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It's Alton Brown turkey time

  1. Nov 10, 2007 #1

    Evo

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  3. Nov 10, 2007 #2

    turbo

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    We're going to brine ours this year, but my wife wants to take charge and roast it. I prefer smoked turkey, but she liked the looks of the method he used on the "Good Eats/Holiday Treats" DVD (thanks again Zz!) so my smoker will stay cold and I will get part of that day to hunt.

    I have had deep-fried turkey several times - it seemed to be a favorite with the denizens that inhabited the GA-based company that I did technical consultations for about 15 years ago. Get invited to a BBQ? If it's a big crowd, expect that someone will have set up a gas burner and a huge pot for fried turkey. I never warmed up to the flavor. My hickory-smoked turkeys would kick their a** and my wife's roasted turkeys with aromatic herbs, garlic, and onions in the body cavity were better, too. :tongue2:

    Maybe the fascination with fried turkeys comes from the chance to play with propane gas, big burners, and gallons of extremely hot and highly flammable oil. :surprised If a couple of kids come careening around the corner of the house playing tag and knock over my charcoal smoker, it could leave us with a really ashy bird that might be hard to salvage, but we won't have to call 911 to get the ankle-biters flown to a burn unit.
     
  4. Nov 10, 2007 #3

    Moonbear

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    A few years back, I was invited over to the home of friends for Thanksgiving, and having a HUGE family to feed (they had tables set up in the living room, dining room, kitchen, AND basement rec room to accomodate all the people...what fun!), they cooked three turkeys, and decided to do each one differently, so you could compare each method of cooking side-by-side (and it just wasn't possible to cook three turkeys in one oven anyway, and kept some of the people outside tending to the smoker and deep fryer so the house was a little less overcrowded during the cooking). Of the traditional oven-roasted, deep-fried, and smoked turkeys, the smoked was my absolute favorite for flavor and moistness. The deep-fried one was second...not so much flavor, but the cooking method protected it from being over-cooked and dried out. The oven-roasted one was the worst, though, the cook in charge of the turkey roasting in that family is prone to drying it out, so it could have been considerably better had it been seasoned a bit more and not dried out, so could have competed with the deep-fried one easily enough, but I've NEVER had a roast turkey as good as that smoked one. :approve: That was delicious!

    No kidding! Aside from the burns from splattering oil, a lot of people burn their whole house down with those things! Do NOT use them on a wooden deck, or probably within 20 feet of the house or anything else flammable. It seems the most dangerous moment is when that raw, wet turkey is lowered into the oil and the splatter ignites on the flame. They should be sold with a fire extinguisher included.
     
  5. Nov 10, 2007 #4

    turbo

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    Your experience parallels mine, Moonie. Hickory-smoked is best, and if the person doing the roasting prepares and cooks the turkey properly (with aromatic herbs, garlic, onions, etc) it will beat out the fried one every time. Frying is fast and keeps the meat moist, but you can pull that off with a roasting pan, too. When smoking or roasting, we always position the bird with the breast meat on the bottom so the fats from the dark meat percolate down into the white meat. Using a properly-sized bird, brining, and controlling temperatures makes roasting a nice bird easy, but flipping them over (breast-down) is a great way to keep the white meat moist. We only use locally-grown birds - none of that commercial stuff that's been injected with salty-MSG-laden "broth". My wife gets one of these commercial birds free from work every Thanksgiving, and we give them away to family.

    BTW, I have never brined a turkey before smoking, though I brine my Atlantic salmon and some other meats, and my smoked birds are the juiciest critter you could hope to eat (the smoking rack is positioned over a pan of water, so it is a very steamy heavy hickory smoke). My wife saw Brown's description of the brining process and thinks that she might be able to out-do my smoked turkey with an oven-roasted one. She's already having second thoughts about giving up that nice hickory flavor. When boiling the carcass of a smoked turkey for soup stock, the house smells WONDERFUL.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2007
  6. Nov 10, 2007 #5

    Evo

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    Smoked turkeys are my usual favorite. But I had a cajun seasoned fried turkey that was absolutely to die for. :!!)
     
  7. Nov 10, 2007 #6

    turbo

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    In all fairness to the fried-turkey crowd, I may never have had one that was properly prepared. The yahoos that cooked them were more the "Git 'er done!" type, and probably paid more attention to the brand of beer they stocked up on than the preparation of the birds.
     
  8. Nov 10, 2007 #7

    EnumaElish

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    Will an oven roasted turkey keep more of its flavor and moist if cooked in an oven bag? How about wrapped in aluminum foil? (Leg of lamb wrapped in alum foil then baked slowly is my greatest red meat achievement so far.)
     
  9. Nov 11, 2007 #8

    Evo

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    The problem with wrapping a turkey in foil is that the skin won't get crispy and brown. If that's not an issue then, yes, you could use foil.
     
