Brilliant turkey roasting idea (hopefully)

Roasting a turkey is always a struggle to make sure the dark meat on the legs is cooked and the breast is not overdone. I present for your opinion the following idea.

Typically, the bird comes from the refrigerator, gets prepared and goes into the oven. I propose the following procedure. Prepare an ice bath, and put the turkey in it breast side down. The water should cover the breast, but not the legs. Then flip the turkey over and put it in a warm water bath just covering the legs. Place a bag of ice on the breast while doing this.

Now when the bird goes into the oven, the dark meat will cook faster as it already has a head start. If everything goes correctly, the breast and the dark meat should finish at the same time, or thereabouts.

What do you think?

Here’s the data.

Ok, it looks like I’m on the right track. Right now I have the turkey in a large stockpot with the legs covered by 85 degree water and an icepack on the breast. The temperature between the pack and the breast is 35 degrees, so I am shooting for a greater difference in temperature than was used in the experiment you cited. I think that difference cannot be to large. We’ll see.

Also, I see a lot of advice to roast breast side down. I may do that.

How long are you planning on keeping those legs warmer than 40 and less than 140? :eek: Sounds like your warm water bath is keeping them in the Danger Zone, where bacteria breeds best.

Stock up on the Immodium.

We’ve used Alton Brown’s brined turkey recipe for the past several years, and dry breastmeat is a thing of the past. This year, we’re brining it as usual (wet, not dry), but also spatchcocking it, with is supposed to cook it faster, and therefore be even less drying. (I’m not sure how you can get less dry than perfectly moist, but I’m just looking forward to all that perfectly browned skin, so I ain’t gonna argue.)

Edit: starting it breast down does work, but it works best with small birds if you plan on flipping it to brown the skin on the breast. Flipping a hot, slippery 20 pound turkey is not as much fun as it sounds.

I never do anything weird and never have dry meat. Tenting the breast with foil works as well as anything, IME. With today’s self-basting birds, you’ve got to work hard to screw them up, usually by overcooking. I cook a free-range bird and it’s always moist, using the above method. I do 450 for 30 minutes, then turn down to 350 and tent the breast. Remove tent during last 30 minutes for browning, if it’s important to you.

I posted this exact suggestion here several years ago. I’ll look for that thread in a bit.
I pull the bird from the fridge. Wash the brine off, put the bird on a platter. Place an ice pack on the breast while the legs and thighs warm for an hour or so then remove the ice season the bird and cook.
The breast hits 160 just as the thighs are closing on 175

I don’t think that idea is going to fly.

I agree with this:

I cook a turkey several times a year, and other than the fact that the roasting time is several hours, it’s one of the easiest things to cook. Comes out great every time. I use one of those baking bag things.

Icing the breast does work. I’ve done it for years and the difference is noticeable.
Of course the meat will be moist in a cooking bag, you’re steaming it.
Cooking in a open oven or on a grill is different.

Ok, I kept the bird out for a little over an hour. When I put it in the oven, the thighs were at 55 degrees and the breast was at 40. We’ll see how it goes.

Personally, I find the in-the-bag turkey as susceptible to overcooking and being dry as dry roasting. (In fact, I’d say moreso, since people seem to think that it’s impossible to overcook and don’t pay as much attention to it, in my experience.) Overcooked turkey is overcooked, whether in a wet or dry environment, and it will be dry, as all the juices that were in the meat are now in a puddle on the bottom of the bag.

I agree that icing the breast does work, but I typically don’t do anything special with my bird and am happy with the results.

Sending this over to the gobbling gormands of Cafe Society. Happy Thanksgiving!

Hal Briston - IMHO Moderator

FWIW my turkey is on the grill breast is 144F thigh is 165.
Tell me again how this doesn’t work.

Did somebody say it doesn’t work? I think some people said they don’t do anything in particular, while some use a bag, etc. I’ve seen the chilled breast method, and I’m sure it works fine. So does what I do.

First line of post 7.

As God is my judge, I thought…

If you wanted to prove that this method had a significant effect, you’d need a control bird. Side by side with your treated bird, you’d roast another identical bird that was not pretreated with this warm/cold treatment*. As it is, you may have demonstrated that this treatment yields a well-cooked turkey, but you have not shown that it is superior to any traditional roasting method.

*Or, you could treat one half of the bird but not the other, though thermal conductivity would be a problem in the breast area… Maybe cut the bird in half, but then you’ve compromised the skin integrity… Hmm. Probably the best thing to do would be to start with two genetically identical turkeys raised on the same diet and in the same environment to the same weight. Time to write a grant proposal.

Absolutely. And that’s how it’s done in one of the videos above, although that’s just the ice pack method, no warm water as in the OP. (Which is unnecessary, as just using the ice pack for a couple hours gets you the right temperature difference.)

It sounds feasible, but turkeys come in a lot of different shapes and sizes and it may not be easy to get the right results each time. I’ve heard of cooking the turkey for an hour in a medium oven with the legs free to get the bird warmed up before tying it and finishing. The big birds more common cousin, the chicken, is routinely cooked with numerous exacting steps by chefs to create the perfect texture of meat throughout the bird, no reason similar steps of combining roasting and steaming and covering parts with foil won’t work as well.

For roast turkey my procedure is fairly easy and works well, roast on one side in a hot oven for 1/2 hour, the other side for 1/2 hour, turn upright for 1/2 hour, lower the temp and loosely tent with foil until done.

As God is my witness…

I agree. That is what they did in the video.
While I have never roasted two birds side by side I can tell you that before before I started icing the breasts I only had poor to fair results concerning the moistness and texture of the breast meat.
Since I started icing the breast before roasting the results have been 100% excellent. That is over about 35-40 turkeys over the last 10 years.
:::shrug::: it works for me.