Lunchtime poll – how ya gonna cook that turkey?
November 24th, 2010
01:30 PM ET
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Our pal Pete is planning on smoking his bird. I spent yesterday afternoon deep-frying one inside my apartment (stay tuned for the recap). My friend Eric Diesel, with whom I've spent the past dozen Thanksgivings has been brining like a fiend and will, I'm guessing, roast a super-succulent turkey for tomorrow's feast.

There's a bounty of ways to tackle cooking a turkey, and most of them have their merits. Extol the virtue of your favored method in the comments below.

soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Nevada Anteby

    This is just amazing. I wish I could do the same.

    February 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  2. Lara Betton

    You article is well written. I enjoy reading your blog.

    February 1, 2013 at 1:51 am |
  3. Eldon Seaholtz

    Very good writing. Interesting and accurate.

    January 31, 2013 at 3:07 am |
  4. Lee Cobetto

    Amazing. I like what you did.

    January 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  5. Dave

    I like the old fashioned oven method. I know deep frying is very popular butt the the aroma of a baking turkey is part of the Thanksgiving experience. Deep frying has to be done outdoors and you completely miss the sensory experience of an old fashioned Thanksgiving.

    November 24, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
  6. Mark

    Roast the turkey breast side down. The juices will run down to the breast, thus, keeping it moist. The legs will practically fall off and also be super tender!

    November 24, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  7. talliana

    I always season the turkey with Adobo the day before. You have to also use onions, celery, and garlic inside the cavity for flavor. I roast in the bag because it is easier and the bird always turns out perfect. i can't stand it when people just take the turkey out the bag and place it in the oven to cook. Yuck!!

    November 24, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  8. AuroraDawn

    Well,my 2 best friends just arrived we are indulging in a gin and diet 7-up and making my famous Chocolate/Whiskey Pecan Pie because I have to work tomorrow. So however you all cook your turkeys,enjoy them and your time with friends and family.

    November 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  9. BTip

    No Turkey for me. I do not support Factory Farming...

    November 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  10. CSnord

    I brine the turkey in 2 gallons of water, 1 1/2 cups salt, 1/2 bottle of Chardonnay, 1 oz Juniper berries, 1 oz coriander seed, 1 oz allspice berries, 1 head of smashed garlic, and 2 cups of apple juice - 1 hour per pound. I dry it off and rub it with a compound butter made with garlic powder and citric acid, then roast at 350 until the thigh is 165 degrees. It comes out perfectly every time.

    November 24, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  11. Sally

    I microwave my turkey. They get done and brown and stay really moist and do not dry out.

    November 24, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Amber is this even possible?

      November 24, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  12. ralph

    OK: Trash Can Turkey. Prep turkey as normal, Brine, Rub, Inject, ect... Put the turkey on a stand and place a galvanized garbage can over it. Put hot charcoal coals on the top and around the bottom. Wait two hours and remove the perfect turkey.

    November 24, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  13. Angel

    I am making my turkey in a brown bag. It's the best turkey ever. A plastic bag steams the turkey rather than rosting it.

    November 24, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  14. Stacy

    My husband will cook our turkey in a garbage can. He built a fire ring in our backyard. He'll put a stake in the ground and lay aluminum foil on the ground all around it. The turkey (which will be brined overnight) goes on the stake. A galvanized metal trash can is inverted over the bird. He then will empty a bag of charcoal on top of the garbage can and around the bottom. A little lighter fluid to help get things started and once the coals are burning nicely, the bird will be done in about 2 hours. Since we have a 19.5 lb bird, it might take a bit more than two hours. It's like having a convection oven. And the nice thing about this method is that the kitchen oven is free for the sides! The turkey turns out really, really tender. You do have to have a good pair of welding gloves to handle the hot can and the hot turkey after cooking. We have a garbage can and a pair of welding gloves that are only for cooking.

    November 24, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
    • Amber

      This actually sounds like the Americanized version of a tandoori oven :)

      November 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  15. Blocparty86

    I awalys cook my turkey in a Reynolds Turkey bag and I read that it's better to cook theturkey breast side down in the bag. Has anyone tried this?

    November 24, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
    • talliana

      My husband's boss used to be a chef overseas and he told us to do our turkey this way. It just makes the meat moister than the usual breast up roasting.

      November 24, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  16. Rick

    I have been smoking our turkeys for about 15 years now. Always moist and delicious. But the best part as far as my wife is concerned is that it's not in her oven. She has it to herself and of course she doesn't have to deal with the bird. Also the smoking preserves the meat so it is still moist a week later when you are sick and tired of it. Happy T day everyone. Rick

    November 24, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  17. Bobby Spiller

    I do a pork roast with apples along with some chicken dressing and the normal other sides. My family really don't care for turkey.

