There are many people who start their turkeys upside down, meaning breast down and thighs up. Flipping that turkey over, especially a really heavy 20 + pound bird is really tricky. I am always afraid that not only will I burn myself but worse the turkey might end up on the floor.
This past week I decided to do a little experiment and cook the turkey upside down the entire time. I was at Trader Joe’s (love that place) and they had a 15 lb brined fresh turkey with my name on it. They also had boxes of turkey broth and a bunch of other good stuff … but I digress, more on my love of Trader’s Joe’s another time….
A big issue that I have encountered, as I am sure some of you may have as well, is getting the thigh meat to 165 without drying out the breast. By the way, you cannot tell by color of the juices or the color of the meat if the turkey is thoroughly cooked – use a thermometer! 165° is done! Then there are the times that I have thought the turkey was done. Where I placed the thermometer is done but when I went to lift it out, the juices inside the bird told me to check again, sure enough the deepest part of the thigh meat, which is hard to get to at times, is not at 165° and the bird has to go back in.
Personally, I love the dark meat mainly because it is moister than the breast, while ‘No Baking Papa’ likes the white meat and drowns the whole thing in gravy and cranberry sauce.
My hope was to find a happy medium.
Here is my upside down bird, resting on it’s rack, ready to head to the oven. It is stuffed with onion and oranges and sprigs of fresh thyme and sage. The probe thermometer is inserted so I can keep track of the internal temperature without opening the oven door.
After 2 hours, my upside down bird was reading 165° where I placed the thermometer. I got out my handy thermapen and stabbed it in another spot, nope 135° in that spot, I repositioned the probe and back in it went for another 30 minutes. At this point I should have, but didn’t, flip the bird over to finish and brown the skin on the breast meat. Hindsight….
- The beast meat was REALLY moist, probably the best I have ever had. The thighs were not as moist as they usually are but were still very good.
- It was easier to test the temperature of the turkey. A definite plus.
- The juices that naturally collect in the cavity drained into the roasting pan creating some great ‘fond’ for making awesome gravy.
On the downside:
- The skin on the breast was very pale and sort of steamed looking and the rack left big ridges / indents in the breast. Once carved these things were not really noticeable.
Overall, this was a hit. Next time, I would try to flip the bird over at the end. That is IF I am able to flip the bird. This was only a 15 lb bird, much smaller than what I usually cook. Come this time next week it will be 125 lb woman vs the 22 lb bird!