Solving The Poultry Paradox
Any approach to dealing with the Poultry Paradox requires slowing down the cooking of the breast meat so that the thigh meat can cook fully without the breast meat becoming overcooked.
Suggestions range from fashioning heat reflectors out of aluminum foil, thereby keeping the breast regions cool, to using ice packs to chill the breasts before roasting the turkey, thus giving the thigh meat a head start on cooking.
The problem with these solutions isn't that they won't work; they probably will — at least a little. The real trouble is that these remedies are nearly as inconvenient as the problems they are meant to solve.
One technique I've tried is to cook the turkey in two stages. First, I roast the bird until the breast is fully cooked, then take it out of the oven, carve the breasts off and return it to the oven again.
While the dark meat continues cooking, I serve the white meat. Then I take the bird out again and serve the dark meat when it's done. As you can see, still not terribly convenient. Plus, the effect of presenting the fully cooked turkey, sans
breasts, definitely leaves something to be desired.
Here are some alternatives to roasting a conventional supermarket turkey:
1. Debone The Turkey
If you want to simplify things, and get as close as possible to the hypothetical cube of turkey meat we discussed earlier, you can debone the turkey
before roasting it. Doing this allows you to truss the bird
tightly — condensing it, basically — which shortens cooking time and reduces the temperature differential between the outer and inner regions.
2. Roast A Whole Turkey Breast
If you're not up for the deboning, you can purchase a boneless turkey roast that essentially accomplishes the same thing. White-meat fans can also opt for roasting a whole turkey breast
, which solves the Poultry Paradox by eliminating everything but the white meat from the equation. It may not be a perfect cube, but it's the next best thing.
3. Roast A Kosher Turkey
are known to be more flavorful than ordinary ones. Part of the koshering process involves covering the interior and exterior of the freshly slaughtered turkey carcass with kosher salt
, followed by a thorough rinsing. This is done to remove every last bit of blood from the carcass, but it also has the effect of seasoning the meat and making it tastier.
4. Grill A Turkey
Still another solution is to dispense with roasting altogether and cook your turkey on the grill
instead. The only catch here is that grilling
only works for smaller turkeys, with 12 pounds being the ideal weight.
5. Try A Heritage Turkey
If you don't mind paying a bit more for slightly smaller turkey, a heritage turkey
might be something to consider. Heritage turkeys are special breeds of turkey that are raised more slowly than Broad-Breasted Whites, have less breast meat and are generally better suited for longer, slower cooking — all of which translates into a more moist, flavorful turkey.
6. Roast Two Chickens Instead
Seriously. Two 8-pound roasting chickens can feed 8 to 12 people. In many ways, this is the perfect solution to the Poultry Paradox. Chickens are great candidates for roasting, and unlike roasting a turkey breast or cooking your turkey on the grill, roasting a chicken still lets you make a classic pan gravy
. Here's a basic tutorial on how to roast a chicken
7. Brine the Turkey and Roast it Slowly
So this is not really an alternative. But if you're going to roast a whole turkey — possibly a heritage or Kosher turkey as mentioned above — this is the way to do it. Brining the turkey adds flavor and moisture, and roasting it slowly ensures that it won't dry out. Check out this Roast Turkey Recipe