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icing down turkey breast

skihornskihorn Posts: 600
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
I know Mad Max and other recipes suggest putting bags of ice on the turkey breasts so they will cook slower than the dark pieces. I totally agree with the concept. My wife (I was out picking up some elderly guests) pulled our Christmas turkey at 160. It was the most amazing white meat turkey I had ever tasted. However, the dark meat she said really wasn't quite done so she put it in the microwave (I cringe).

My question is whether the icing really works much. (The above Christmas turkey was iced.) I pull my turkey out of the fridge about 30 minutes before it goes on the grill. The meat is usually between 38 and 40 degrees and really isn't going to warm up significantly. Is putting 32 degree ice on the breast really going to make a difference?

It would seem the goal should not be to just cool the breast but also warm up the thighs. Letting it sit out long enough to do so naturally seems risky. I would think it would make sense to run some luke warm or room temp water over the thighs for several minutes and then put the ice on the breasts. This would create more real difference in the temps pre-cook.

My concern is that is it not good for the quality of the meat to run luke warm water over a cold bird? The reason I ask is that in every defrosting instruction for turkey I have read it always acts like sitting the bird in water is a last resort for defrosting. Given that this would be the easiest way to defrost I figure it must not be good for the meat.

Anyway, I did a turkey for Easter and iced it (but no warming of the thighs). I pulled it at 167 in the breast as a comprommise to avoid the Christmas problem of the dark meat not being done. The breast was extremely good but not quite as good as that Christmas turkey. The dark meat was fine and did not have to be nuked.

Thoughts?

Freddie
League City, TX
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Comments

  • skihornskihorn Posts: 600
    A related question is what temp should I cook the turkey? It would seem cooking at lower temps would slow down the process and let the temp differential disappear. Therefore, it would seem that cooking at 350 or so would be the best bet.

    That may be my problem. I usually wind up cooking my turkeys at low temps. This is not usually by design. What happens is that I am always scared that the bird will not be ready and I will have a house full of guests and other food awaiting a turkey. Therefore I start the bird earlier than I probably should. I start it at 275 dome with the idea that I will bump up the temp if it is not getting done in time. However, in every case the opposite has occurred as it is heading to being done too early. Therefore, I wind up cooking the last couple of hours at 250 or less. My first Egg turkey spend much of its time at only 220 dome. They have all been very good.

    My Thanksgiving tureky does not give me much choice. I am at my Col cabin and am using an electric water smoker that only does low temps. This works well because I can cook the turkey all day while we are skiing.
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  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 16,650
    mine probably sits out longer, and it does get washed/ rinsed with luke warm water. this year it was iced, frozen chips of duck fat under the skin on the breasts and it was one of the better i have done. one thing, when you put the bird in the egg, put the legs facing the rear of the cooker, its usually hotter back there and when lighting you can make sure of this ;) its an old trick that julia child mentioned on one of her shows along time ago with an oven, the back of the oven is hotter, especially if you keep opening the door. i believe max goes by traditional doneness methods more than temps, jiggling the legs for looseness, checking the drippings for color at the base of the leg etc. i pull around 162 but that internal is rising really quick, if im not prepared the extra few min might get it to 165. big turkeys also need a really long rest before cutting
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  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 16,650
    there is ALOT less carry over in temps when you cook them low and slow
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  • AZRPAZRP Posts: 10,116
    I cook my turkeys at 350° and I separate the breast from the leg thigh portion so I can pull them at the proper temperature. This doesn't give much of a table presentation but I carve my birds before bringing them to the table anyway. -RP
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  • skihornskihorn Posts: 600
    Thanks! I had never heard about pointing the legs to the back.

    Freddie
    League City, TX
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  • skihornskihorn Posts: 600
    AZRP: I had thought about separating also. I may try that next time as I too carve before the meal.

    Freddie
    League City, TX
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  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,399
    I haven't tried the iced breast method, but I often brine the turkey for at least 24 hours, if not 48 (and so I'm also unsure about why it would be poor practice to defrost in water). That way, I can cook at a dome of 350, and not overcook the breasts. The fattier legs and thighs don't seem to absorb as much liquid, and so cook at pretty much the same speed. Also, at 350, the birds usually get done somewhat faster than I anticipate, so I am usually holding them in the oven while finishing other dishes.