    November 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  18. Master swimmer

    Thanksgiving dinner shopping list.
    3 fresh 10lb hen turkeys
    2 white onions
    8 med yams
    1 bag of red potatoes
    1 bag of Idaho russet potatoes
    2 bags of fresh cranberries
    2 cans of Mandarin oranges in syrup
    1 can of crushed pineapple
    1 bag of small marshmallows
    3 boxes of herb stuffing (No Stove Top)
    2 bags of garlic crutons
    2 -3 lbs of Sausage
    1 bag of Dried cranberries
    4 cans of kernel corn
    2 cans of creamed corn
    2 white onions
    2 bags of baby carrots
    1 bag of celery
    4 bulbs of garlic
    4 lbs of real butter
    1 gallon of milk
    1 gallon of OJ
    1 cranberry juice
    2 pints of sour cream
    3 lbs of bacon (No Maple smoke)
    1 large jar of crushed garlic
    2-3 lbs of fresh Green Beans
    blk pepper corns
    Sage ground and fresh
    1 bag of lemons
    2 fresh large costco pumpkin pies
    whipped cream
    4 bottles of Sauv. Blanc Wine (Ferrari Carrano or close)

    November 24, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  19. Master swimmer

    Brining 2 14 lbs birds in salt/sugar garlic and liquid swmoke. One for the BIG GREEN EGG one for the fryer. Then lets talk STUFFING!

    November 24, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
  20. Craig

    I'm going to use heat this year.

    November 24, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      No turkey tartare for you this time?

      November 24, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  21. dubay

    There's no need to eat animal flesh.

    November 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • Master swimmer

      No need for you to.

      November 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  22. Bellana

    I always use the Morton Thompson Black Turkey recipe.

    ZOMG amazing. Hugely care intensive but soooo worth it.

    November 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  23. stevo

    "Millions of turkeys are being murdered this year." and WOW are they yummy!

    November 24, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  24. bwright

    Has anyone ever heard of turning the bird upside to roast it? My friend says then all the juices trickle down to the breast and keep it moist. Turn it over for the last 30 minutes in a hotter oven to crisp the skin? Could this possibly workK

    November 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  25. Bob

    Millions of turkeys are being murdered this year.

    November 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • Amber

      1) You mean sacrificed to the purpose for which they were born :)

      2) I'm not sure why you specify this year. It happens every year.

      3) It's not just turkeys. All sorts of tasty meat animals face this fate. Turkeys just have an above average consumption rate this time of year.

      4) 10s of millions would be a more accurate estimate, considering it was well over 45 million for last Thanksgiving alone, not even including the rest of the year or all the turkeys that involuntarily donate their lives for various processed products.

      November 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
    • Jack

      Yes they are, and they taste great.

      November 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • Snowbunny

      ... and cows and pigs and chickens, etc.

      November 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
    • Charlie

      You mean slaughtered. Only humans can be murdered, unless you really want to make the argument that a turkey's life is equal to that of a human. Is that what you think?

      November 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  26. AuroraDawn

    I'm a big fan of roasting with herb/bacon mixture placed under the skin of the breast and legs.

    November 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
  27. Amber

    I should add that my boyfriend and his friends tell the mythic legend of the bacon cheddar bird. This was before my association with them but it apparently involved poking the turkey full of holes in the skin, threading it basketweave style with bacon and cheese and then shoving a bacon wrapped lb of cheddar up inside. It sounds...disturbing to say the least, but they all swear it was the best turkey ever. (and yet they haven't repeated it, so I don't know...)

    November 24, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
  28. Shane

    What's the difference between the "Roasting outside of the bag" and "Bake" option...aren't these the same (cooking in the Oven)?

    November 24, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      There's a weird technical difference that has to do with how the air circulates around the meat.

      November 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
      • Amber

        I think a more clarifying response would answer the question:

        If I wanted to bake a turkey what would I physically do to the bird that is different than what I do to it if I want to roast it outside the bag. (Please describe as if relaying recipe instructions)

        I am confused about that also. I mean I guess roasting makes me feel like the oven might be hotter.

        but I used "roasted" and "baked" interchangeably for things like potatoes also.

        November 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
      • Amber

        Well aparently I can't post my research because the comment got too long or something but according to various sources on the internet any of the following might be true:

        1) There is no difference
        2) You bake starches and cassoroles and roast meat and veggies
        3) Roasting is a term that used to mean "cooked in front of a fire" whereas baking meant "cooked by hot air"
        4) Roasting is a type of baking.
        5) Roasting uses higher heat than baking or more heat up front.
        6) Roasting involves uncovered whereas baking is in a container (say a casserole pan, a foil tent, or a "roasting bag" :)
        7) No one really knows any more and chefs and laypeople alike ask this question constantly.

        It might make an interesting entomological argument, but yes as far as I can tell "baking" is a redundant response in the poll.

        November 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
      • Kat Kinsman

        Ohhhh – gotcha. Multi-tasking today. Will answer more thoroughly shortly. Wee answer – a "roast" setting for an oven tends to focus more head from the top, so that, especially, is browned. Cooking mod would likely include a greater attention to basting the top or potentially tenting with foil.

        More soon!

