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10 Common Turkey-Making Pitfalls

MrGobbler101MrGobbler101 Posts: 10
edited 11:39AM in EggHead Forum
Rick Rodgers ON Nov 17, 2009 at 11:27AM

I roast at least 50 turkeys a year, and I've done it every way except on my head (and I'm not sure I won't do it that way someday). I know that there's more than one way to roast a turkey, but I have found each of these well-known methods to have serious drawbacks. My goal is to serve a golden brown, moist turkey with rich roasted flavor, not one that is pale, soggy or dry. I recommend my easy recipe for Perfect Roast Turkey in favor of any of these methods. If I've knocked your favorite way to cook a turkey, forgive me -- but please try my way before you throw any brickbats in my direction.

No-Way #1: Never roast your turkey overnight in a low oven (that means any temperature less than 325 degrees F). The overnight method is almost guaranteed to ensure that your family spends the holiday together -- in the emergency room.

No-Way #2: Don't bother to roast the turkey upside-down. It might help to keep the breast area moist (I'm not convinced), but I can guarantee you that it is a really pain to turn a hot, slippery turkey right-side up.

No-Way #3: In my humble opinion, deep-fried turkey is a waste of time -- you can't stuff the bird, and you can't make gravy because there's no pan drippings. There is a reliable, detailed recipe in Thanksgiving 101 that I stand by. Beware of the countless short recipes on the Web -- they leave out a lot of important tips.

No-Way #4: The cheesecloth method doesn't really accomplish much unless you do it carefully. I usually end up with the cheesecloth glued to the turkey skin. If you want to try this method, to avoid sticking, be sure to brush the turkey well with melted butter and soak the cheesecloth in melted butter, too. Let the ends of the cheesecloth drape into the bottom of the pan so they will soak the drippings up over the bird.

No-Way #5: The "put the turkey in a brown bag" method isn't recommended, because it is difficult to find large brown bags that haven't been recycled with harmful toxins that should not be heated in a oven.

No-Way #6: Foil-wrapped turkey is certainly easy, but the turkey tastes steamed, not roasted.

No-Way #7: I think those oven-roasting bags should be outlawed. I think they make pale, anemic turkeys that taste like canned turkey meat.

No-Way #8: Don't sprinkle the bird with paprika. It's supposed to enhance browning, but it's really unnecessary and could scorch and give the skin a burned flavor. If you roast the bird at 325 degrees F for the times recommended by most manufacturers, you will have a beautifully browned bird.

No-Way #9: Never stuff the bird the night before roasting. If you want to save time, cook the "fresh" ingredients (onions, celery, sausage) the night before and refrigerate them in resealable bags. Reheat the ingredients in a large skillet before making the stuffing.

No-Way #10: Ice on the breast, forget it! Waste of ice and your time. Use that ice for a cold one or a glass of your grandmothers sweet ice tea.

Here's a "maybe" method: Brine-soaked turkey is getting a lot of press lately, and it's a good method. But only if you have enough refrigerator space to hold a big vat of brine and the turkey overnight.


  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,523
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
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  • this is hardly spam, just trying to help out those in need of direction for Thanksgiving Day Turkey!
  • well, you had me on 1 - 9. ..but i'm a firm believer in 10. .. has worked for me for 20 years now. . .

    one thing i don't see in this post is this great method you mention. .. where is it??
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    When I used to wet-brine I would use a 5 gallon bucket set inside a cooler topped off with ice out in the garage. Real easy to keep it under 40* for 3 days that way.
  • Little ChefLittle Chef Posts: 4,725
    I still brine...and always will. We use a Home Depot orange (round) water you see on the back of contractors trucks. I add the brine, the bird, and a bag of ice, and good to go!!! (even in the Florida weather) I brine not only my turkeys, but all poultry and pork, to include chops and roasts. (never brined a butt though....hmmm...might have to do an experiment!) :laugh:
  • mkcmkc Posts: 540
    Fidel wrote:
    When I used to wet-brine I would use a 5 gallon bucket set inside a cooler topped off with ice out in the garage.

    We use a "homer bucket", the orange cooler from Home Depot, which fits perfectly in DH's undercounter beer fridge in his shop.
    Egging in Denton, Texas

    above is the link for Rick's Perfect Roast Turkey with Best-Ever Gravy

    I am not spamming by any meanor trying to offend anyone's "reliable methods"

    I personally have followed rick's recipe/steps on about 6 birds.... all turned out great!

    I brine as well from time to time - I might have to try that suggestion Little Chef..... sounds like it could turn out pretty good!!
  • if you've read the mad max turkey method, you'll see that its not all that different from what you describe. ...except that by icing the breasts, you guarantee that they won't dry out and you can achieve 180 in the thighs while only going 160 or so in the breasts. ... i know of know other way to achieve separate temps in two parts of the same bird unless you deconstuct ala julia child. . .and his gravy making is very similar. ..a classic gravy making description. ...
  • are you rick rodgers?

    he says he's done 50 birds a year and yet you say you've done 6.

    i'm just doing the math, and it looks like you have done six birds, all his way. have you tried doing the things he's saying not to do? meaning: have you iced the breasts and found it didn't work, or are you saying RICK tried it, and says it doesn';t work.

    big difference.

    no offense, just saying... your directly clipping this off another website implies that YOU have done 50 birds a year and have found this method through trial and error, but beneath it all it seems you're really just a devotee of the one method (which you've done six times) and are quoting it here verbatim

    viz:>> Will The Real Rick Rodgers Please Stand Up
  • stripsteak is one cool cat....... welcome to the intranetz ;).... people copy stuff off websites and post on another..... are you going to grade me on citing my sources? please do... no offense, just saying....

    never said i was rick rodgers, and I will never be him... big difference!!

