emeril do it this way on tv.

                          and i second what guod says about frying a bird. a turkey should be completely defrosted and completely dry before frying or oil will literally explode out of the fryer. my brother is a fireman and every year on the holidays, without fail, he has to go to 1 or 2 fire calls because some moron had no idea what they were doing

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                          • #14
                            I vote deep fry that guy in beef/pork/duck fat...

                            if you have the fat.. or can get some for cheap

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                            • #15
                              I hijacked our turkey for TG last year and used this recipe: Malt-Beer-Brined Turkey with Malt Glaze: Recipe : bonappetit.com

                              For extra bourbon flavor, I used Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout, it's by far my favorite stout (And I'm a goose island loyalist). Granted the barley malt and beer are 'no-nos' in the primal/paleo world, but it's so freaking amazing it makes my toes curl.
                              Warning: I'm the most laid-back primal gal you'll ever meet.

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