The Great Turkey Experiment

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!

Turkey on Potatoes

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.

Turkey cooked 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.

Roasted turkey

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.

Turkey tented in foil

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.

Turkey Dinner

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!

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