Cooking Turkey 101

I had a discussion with a work buddy of mine years ago about turkey cooking.  He complained that his wife’s cooking was terrible and her turkey was especially terrible.  He stated that his wife wanted to cook a big turkey in the oven at a relatively low rate, say, 250 degrees.  This would create an all day affair.  In his frustration to speed up dinner he told his wife that the turkey took a certain amount of energy to cook which could be expressed as a dose of heat.  For example, at 250 degrees for 6 hours (250 X 6) the dose was 1500 degree-hours.  Therefore, taking the logic to the ridiculous nth degree, the turkey could also be cooked at any dose totalling 1500 degree-hours.  The bird would cook at 350 degrees for 4.28 hours, at 450 degrees for 3.3 hours, and at 900 degrees it would be done in 1.67 hours.  Of course he was purposely annoying his dear wife who was a true saint. 

This reminds me of the famous turkey paradox.  The white meat, which is already the most exposed portion in a traditional roasting pan, cooks faster than dark meat does.  With the thighs tucked under the bird, deep down in the roaster, by the time the dark meat is done, the white meat is dry and over cooked.   I like this discussion Jen Hubley recently had explaining that inside turkey meat receives it’s heat from sitting next to outside turkey meat.  In a theoretical cube of meat, the outside is always overdone when the inside gets up to proper temperature.

After reading her post, we have decided on an elegant and simple solution.  We bought a frozen turkey breast boneless tenderloin already seasoned.  Dinner in an hour, perfectly flavored.  Bon apetit mon amis.


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