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Mad Max Turkey questions/problems

Hustling HareHustling Hare Posts: 105
edited 10:10AM in EggHead Forum
I've done the MM turkey several times now over the past couple of years and still don't seem to have everything working the way it is depicted in Max' fine write up. I just finished cooking a 19 lb turkey for a party tomorrow and it cooked way quicker than expected and the drippings in the bottom of the pan was not nice and brown like Max's but was quite black and burned. I've never gotten the nice medium dark brown pan drippings. [p]First, set up. I filled the Large almost to the top of the fire ring and lit it. After the temp had started to come up I put the plate setter in along with the three feet that would hold my pan. My pan is a 18 1/2 x 12 1/4 ss with rounded corners so it fits nicely in the bge sitting on the feet. Corners of the pan do, however, hang over the plate setter. Turkey goes in a V rack.[p]Anyway, my fire was too hot, you will say, and it seems reasonable. This time I let it get too hot at start up and had to shut it down until the temp was below 300 deg. Fortunately I was in no hurry. I readjusted the vents and waited until it appeared to be stable at 325 and on went the turkey. I monitored the temp by the pan with my Maverick. When the probe was clipped to the edge of the pan exposed to the fire gases the temp registered about 375 but when I moved the probe back so it was shielded by the plate setter I was right on at 325, plus or minus 5 deg. It stayed that way for the duration of the cook. The dome temp was also showing appropriately low temps (when it wasn't stuck in the turkey breast, I know, don't scold me.). I have calibrated the dome thermometer recently.[p]By temp measurements with my Maverick and another a W&M remote the bird was done in less than 2 3/4 hours. I let it go another 20 minutes or so and pulled. I didn't want to dry it out. [p]Max directs us to baste every 20 minutes or so. For me, I can't keep liquid in the pan. It all evaporates. I did add more wine and some apple juice today...gone. [p]I do believe the bird will be just fine tomorrow when we carve it for the party but I'm concerned that there is something not right in my technique or set up since it always cooks fast and my drippings are always pretty burnt. I'm planning to do another one (14 lbs) Tuesday and would like to have drippings that are usable for that great gravy.[p]Max? Others? any suggestions, please? I'd be grateful for some guidance. Was that pan temp, in fact, too high? What pan temp should I expect to see? I'm not sure the pan temp is the only problem as I have cooked others where the dome temp was 325 and the pan temp was lower yet I still have the burnt drippings. Am I getting hot spots at the corners? If so, what set up changes would be in order?[p]Thanks in advance. btw, I may not be able to respond until Monday due to our party tomorrow. I'll be back as soon as I can.[p]HH


  • Hustling Hare,
    well, you got me regarding the speady cook. . .19 pounds at 325 dome temp should have taken a good 4 1/2 hours. .. . only thing i can say there is that somehow the temp where the bird sits is higher than that., one difference could be how high your bird is in the pan. .. as you know i don't use a v-rack, just that trivet thing, so my bird sits pretty far down in the pan. . .although as you can see in my pics there is still plenty of it above the pan edges. . .so i don't know .. ..[p]also, with the two sticks of butter and the half bottle of wine, i'm never lacking for basting liquid in my pan and i never get burnt stuff. ... so either our temp gauges aren't as accurate as they seem and you are cooking at higher temps, or possibly i'm cooking at lower temps than my gauges are reading. . . [p]either way, to insure success, don't worry too much about time. . . if your bird is done, its done, don't worry about it being done too early, just tent it good and it will be fine for hours. . . but maybe try getting the temp at 325 at the pan edge ... . as for the drippings, if you get too much evaporation, just add liquid (apple juice, some of the broth from the stove, even some more butter) ... also make sure that when you are basting that you pull some of the liquid from the cavity of the bird and baste with that as well .. . .[p]HTH ... . [p]

  • mad max beyond eggdome,[p]Thanks for the quick reply. We're still up preparing for tomorrow. I'm serving today's bird cold for small sandwiches, etc. at a buffet table open house.[p]I did try adding some liquid, obviously not enough. I would put in about 6 to 8 oz and it would be gone in the next 20 minutes. Good idea about using the cavity juices.[p]I can't be sure tonight I had a 325 dome since there was little room between the breast and the dome wall. I do know I had 325 pan edge temperature for most of the cook. What would you think about a pan edge temperature of 280 or so? Would the corners of the pan being out in the rising hot air flow be a big problem?[p]HH

  • Hustling Hare,
    i guess the pan corners being in the hot air flow could be an issue. .. .maybe try making a 'tray' of aluminum foil, and laying that on your plate setter with the green feet on top of that, so that the foil extends past the corners of your pan thereby giving you a little more 'barrier' between heat and the roasting pan. .. .and don't be bashful with the liquid... . i can tell you that between the butter, wine and juices in my 22 pound turkey this year, i ended up with over 4 full cups of liquid in my pan when the bird was done (i know this because when i poured the contents of the pan into a 4 cup measuring pitcher to separate the fat, it overflowed. ...

  • Hustling Hare,
    If I may, and by no means am I a MM expert. Hey I've only done one MM turkey. [p]If I were experiencing the problems/scenerios you speak of, I would definetly cook my bird at a lower temperature. Seems like the 325 works for some and not others. May be your pan or location in the egg.[p]Just my $.02[p]Mike

  • Hustling Hare,[p]> I filled the Large almost to the top of the fire ring
    > I can't keep liquid in the pan. It all evaporates.[p]With your drippings burning off that fast, you have got to have some significant heat on the bottom of your pan. You can check this by setting up your cook and placing an oven thermometer in the pan instead of the turkey. Or put 2 cups of water in there and I bet you’ll see it boil at the hot spots. This condition will also turn your roasting pan into a high temp oven within your Egg.[p]Try starting with less lump. Filled as you say, you're putting 1000+ degrees within an inch of your barrier and the exposed portions of your pan. Only filling to the top of the fire box, and maybe a little less than that, will significantly reduce the intensity of the direct heat you are getting.

  • Big'unBig'un Posts: 5,909
    Hustling Hare,
    The first things that jump out at me; "Is there a plate setter or pizza stone? Is there enough airflow between the pan and the plate setter?, Is the turkey sitting flat on the pan, or is it raised off the pan by carrots and/or celery. When you do replace liquid into the pan does one spot inparticular, boil and sizzle? " If your Egg temps/readings are correct,then it sounds as though you are cooking direct, rather than indirect. What kind of pan are you using?, and can you add a disposable pan underneath with some rolled up alum foil to creat more airspace and further insolate your pan from direct heat?HTH.

  • Hustling Hare,[p]WOW!![p]I had the same exact problems on Thanksgiving with my MM Turkey. I think it might be due to too much lump. Additionally, I could not get my pan off of the placesetter with the BGE feet due to space. I will probably try a different method.[p]In my experience, my turkey was overdone in about 3 hours. Although overdone, the BGE saved me by providing a moist product. However, the gravy was absolutely awful. It was burnt and disgusting. [p]This time, I think I will try less lump at a lower temperature.[p]Additionally, I have invested in a Polder thermometer to allow me to monitor the temperature more closely.[p]Wish me luck.[p]Greg
  • I'm betting it's the overhang from the plate setter, too. Like you, I didn't lack for basting liquid, but the edges where the pan extended beyond the plate setter did get very dark. I rotated the pan 180 degrees in mid-cook so they didn't burn black.[p]Could Hare's problem be probe placement?
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