Roasting a turkey doesn’t have to be complicated! Read these tips for roasting a turkey.
Many gadgets promise to help harried cooks avoid the dreaded dry turkey. Why bother when these simple tips give you a beautiful, juicy roast turkey.
Understanding the challenges in roasting a whole turkey helps us analyze the effectiveness of various tools, techniques, and gadgets designed to produce the picture-perfect holiday bird.
These tips apply to roast capon or a whole chicken, as well.
The Trouble with Turkey
Roasting a whole turkey perfectly is every cook’s dream. With the exception of vegans and vegetarians, most Thanksgiving or holiday diners share some fantasy of that beautiful bird presented by the smiling cook.
Crispy skin, moist meat, and deliciously basted stuffing are the things we aspire to, hope for, and too often miss.
We have all had dry meat, uneven skin, and “dressing” cooked outside the bird in deference to food safety concerns.
The problem is that most turkeys are the ubiquitous broad-breasted white breed, which is bred to have a huge breast.
They’re often grown and fed in such a way that this is out of natural proportion to the rest of the bird.
The white meat of the breast is leaner and cooks more rapidly than the dark meat causing the commonplace overcooked, dry meat.
It’s nearly impossible to have the dark meat cook through without drying out the breast.
Tips for Roasting a Turkey
Here are three techniques for perfect poultry roasting!
Flipping the Turkey
Turning the bird upside down for the beginning of the roasting is widely touted by cooks in the know to help.
The juices from the darker underside of the bird baste the breast internally, the theory goes.
One simply flips the bird over midway through the roasting (with an hour left of roasting time) to finish the breast and brown the skin.
The Roasting Wand
When your turkey is too large to easily flip, using a roasting wand is genius.
If you love stuffing cooked inside the bird, it’s also the tool for you. Sections of metal tubing slip together and are threaded through the stuffed bird.
The tip is then removed, leaving a metal tube to conduct heat through the stuffing and the center of the bird.
This has the added advantage of reducing the roasting time considerably. No more getting up at the crack of dawn.
The Harold McGee Ice Pack Tip
If you happen to have a monstrous toddler-sized turkey (say, 23 lbs or so), then the flipping thing isn’t easy or even safe to attempt.
Noted food scientist and idol of food geeks near and far, Harold McGee suggests an easy, though unconventional technique.
Prior to roasting the turkey, you will remove it from the fridge to bring it to room temperature. So far, nothing unusual.
McGee then recommends trying food-safe ice gel packs to the breast during this warm-up time.
Essentially, you will begin the breast roasting at a lower temperature than the rest of the bird.
More tools and gadgets that may help you roast your turkey!