600s FAQs: Turkey

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These FAQ answers are from posts at the GEFP Message Board.

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  1. PREPPING QUESTIONS
    1. How long will it take to quick thaw a turkey?
    2. Will the aromatics taste too strong?

    3. Are there any other aromatics I could use?

    4. How long will it take to cook a turkey that weighs XX pounds using the GE method?

  2. THE 500 DEGREE QUESTIONS
    1. Why do I have so much smoke from roasting turkey at 500 for 30 minutes?
    2. Won't 500° make it too dark?

    3. I'm having trouble getting the skin to brown. Do you have any advice?

  3. THE 350 DEGREE QUESTIONS
    1. What's up with the pink turkey meat at 161 degrees? Is it because of the brine?
  4. POST COOKING QUESTIONS
    1. Can you make gravy with drippings from a brined turkey?
  5. AB's Rant on Deep Frying Turkey (Copied from http://www.altonbrown.com)

  1. a. How do I quick thaw a turkey?

Read the transcript from Romancing the Bird: Scene 13

  1. b. Will the aromatics taste too strong?

Cairyn,
    The stuff on the inside was barely noticeable in the taste of the bird, IMO. It did, however, smell heavenly. And the apple and cinnamon is really a tiny amount compared to how much stuffing is usually used in there.

  1. c. Are there any other aromatics I could use?

John,
    Never tried this with a turkey, but with whole chickens, I sometimes just put in cut up lemons or oranges.

Leonard,
    I plan on putting in lots and lots of garlic :)

  1. d. How long will it take to cook a turkey that weighs XX pounds using the GE method?

Mikemenn,

    After Thanksgiving 2002, I asked folks to tell me their turkeys' weights and cooking times if they followed the GE's recipe. The cooking time included the high and low temperature settings. I plotted them and drew my best-guess line amongst the points. You can use the chart below to help you gauge how long it'll take to cook your boid:

 

    So, a 15 pound bird will take about 2-3/4 hours. That'd be 1/2 hour-ish at the higher temp and 2-1/4 hours-ish at the lower temp. As you can see, cooking times varied so plan accordingly.

  1. a. Why do I have so much smoke from roasting turkey at 500 for 30 minutes?

???

  1. b. Won't 500° make it too dark?

Phil,
    I use his 500 degree method all the time, but I usually end up reducing the heat after about 20 minutes because I'm satisfied with the look. I just turn the light on and peer through the glass. I left a 14-16 pounder in for the full 30 minutes once, and some parts were more browned than I like.

  1. c. I'm having trouble getting the skin to brown. Do you have any advice?

John, 
    If you're having trouble browning the skin, rub it with canola oil. I use Pam cooking spray, which is just aerosolized canola.

Uncredited,
    Hmmmm, the browning thing really has me stumped. If I leave a breast in for a whole 30 min. at 500,it's too brown (almost black). I do have a couple of personal rules for brining which might help.

1) The target meat must be completely submerged in the brine. Sometimes I have
    to add some stock, sometimes adding the ice cubes raises the liquid level
    enough. Adding cider may be good for flavor, but a brine that is too acidic will
    take much longer to do it's magic.
2) The target meat should be cooked as soon as it is removed from the brine.
    Don't let it sit around or it will start to lose moisture.
3) Dry the skin, then oil it down.

    I did notice a difference in the flavor of the meat, and I figured since the meat no longer needed to be salted at the table, I would throw some peppercorns in the brine and take care of that too. Worked out really well.

  1. a. What's up with the pink turkey meat at 161 degrees?

Debbie,
    If you brined your turkey the meat will have a pink to almost red color next to the bone. I do mine to the 161 degree. I just did a 20 lb last week with the same problem. Remember the carry over cooking time. It will be done. I've been brining the turkeys since Alton's first Turkey show came on. The other day a Chef on Cooking Live is the first time I had ever heard about the pink or redness of the meat. Which I'd worried about for the last couple of years. If you go to 170 dry turkey.
    On Cooking Live it was stated by Michael Rameno (Chef) that when you brine the turkey the meat will have a red or pink tone. As long as it reads 161 it is done. I found this out from cooking many brined turkeys. Also let it rest with the carry over cooking time.

  1. a. Can you make gravy with drippings from a brined turkey?

Sean,
    1. After you brine, make sure you rinse the bird really well and dry. That way your pan drippings should be fine.
    2. As far as the giblets & guts, here's how I did it. Get a good size pot and heat 1/2 tbls olive oil over med/med-low heat. Add the neck, gizzards, hearts, everything they gave you and brown. The longer you cook it the more flavor you will extract so watch your temp. If you can go 15-20 minutes you will be very happy.
    After that period, you can add 4 cups water (you could do stock but it might be too strong). Simmer, covered for an hour (this step will extract more flavor). Then remove cover, strain (I just used a mesh strainer, but you could use cheese cloth) and simmer to reduce by 1/3. This will concentrate the flavors. Skim off the fat if it gets out of control.
    Add your roux, but make sure the liquid isn't too hot. Good idea to keep some stock (chx, veggie, etc...) to make sure it's not too thick.

Al,
    The trick for un-lumpy roux-based sauces is what the French call the "Liaison." All that means is use one hot and one cool. Hot liquid, cool roux. Cool liquid, hot roux.
    How it works is like this.
    Hot liquid to hot roux: The the roux cooks as it hits the liquid, making dumplings. Dumplings are kind of INHERENTLY lumpy.
    Cool liquid to cool roux: Lets things work their way apart as the temperature comes up to the cooking temperature, giving a flowery residue and floating the fat out. Not too lumpy, usually (providing you whisk CONSTANTLY), but sometimes kind of unpleasant with the oil slick on the top ...
    Do the Liaison and you give the roux JUST enough time to get comfortable in the liquid JUST before it thickens, and you get a smoother sauce.

  1. AB's Rant on Deep Frying Turkey (From http://www.altonbrown.com/rants)

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

At Long Last ... Vindication

Thanksgiving is just weeks away and the appetites of many American cooks are turning turkeyward. Despite the fact that the average American household generates exactly 1.32 turkeys a year it seems that more and more of you just can’t settle for a good ole roast turkey. You want variety. You want…deep fried turkey. And I don’t want you to have it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as fond of fried food as the next guy, but besides yielding mostly mediocre results, I believe the practice to be downright dangerous. I’ve tried explaining my point of view in various forums, but I’m always waved off as an overwrought ninny.

Well, it turns out that Underwriters Laboratories (UL) the nations leading safety certification organization’s a little overwrought too. An article in the November 2002 issue of Consumer Reports states that after testing 6 turkey frying kits, the folks at UL decided not to give certify any of the devices as safe. They certified parts of the systems, the valves and hoses for instance, as safe but not the cookers themselves. The CR report goes on to state that the UL found that many of the units tipped over and that if accidentally overfilled, “flames…engulfed the unit”. After doing a little testing of their own, CR also found the devices to be iffy at best. Of course since there are no standards for the gizmos I guess nothing will be done until some little kid gets turned into a crouton and the lawsuits begin.

So, if you don’t want to listen to me … fine. But before you pour 3-5 gallons of perfectly flammable hydrocarbons into that big, wobbly, top heavy pot on Thanksgiving morn, you might want to think about what other products around your home can be connected with the words “engulfed” and “flames”.

Of course I do own a turkey fryer and I love it … for stir-frying with a wok. The pot resides next to my grill. It makes a swell garbage can.

Oh, yeah…and don’t run with knives. You’ll put an eye out.

AB

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010