        November 24, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
      • Amber

        Eh...hate to leave a dozen comments, but as I finished I thought of one thing.

        I suppose if you cut up the turkey or just took its legs or breasts or something, put them in a covered dish with liquid or veggies or whatever, then yes, baking would be the only choice in the poll that would describe it. (like bbq baked chicken breasts in a covered dish)

        November 24, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
      • Kat Kinsman

        So – what we're working with is related more to stove settings than the actual cooking process. Moot, I suppose, if your oven doesn't offer multiple cooking settings – just temperature.

        November 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
      • Amber

        Ah *L* That may be the issue (oven settings). My oven was born in 1982 and has a dial and a switch. The dial is for temperature, the switch is "on" and "off". The joys of apartment living...

        November 24, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
      • Kat Kinsman

        Oh, I know it. I live in Brooklyn and my apartment's stove was so ineffective that my husband and I asked the landlord that of we replaced it ourselves with some manner of 21st century model, would he please not raise our rent?

        It worked.

        November 24, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • Eva

      In the bag version you put it in a big plastic bag intended for oven roasting, oven roasting is naked or foiled. We do it all the time and it turns out a fantastic turkey. I do a butter/salt/pepper rub and stuff with aromatics and use the Reynolds oven bags.

      November 24, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
      • Eva

        I read your question wrong, I thought you were confused about bagging :)

        November 24, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
  29. amayda

    I follow a recipe done by Alton Brown with modifications. No brine (1st modification), do whatever to turkey that you plan to do seasoning-wise, bake uncovered at 500 degrees for 30 min to set skin, put 2 cups water in bottom of pan and cover with foil (2nd modification), lower temp to 350 and bake until temp probe reads 162, remove foil and bake an additional 20 min to ensure crispy skin. For a 14-16 lb turkey, this should take about 3 hours and you will have a wonderfully juicy delicious turkey.

    November 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Amber

      I remember the Alton Brown recipe (and have done it). It sounds like other than the temperature/timing though this is all your recipe and not his :)

      November 24, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
      • Shane

        I make the Alton Brown turkey. It is very good and moist. I would recommend to everyone.

        November 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
      • amayda
        the last paragraph is almost identical to what I put up there, I just cover it for the majority of the roasting time and uncover it to ensure crispy skin :)

        November 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  30. jaymac

    I've been frying turkeys for a few years now. Makes for an awesome, juicy bird. Last year, by father in law tried frying a boston butt. This was a bad idea. The hot oil cooked all the fat off the butt, and all we were left with was a tough, crispy ball of meat with pockets of oil.

    November 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • Wheelz

      Jay - Boston butts are all about "low n slow" cooking (i.e., BBQ). Not surprised at this disaster! Happy Thanksgiving!

      November 24, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  31. Hungry?

    What's wrong with cooking the damn bird in an oven? Just don't forget to call me when it's ready to eat.

    November 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  32. Ruby

    It's all about the deep fried turkey for us. Oh, that crispy yummy skin! Last Friday's trial run was a complete success!

    November 24, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • Hungry?

      Successful? Was the verdicr Innocent or guilty or did you have a hung jury?

      November 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  33. Amber

    I'm still debating as to whether [wet] brining makes a difference to the inside of the bird. I know it does to the skin, but I've had juicy birds both brined and not and dry birds both ways as well. (chickens, turkeys, and the occassional duck included in the sample group)

    I know theoretically the reverse osmosis process "should" make a juicier bird, but I'm not yet convinced. Thoughts?

    P.S. Aside from brine, another good question would be on various types of butter and oil rubs. I live near the Mexican border and it's not uncommon to grease the chickens in lard before roasting them. I can say that this process + spices makes for the most mouthwatering skin ever... I've even done it myself but you have to make sure to rack it so it can drip or the whole thing turns into an oil slick. Mayo or sour creme rubs I've done on chickens also turned out surprisingly good. I've never actually greased a turkey though, although I have been tempted...the longer cook time and amount of meat [i.e. my rack won't hold it] usually made me decide against it, but I do see people like Bobby flay do various herb butters and stuff all the time on their turkeys.

    November 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
    • donnie

      why is your ps longer then your actual letter? lol kidding sounds delicious where do i sign up to get some bird like that?

      November 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Olga

      I'm mixing 8oz of spicy brown mustard and 8oz of mayonnaise, add a little solt and ground black pepper. Coat turkey inside and outside (no staffing inside) and let it stay for 40-60min. After that I'm adding 1-2 cups of water to the pan, close lid and baking it for 2-3 hrs without looking at it. After that – remove lid, put few washed apples inside the bird and in the corners of pan and bake it 30-60min longer basting 3-4 times during that time. This is recipe invented by me and I'm using it for >15 years. Results are – !!!

      November 24, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
    • anita miller

      Amber, go to It is supposed to be a fool proof way to cook a moist turkey everytime. I am trying it this week.

      November 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  34. Snowbunny

    We are roasting it in a bag! MMMMM

    November 24, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
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