If you follow this blog with any regularity it shouldn’t surprise you that I like to cook… and that I like to experiment when cooking. I’m always on the lookout for new things to try.
When cooking for a crowd, however, I play it safe. No need to risk something not turning out right. That’s why I’d never experiment cooking a turkey on Thanksgiving day any other way then how I’ve done in the past.
Today was different though. We had a 12 pound turkey my wife’s company gave her for Christmas. She didn’t get to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner because of retail work hours… so tonight was her Thanksgiving dinner.
Since I was cooking for just our family it was time to try cooking the turkey a different way. I had read about cooking a turkey breast side down but had never done it.
The theory is all the juices flow down into the breast making it flavorful and juicy.
I don’t own a roasting pan and rack. In the past I’ve always borrowed them from my mother-in-law. I improvised today resting the turkey on 8 washed whole potatoes in the largest pan I had. I figured it would keep the meat from resting directly on the pan. It worked perfectly!
After rinsing and patting the turkey dry I stuffed the cavity with chunks of white onion and carrot. Then I did something that I hadn’t done before… I used aluminum foil to cover up the cavity opening.
I had read this would seal in the aromatics and flavor the bird from the inside out.
A little butter basting and sprinkling of seasoning salt and it was ready to position the turkey in the pan breast side down.
More butter basting, seasoning salt, and a temperature probe inserted into the breast and it was ready for the preheated oven.
The first 30 minutes were at 400 degrees then I backed it down to 325. Two hours in it was golden brown so I pulled it and tented the whole thing with foil.
It took 3 hours to bring the temp to the desired 165 degree internal temp.
It smelled amazing! It was hard to let it rest for a half hour without sneaking a taste.
So how did it turn out? Was the meat juicy and flavorful? Would I cook a turkey this way again?
It was delicious! The meat was extremely juicy. Probably the juiciest one i’ve ever cooked. I would definitely cook a turkey this way again with one difference.
I’d flip it breast side up for the last 30 -45 minutes. The breast side didn’t get browned and there were indents where it had rested on the potatoes.
They weren’t deal breakers or effect the way it tasted but I think if flipped for the last little bit it would have browned and the indents would have cooked out.
All in all it was a great experiment and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it this way again for a crowd on Thanksgiving.
What are your best turkey cooking tips? Leave a comment and let me know!