Turkey Hacks?
November 21, 2011 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever tried this Cook's Illustrated turkey recipe? It purports to cook a 12-14 lb bird in two hours. I'm a bit skeptical.

I have a 14 lb 'brined young turkey' from Trader Joe's sitting in my fridge and I have been looking for some new yet simple ways to prepare it for Thanksgiving.

I tend to trust Cook's Illustrated but....I mean, it usually takes about 1.5 hours for me to roast a 4 lb chicken at 375. How the heck is a 14 lb turkey gonna cook in two hours at 400?
posted by gnutron to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Regarding the speed, the V-shaped roasting rack coupled with the water and vegetables is key to the speed; the steam coupled with the 360 degree exposure and heat creates an effect somewhat like a convection oven.
posted by carmicha at 10:18 AM on November 21, 2011


I've done a very similar thing (recommended by the Joy of Cooking) where you roast on the wing sides only and it does indeed cook much faster. The reasoning behind it is that the thighs are the hardest part to cook, and that the breast cooks much quicker. By putting the wings face down, they cook much faster.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 10:28 AM on November 21, 2011


The professionals at America's Test Kitchen (publishers of Cooks Illustrated) are knowledgeable, methodical and generally fantastic. We have two of their cookbooks at home and have never been led astray by them.

They know their stuff (and stuffing). I am inclined to think that if they stand by it, it's accurate and safe.

They also usually do a good job of explaining their decisions. You may want to sign-up for the free trial of their website to look around and read their explanation.
posted by oddman at 10:37 AM on November 21, 2011


I use this recipe every year. It takes more than two hours for me to fully cook the bird - usually I need an extra 30-45 minutes, so prepare for that. I also have to add more water to the veggies in the bottom of the roasting pan than they say to.

It does make an absolutely delicious bird and people fight over the carmelized roasted veggies from the bottom of the pan.
posted by misskaz at 10:40 AM on November 21, 2011


As an alternative, consider spatchcocking. It's amazing how much faster a bird cooks when it's flat.
posted by jon1270 at 10:50 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


We've been using that recipe for the last few years, but I honestly don't remember if the timing worked out to be accurate. The 2 problems we always have are with turning the bird, and with the veggies in the bottom of the pan burning. The second problem is easy to solve, just make sure to keep enough water in the bottom of the pan to avoid charring the vegetables too much. The first problem, we keep trying something new each year:

Grabbing with paper towels the first year (as suggested in the recipe) didn't work very well -- the juice soaks through to burn you, the towels slip on the turkey skin, we nearly dropped the thing and tipped it off the counter. Year 2 we tried having one person stick a wooden spoon in each end of the turkey to lift, while the other person used paper towels to sort of spin the turkey. This worked ok, but not great. Last year we used oven mitts wrapped in plastic grocery bags to just pick up the turkey and move it, which worked pretty well, but if the plastic bags touch the roasting pan they will melt onto the metal. So I think this year we'll be wrapping the oven mitts with bags again but using rubber bands to cinch them up snugly.

Good luck!
posted by vytae at 11:09 AM on November 21, 2011


Why would you wrap the oven mitt in a plastic bag?
posted by Doofus Magoo at 11:50 AM on November 21, 2011


I think the oven mitts are probably wrapped in plastic to prevent them from getting drenched with turkey juices.
posted by joelhunt at 12:20 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


we use it. it works.

two things to consider... the interior cavity of the bird provides a greater area for heat transfer from the inside. (this is one reason that using an oil immersion turkey frier is faster for a turkey than a chicken.) also, one reason they used to do slow cooking was so as not to dry out the turkey, which higher temps would do. brining puts more liquid in the bird and lets you use the higher temps. last week, we did a 20 pounder in a few hours. super moist. never fail recipe.
posted by FauxScot at 12:26 PM on November 21, 2011


Oven mitts in Ziploc freezer bags are my go-to method for turning a bird midway through roasting. The only kicker is that the Ziplocs can get slippery. This year, I have a new pair of silicon oven mitts that I think will make the whole thing much easier.

And nthing those who have said you can trust Cooks Illustrated, but that your timing may vary, not because the recipe is wrong but because birds are different and ovens are different. They get consistent results in the test kitchen, but your kitchen is NOT a test kitchen and you will have to accommodate for that.
posted by devinemissk at 12:28 PM on November 21, 2011


Yes, several times and Nthing the notes about your time may vary.

Also: This year, I have a new pair of silicon oven mitts that I think will make the whole thing much easier.

It will only make it worse!!! Think bird on the oven door or floor worse. Just sacrifice a couple of tea towels to the cause.
posted by digitalprimate at 1:03 PM on November 21, 2011


It will only make it worse!!! Think bird on the oven door or floor worse. Just sacrifice a couple of tea towels to the cause.

Lol! They have grippy texture.
posted by devinemissk at 1:44 PM on November 21, 2011


Nthing their recipe -- I've used it several times to great acclaim. I don't remember if it only took 2 hours, but I do remember it being relatively fast, and as everyone else says, it will depend on the turkey and your oven. Probably should stick to a 12-14 lb turkey with this technique, though.

BTW, our standard roast chicken recipe is now CI's "weeknight roast chicken" -- takes an hour or less (for us) for a 3.5-4 lb chicken. Heat oven to 450 w/ an oven-proof skillet inside (I use a cast iron skillet), drop a seasoned, olive oil slicked chicken in the skillet, roast for 25-35 mins (until breasts are 120/thighs 135), then turn off the oven and leave the chicken in there until breasts hit 160/thighs 175. (I often raise the temp to 500 for the last 5-10 degrees during the period when the oven is on if the skin isn't brown enough.) Foolproof and quick!
posted by odin53 at 2:10 PM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


derail: how long is "until breasts hit 160/thighs 175" on that roast chicken, usually?
posted by epersonae at 4:54 PM on November 21, 2011


how long is "until breasts hit 160/thighs 175" on that roast chicken, usually?

For our oven, seems to be about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the bird.
posted by odin53 at 5:48 PM on November 21, 2011


« Older I own the M*A*S*H - Martinis a...   |  How can my family and I (inclu... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.