Every year I run into the usual turkey problem: the breast is cooked at 155-160F and is dry by 170. The thighs are bloody until 170F. You either have juicy breast and slightly bloody thighs, or dry breast and fully cooked thighs. My solution is to cut off the dark meat and allow each section to cook to its optimal temp: (1) Cook entire turkey for 7.5-8 hours at 200F, (2) Remove main body/breast, (3) Cook dark meat for 20-30 min longer at 400F. Read more here: http://www.dishgracepoint.com/2015/11/a-juicer-turkey.html
We just had a Thanksgiving lunch for Interhigh last week and I'm going to write my notes for how I did my turkey.
Friday afternoon 5pm:
I injected my turkey. 18lb turkey = 12 tsp kosher salt (1/4 cup), 12 tsp sugar (1/4 cup), 1.5 cup hot water. I injected into the breast, thigh, drumstick and then transferred to a small clear trash bag, tied it and put it in the fridge. I like to inject but you can dry brine/dry rub or traditional brine your turkey.
Friday just before midnight: I cut up the turkey. I wrote about this in my last post. I cut off the leg quarters and wings from the main body. It was a little tricky to cut the joints but do your best.
I put the oven at 200F. Then I arranged the turkey pieces. The thighs flat on the bottom, the wings tucked against the body. It was the best way to tetris it into the tray. I suppose any arrangement would work.
I wanted to slow cook the turkey while I sleep and have it ready to go in the morning. I was afraid of overcooking it. I put my meat thermometer straight into the middle of the breast and stuck it into the oven. Use one of these thermometers: http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-Digital-Cooking-Thermometer-Timer/dp/B00004XSC5/
Here are my notes:
*This is for an 18lb turkey. At 200F, most turkeys should cook at the same rate whether 12lbs or 22lbs. That and oven variance can lead to different cooking times. Use the info below as a guideline.
12:30am- in the oven at 200F. Turkey was in the low 40Fs
4:40 am- turkey was 124F
6:30 am- turkey was 145F
7:30 am- turkey was 152F
8:10 am- turkey was 156F
I took out the main body and put into my cooler and put the lid on.
The dark meat now has to get to 175F. I put the thermometer in the thigh near the bone. I broiled it for about 2-3 minutes or so until it got that nice color. Then I put it on high at 400F for about 20-30 minutes
At around 8:45am I took it out of the oven and rearranged the legs with the body to make it fit in the cooler. Start to finish about 8 hours 15 mins. Depending on when your event is, you can back track it and figure out start time. Give yourself an extra 15 minutes to be safe.
Results: The white meat was one of the juiciest turkeys I ever made. I pulled it out at 156F. It's the border of just being cooked. It will be white with some pink tint (look at Costco rotisserie chicken if you are wondering what white w/pink tint looks like). The juice that pools on the bottom will be clear with a slight pink tint but no blood. 6 years ago I made one that I pulled at 152 and that one was juicier (though a little more pink). The thighs were nice and fully cooked with no blood or redness.
That joint that I cut off was very bloody and looked like it had some major blood vessels there (probably the femoral artery). That area is tucked inside between the body and the thigh. It's insulated by all that meat and hard to fully cook. It's normally the bloodiest part of the turkey, affecting some of the meat near that area. This method exposes that area to heat
you can that area on the sides are fully cooked and roasted here.