Upside Down Turkey Brining Experiment

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Fast_Ed
Posts: 542
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:45 pm

Upside Down Turkey Brining Experiment

Post by Fast_Ed » Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:45 pm

Having eaten far more turkeys than I've ever cooked, I thought this year would be a good chance to give it another try. With the help of my lovely wife, of course.

We started with a 13.5 lb solidly frozen turkey one evening and the next evening had this on our counter:
(Turkey)
(Turkey)
It came out quite moist and flavorful, and our digital thermometer showed 175+ degrees for the dark meat (measured at the thigh) and over 165 throughout the breast. Coloring is not perfect, but you can see that the upside down cooking method didn't flatten it out or dent it up much. Got a little scorched due to an error at the end... Ooops.

Back to the beginning. We needed to defrost this bowling ball. 6 hours of keeping the wrapped turkey in a sink full of 40 degree water pretty much did the trick. Any remaining frostiness would be removed during the 12 hour brining process.

The brine went a little like this:

(Don't be too uptight about getting every one of these ingredients in there. They all add flavors, but the most important thing is the salt. Seems like a cup of salt for each gallon of liquid is about enough.)
Dried Rosemary - a couple sprigs
Dried Rosemary - a couple sprigs
Whole Garlic Cloves - several
Whole Garlic Cloves - several
Sugar - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Salt - 2 cups
Salt - 2 cups
Whole Peppercorns - 3 tablespoons
Whole Peppercorns - 3 tablespoons
Onion Powder - Teaspoon
Onion Powder - Teaspoon
Bay Leaves - 3
Bay Leaves - 3
Chicken Broth - 2 pints
Chicken Broth - 2 pints
Lemon Juice - 3 Tablespoons
Lemon Juice - 3 Tablespoons
Then we added a gallon of water and boiled it for ten minutes to get everything dissolved and wake up the spices.
Last edited by Fast_Ed on Sun Dec 22, 2013 9:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Fast_Ed
Posts: 542
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:45 pm

Re: Upside Down Turkey Brining Experiment

Post by Fast_Ed » Sun Dec 22, 2013 8:53 pm

We simmered the brine for ten minutes, then added another gallon of water to cool the mixture
We simmered the brine for ten minutes, then added another gallon of water to cool the mixture
After the ten minutes of boiling, we needed to cool the liquid to 40 degrees F so the turkey doesn't spoil while it's brining. We added stirred in another gallon of water. This should bring the temperature down significantly, but we still had to put the brine outside (covered) for a while to get it down to 40. Some recipes use ice instead of water for this step.

We checked the temperature with our handy meat thermometer to ensure it was at 40, removed the gizzards from the turkey, and rinsed it out. We put it into the brine and used a gallon ziplock filled with water to hold the turkey underwater.
We let it brine for 12 hours
We let it brine for 12 hours
Last edited by Fast_Ed on Sun Dec 22, 2013 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Fast_Ed
Posts: 542
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:45 pm

Re: Upside Down Turkey Brining Experiment

Post by Fast_Ed » Sun Dec 22, 2013 9:22 pm

After twelve hours of brining, we pulled the turkey out of the water and set it temporarily in the pan.

We preheated the oven to 325F.
Halved an onion, an entire head of garlic, and some limes.  Next time, no lime and More Garlic.
Halved an onion, an entire head of garlic, and some limes. Next time, no lime and More Garlic.
In they go.  I left the spices from the brine stuck to the turkey.  Next time, I'll put everything in with the turkey right side up
In they go. I left the spices from the brine stuck to the turkey. Next time, I'll put everything in with the turkey right side up
Part of the experiment was cooking the turkey BREAST SIDE DOWN.  A foil snake and some celery sticks elevate the turkey and keep the breast skin from sticking to the bottom
Part of the experiment was cooking the turkey BREAST SIDE DOWN. A foil snake and some celery sticks elevate the turkey and keep the breast skin from sticking to the bottom
We put the meat thermometer probe in the deepest part of the breast and put the turkey into the oven. The alarm will chime when the meat hits 135F.  MMMmmmm, Beer..
We put the meat thermometer probe in the deepest part of the breast and put the turkey into the oven. The alarm will chime when the meat hits 135F. MMMmmmm, Beer..
When the breast hit 135, the thigh was up to a full 175, appropriate for dark meat.  The turkey is already flipped over in this picture.  Meat thermometer probe should actually be stuck in closer to where the red pop-up thermometer sits, as we discovered and corrected later in the cooking.  I buttered the outside of the bird to aid in coloring then *accidentally* lost the rest of the butter in the cavity of the bird with all that garlic.  This didn't disappoint anyone.
When the breast hit 135, the thigh was up to a full 175, appropriate for dark meat. The turkey is already flipped over in this picture. Meat thermometer probe should actually be stuck in closer to where the red pop-up thermometer sits, as we discovered and corrected later in the cooking. I buttered the outside of the bird to aid in coloring then *accidentally* lost the rest of the butter in the cavity of the bird with all that garlic. This didn't disappoint anyone.
We should have cooked the turkey at 325 until the deepest part of the meat read 165.  Improper probe placement and some impromptu stove readjustments caused confusion and minor charring.  Next time just keep it at 325.  The probe should not touch any bone, and temperature should be checked in several places to ensure all meat is at least 165F.
We should have cooked the turkey at 325 until the deepest part of the meat read 165. Improper probe placement and some impromptu stove readjustments caused confusion and minor charring. Next time just keep it at 325. The probe should not touch any bone, and temperature should be checked in several places to ensure all meat is at least 165F.
And that's it. We let the bird sit for 20 minutes or so before carving. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat. Based on the amount of juice that came out during carving, I think we should let it sit even longer next time.