  10. Nov 11, 2007 #9

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  11. Nov 11, 2007 #10
    One of my aunts was a chef--and her oven cooked was one of the best ---second was a seasoned, marinated smoked
     
  12. Nov 11, 2007 #11
    I've been doing AB's brined and roasted turkey for years now, ever since I first saw the episode. I've never had a bad result from it yet and it always gets rave reviews from the family. Haven't had a good fried turkey experience yet, but I'm always looking. I just haven't met anybody who does it well yet. Most of the people I know that have done fried turkeys tend not to pay as much attention to frying time as they should.
     
  13. Nov 11, 2007 #12

    Moonbear

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    I discovered this totally by accident...well, not my accident, but a friend's accident. It was her first time ever cooking a Thanksgiving dinner with her boyfriend (now fiance), and had somehow gotten through her entire upbringing having never seen anyone actually prepare the turkey for roasting (I think she went to a grandparents where it was in the oven before she got there, or maybe really did just pay no attention while it was being prepared at home). Anyway, it made for a lot of humor that day, because her mom was giving her instructions by phone, which is not the easiest way to learn to cook anything. She didn't know there was supposed to be a particular side up, so put the turkey in upside-down. After we were done laughing at the very unattractive result (it definitely didn't look pretty for carving), we discovered that it actually kept the breast meat incredibly juicy and tender. I think if I had to roast more than one turkey for a gathering, I'd probably just cook one small one right-side-up for presentation (everyone likes to see a turkey carved) and do the rest upside-down to be juicier and add to the platters when nobody's looking at those birds (the more I try to juggle cooking, the more likely something will get overcooked, so that would be a really good time to use a trick like that to not have to worry as much).

    I don't like roasting things in bags, because to me, that's not roasting as much as it is boiling in the oven since everything is sitting right in the juices. It'll keep it moist, but it's just not the same dish to me.

    You should cover the pan with a tent of aluminum foil when roasting any poultry (and put the poultry up on a roasting rack so it's not soaking in the water at the bottom...I always pre-season the water at the bottom so once it's had the drippings mixed with it, it's all ready to add some flour to make a quick gravy). This allows it to self-baste and keep the moisture in. Then, about a half hour before the turkey is done, take the foil off and let it finish roasting without the foil so the skin gets browned (be careful when taking the foil off...as soon as you open a corner, the steam trapped inside will escape and you can get a nasty burn if you don't use tongs or a fork or something to help pull up the foil).
     
  14. Nov 11, 2007 #13

    Evo

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    Enuma, here is how to make a great roast turkey.

    Romancing the Bird



    The brining starts around 7:00 in this next part





     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  15. Nov 11, 2007 #14

    Moonbear

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    I've never known any other type to fry a turkey either. I always figured that sort of personality contributed to the desire to play with big vats of hot oil over an open fire.
     
  16. Nov 11, 2007 #15

    Moonbear

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    How the heck does brining work anyway? If you're soaking your turkey in a high concentration of salt, wouldn't that draw out all the water from the meat and make it drier (not to mention a whole lot saltier)?
     
  17. Nov 11, 2007 #16

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    Watch starting at 7:00, there is a scientific explanation. :tongue2:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  18. Nov 11, 2007 #17

    Moonbear

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    So in other words, yes, you are drawing the water out of the meat. :rolleyes: Just once you reach an equilibrium, you'll get exchange of salt between the water and turkey...but you have to dry it out to reach that equilibrium, and if you're just using salt water as a brine, you're accomplishing nothing. :uhh: I'm unconvinced. Probably just makes the turkey saltier because of all the salt on the outside, and for those who like salty meat, they think it tastes better. If you're adding seasoning other than salt, that's not brining, that's marinating. I think salt would defeat the purpose. It would seem better to keep the salt concentrations in equilibrium from the start, and put in the other seasonings that aren't naturally in a turkey to let them work their way in.

    Though, I still think that all it is really accomplishing is helping people avoid the mistake of putting all their seasoning on top of the skin that never allows it to penetrate the meat (and then gets removed before serving). Rub your seasonings inside the cavity of the bird, and work them under the skin, and you won't have that problem.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  19. Nov 11, 2007 #18

    Evo

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    He doesn't use plain salt water, he uses seasonings. The flavor does seem to get into the meat this way. A lot of turkeys for sale now are injected with a brine, it does improve the flavor (I like salt), but you're also buying a lot of water.
     
  20. Nov 11, 2007 #19

    Evo

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    Has anyone tried one of these? I've seen them at the store, but haven't bought one yet. Sounds too good to be true, but their stuffed chicken breasts are incredible, so maybe I will get one, the butter, garlic and herb one sounds yummy.

    http://www.jennieo.com/ovenready/default.html
     
  21. Nov 11, 2007 #20

    Moonbear

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    Oh, I HATE those. I've gotten chickens like that and after that experience, I read the labels VERY carefully. It doesn't add flavor, it makes them taste...well, just bad. :yuck:
     
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