    FYI - i have tried quite a few different ways to cook birds, ended up makin quite a few of the mistakes that are mentioned. I have cooked 6 turkey's Rick's way and have had tremendous success..... I have never cooked or will ever cook 60 turkey's in a year (but i could cook 60 strip steaks in one year easily)

    not devoted to any one way either..... thanks for the attention and slams Mr Bean
  • EGGARYEGGARY Posts: 1,222
    Are you an EGGer ?
  • PhilsGrillPhilsGrill Posts: 2,256
    I agree with all except #7. Before we got the Egg, we used those Turkey bags and they worked perfect! Moist juicy turkey with perfect dark skin every time.
  • EGGARYEGGARY Posts: 1,222
    Martha Stewart does the Cheesecloth version.
  • Thanks for the tips, happy thanksgiving….And welcome aboard the Egghead spaceship MrGobbler :) .
    For what it’s worth, I’ve tried the roasting bags and the cheesecloth. I had success with neither!
    As for the on the “grill”…I have done more birds on my old Webber Kettle (had it for 25 years) then on the Egg, but I’ve only had the Egg for a bit over 2 years.
    I’ve got to say that indirect on the Egg gives a whole new meaning (at least for me) to indirect cooking! I also need to sing a praise or two that the Egg does a much better job of keeping the turkey (chicken or what ever) moist and imparts a much nicer flavor than I ever was able to get roasting in the steel kettle B) .
  • Yes - I am an EGGer..... been using it since 1999
  • .
    SPAM How???
    I don't see a pitch for any products, websites, ...
    Just one person's well organized opinions on a timely cooking subject.
  • HungryManHungryMan Posts: 3,470
    My old meat connection told me he brined butts. I tried it once, but not long enough. I think thats why I didn't notice a difference.
  • HungryManHungryMan Posts: 3,470
    I have heard not to put stuffing in the bird for safety issues. The past few years I stopped doing it. I did it for several years prior and never got sick. The best tasting stuffing was what came out of the bird.
  • roosterrooster Posts: 252
    Looks like you opened a can of worms to go with the turkey tips!!!!
  • Little Chef wrote:
    I still brine...and always will. We use a Home Depot orange (round) water you see on the back of contractors trucks. I add the brine, the bird, and a bag of ice, and good to go!!! (even in the Florida weather) I brine not only my turkeys, but all poultry and pork, to include chops and roasts. (never brined a butt though....hmmm...might have to do an experiment!) :laugh:

    LittleChef and MKC, how long would you brine a bird - so many hours or days per pound? I bought a kosher turkey to try it out this year, so I don't need to brine it, but I've been struggling with easy methods for brining. I've used dry brining, adding the salt before I freeze a homegrown chicken or goose; in theory it brines itself as it thaws, but I'm not sure how well that really works. I have never been able to find a bag that's strong enough not to leak, short of buying a bag specifically for that purpose. I really like the idea of the water cooler!
  • You don't need a refrigerator big enough to hold a giant vat of brine and turkey if it's cold outside, FWIW....
    The Naked Whiz
  • Around here it's usually in the fifties at this time of year. Makes it hard to hang deer, too! I love the orange water cooler idea, though.
  • look, i was just calling for clarification is all. you never said you were rick riodger's, but your post sure reads as though you wrote the thing.

    you posted that you had cooked 50 turkeys a year.... not me.

    i have a massive **** detector, and it just happened to go off when reading your post, sorry.

    next time, just be a little more clear, m'kay? you landed here, and your first post was to tell us all how everything we do is wrong (re: turkey anyway). then you say "well, i didn't write it, i just clipped it from the 'net".

    we welcome contributions here, and get a lot. so tend to think when someone posts something that they actually developed it themselves.

    thanks for admitting that you are an expert at, not turkey, but control-C and control-V

    can't wait for the tutorial on ribs. i am an expert on ribs. i'll post it shortly. give me a second to go copy one i find online...
  • Thank you for the post. I agree with all but the icing of the breast.

    Please don't be put off by the hostility on this board. It used to be a friendly place, now it is just very cliquish and unfriendly. I see the first line in your post is the reference to the originating source.
  • 2Fategghead2Fategghead Posts: 9,623
    MrGobbler101, Welcome to the EggHeadForum

    My name is Tim and I come to this forum to get help using my Big Green Egg. While I help others on occasion I have only been around less than a year. I have also met several of these other members that have been around a lot longer than I have. I have read a lot of posts from these members that use this forum quite often and I intend to try their methods and then interject with them afterwards. This is my learning process because here is where I can interact with my mentors. Happy Holidays :) Just my two cents
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    You must not have many coons or possums nearby.
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    I agree. We're all a bunch of self-centered unfriendly and unhelpful egotistical ****.

    Thanks for playing.
  • RVHRVH Posts: 523
    Fidel wrote:
    I agree. We're all a bunch of self-centered unfriendly and unhelpful egotistical ****.

    Hey! I'm not egotistical!!....
  • i'm not self-centered either, but i think he was talking about me.

    and i'm not egotistical, but if i were, i would be pretty damn good at it.
  • mkcmkc Posts: 540
    RiverRat wrote:

    LittleChef and MKC, how long would you brine a bird - so many hours or days per pound?

    Hi Leslie,

    I used the one of the older Cook's Illustrated proportions of 2 cups Morton Kosher Salt to 2 gallons water for a 12-14 hour (overnight) brine. Cook's also had a few other versions over the years that use higher salt concentrations for shorter brine times or lower concentrations for longer times (especially helpful if you have a mega-turkey, I usually do 12-18 pound birds).

    If you use Diamond Kosher or table salt you need to adjust the amount of salt since the crystal sizes are different.
    Egging in Denton, Texas
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