    However, like AZRP, this last year I did separate the bird and did the leg-thigh quarters apart from the breast sections. In fact, I foiled the leg quarters for the first half of the cook. They turned out more tender than any I've done before.
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  • civil eggineercivil eggineer Posts: 1,547
    I also seperate the legs/thighs from the breast/wings before cooking and pull when each has hit their target temps. I never had much luck with the whole icing the breast method. Just cut between the thighs and breast carefully and break and seperate the back where the two sides come together...easy, peasy.
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  • snake701uksnake701uk Posts: 187
    Always cook a turkey at room temp. Protect any delicate parts with bacon rashers. As they burn, eat or offer them!!!! Replace with freash ones. Remove bacon before end of cook to brown the skin. Pull early rather than late. If not stuffed, just put in in quartered onions garlic and herbs. Seal both ends! Salt and pepper everywhere. Use butter not oil. Never over cook!!!!
    Andy
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  • i usually have my bird out of the fridge for well over an hour prior to putting into the egg at 325 - 350 degrees ...and i rinse it out with luke warm water (but only for a minute or so)....so i think by the time i've iced the breasts prior to placing in the egg, there is enough of a difference in the temps between breast and legs to allow that catch-up time for the breasts to finish in the 160 range while legs get up to 180. . .

    also, i have had occasion where the thighs weren't quite done, and i've done the microwave thing for 1 minute or so, just to insure they are cooked through. ..this little bit of time in the microwave does not affect the meat texture or taste or moisture in way whatsoever. ...
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  • skihornskihorn Posts: 600
    From the expert himself. Thanks!

    Freddie
    League City, TX
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  • WessBWessB Posts: 6,937
    You've gotten many good replies so I won't comment on that portion of your post..but as far as the "ice" goes....your ice is NOT 32° if it came out of your own or a commercial freezer it is more likely around 0° most likely even lower...and it does make a difference...and I "personally" would never let any turkey get to room temperature..
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  • skihornskihorn Posts: 600
    WessB: I think you are mistaken on the ice. While the freezer is zero degrees water/ice never gets below 32 F. That is why no matter how much ice one puts in an ice chest, it will never freeze other items. Now adding salt to water and freezing it will get it down below 32 which is why rock salt was always needed to freeze home made ice cream.

    My thermapen instructions even said to veryify its accuracy was to place in a solution of ice and some water and it should read 32. It did even if it was touching the ice as it was.

    I do agree with you on not letting the turkey get to room temp. I don't want to take that chance, unless it is done quickly through water or something.

    Freddie
    League City, TX
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  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    after water has passed thru the phase change (it stays at 32 while freezing), it can drop below 32, absolutely

    ice both melts and freezes at 32. once it has passed thru the phase chnage, the ice can get colder, or the water can get warmer

    to oversimplify it a bit, when your 0 degree ice hits the breast, it will keep drawing heat from it until the ice hits 32 and starts melting. that water in the bag stays at 32 until the ice ismelted, and then that 32 degree water rises in temp, all the time steakling heat from the meat

    your thermapen is correct. if there is water in there, even in a cup filled with ice, it will be 32 degrees.

    but that doesn't mean the ice can't be made to go below 32
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
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  • WessBWessB Posts: 6,937
    The 32° number is totally accurate.....what we are dealing with is called "latent heat" water at 32° needs to lose 144 btu's to turn into ice, it's still 32 at that exact point.....ice at 32 needs to gain 144 btu's to turn back to water....And I totally agree with you as I posted...ice most certainly can be and is colder than 32°
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  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    i agree.

    32 ice water is one thing. but as you said, when the ice is finally ice, it can then be much colder than 32.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
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  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 27,075
    Wess,

    How much is that in kilojoules for us Metric types? :laugh:

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

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  • WessBWessB Posts: 6,937
    Don't wanna be messin with no lightning...metric or not..
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  • skihornskihorn Posts: 600
    You guys seem to know more than me, but it seems to not play into my real world life. As mentioned, no matter how much ice one puts in an ice chest, and no matter how well insulated, I have never seen it freeze anything.

    Also, I have read that when camping in cold temperatures folks bury food/water/beer in the snow to keep it from freezing. Also, that is what I thought was the secret of a snow cave for survival. Granted even if the snow/ice is less than 32 it could be greater than the air temp, plus being out of the wind would certainly help, as well as having the walls help retain heat generated from the body.

    As I said, you guys seem to know more than me but it sure doesn't fit my world.

    Freddie
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