These instructions may not be complete, but they will help us in making the turkey come out even better next time.

Fast_Ed
Posts: 542
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:45 pm

Re: Upside Down Turkey Brining Experiment

Post by Fast_Ed » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:44 pm

I still refer to this recipe every year when I cook Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey. I now use fresh rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and sage. Am thinking about trying apple cider in the mix at some point

Cook upside down at 325 until the internal temp in several places is 135, then flip the bird and coat it with butter and pepper. Cook to 165 or 167, again checking in several places.

Always use one of those thermometers that reads the bird as it cooks. Opening the oven repeatedly to check slows the cooking and makes the bird ultimately drier. The ultimate irony is basting the turkey theoretically makes it drier due to the extended cooking time.

I'm doing my brine tonight so its easier to cool tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

kevm14
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Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Upside Down Turkey Brining Experiment

Post by kevm14 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 7:31 am

Fast_Ed wrote:Always use one of those thermometers that reads the bird as it cooks. Opening the oven repeatedly to check slows the cooking and makes the bird ultimately drier. The ultimate irony is basting the turkey theoretically makes it drier due to the extended cooking time.
I have a fancy new oven that has a probe that plugs in (looks like a 1/4" headphone jack, lol). I'm sure it would continuously read temp but I think I can also program the oven to cook until the probe reads some temp, too. Sew fahnsay. Maybe ovens have had that for some time now but I never had one with the feature. It also convects. Is that recommended for cooking turkeys?

Of course that's all a waste because I have no idea if my oven will ever see a Thanksgiving turkey. We've never hosted and I don't see that changing anytime soon (and neither of us has ever prepared and cooked a turkey as far as I know). This year is particularly depressing, as we will be having Thanksgiving in a nursing home...

This is a great post. Wouldn't mind more food posts actually.

Fast_Ed
Posts: 542
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:45 pm

Re: Upside Down Turkey Brining Experiment

Post by Fast_Ed » Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:02 am

Maybe you should bring a delicious turkey to the nursing home! Turkeys are generally in sale for less than 10 bucks right now. I've determined that I usually spend more money buying ice to cool the brine.

The built in meat thermometer is new to me, but sounds really cool! Not sure if I would want the oven to turn itself off in case I put the probe in the wrong spot though. I usually miss and the turkey appears to cook in one hour based on readings.

Convection might be awesome but the oven reduces it's temp from what you indicate to compensate. Ours takes off 25 degrees. Unless you have a thermometer that measures the temp inside the oven, I would stick with regular bake for a first bird. The upside down part of this recipe compensates for and takes advantage of the oven being hotter at the top because the dark meat needs to be hotter anyways (175F). Plus it's self basting because the fat runs down it the whole time.

Once I learn how to cook a second thing, I'll have to post it!

dochielomn
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Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2013 9:16 am

Re: Upside Down Turkey Brining Experiment

Post by dochielomn » Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:36 am

"Once I learn how to cook a second thing, I'll have to post it!"

Ed, just buy a deep fryer. Why cook when you can just throw things into a fryer and eat now! Think like Homer when he wanted to buy a gun, "but i'm angry now!". This is the generation that doesn't have time to wait for anything. So, fry away!

kevm14
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Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Upside Down Turkey Brining Experiment

Post by kevm14 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:54 pm

Bill bought an "air fryer."

Fast_Ed
Posts: 542
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:45 pm

Re: Upside Down Turkey Brining Experiment

Post by Fast_Ed » Sat Dec 22, 2018 7:23 am

But then the turkey has to be cooked outside.. away from the children.. with beer.. yeah time to get one of those deep fryers!

Cooking a turkey for the fam today. Should be tasty, and we are hoping to fit a ham in the oven next to it this time.

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