Quick Comment on the 45 minute Turkey

2011 November 25
by Daniel Lakeland

The 45 minute Turkey recipe proposed by Mark Bittman doesn't work. Or rather, if it does work there are some tricks beyond simply splaying out the turkey. Here are my experiences:

We used a 10 pound Turkey in a disposable aluminum roasting pan. These aluminum roasting pans require support on the bottom, so we placed a cookie sheet underneath to ease inserting and removing the roast. This seems to have insulated the bottom and prevented the two-sided heating that improves the cooking time. So while he mentions the roasting pan in passing, in fact a high quality roasting pan may be an essential part of the equation.

Also, although he mentions 165F temperature in the deep thigh, and we got that within about 45 mins to 1 hr, the deep portion of the breast was still at around 110. It took more than two hours to get the deep breast cooked, and by then the outer breast was scorched. In other words, the techniques I've tried to develop over the last few years of adjusting the temperature and covering in foil and fooling around to get the perfect tender breast and thigh meat took not significantly longer, and produced much tastier results.

On the other hand, the thick thigh did turn out quite tasty. I can imagine a modification to this recipe that would produce excellent results, but not in 45 minutes.

The first thing I would try would be splaying the turkey, starting at 475F for 20 mins to get the browned skin and initial transient of heat, and then covering the turkey and dropping the temperature to say 350 for an hour followed by monitoring every 15 mins and reducing temperature, with a 15 minute covered rest outside the oven at the end when the deep breast comes up to 160 or so, letting the final equilibrium be achieved at 165 throughout.

Ultimately, the splaying process probably reduces the overall time, but it doesn't seem to significantly change the relative time differences of the different portions of the meat. The deep breast near the thigh is always the trickiest part.

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