Thanksgiving post-mortem

I made the Russ Parsons turkey, my third year in a row. This time I put the thermometer in the breast, took it out of the oven at 150º and let it rest 20 minutes, per the advice of one of the contributors on the Thanksgiving advice articles. Didn't work! We all ate the soup and the salad and when it came to carve the turkey, I removed the legs and started to remove the wings: it was undercooked at that joint and had to go back in the oven while guests waited! I cranked up the oven and we chatted ("have more wine, everyone") and waited about 15-20 minutes. Never happened to me before! Luckily we're all old friends and everyone was patient. I'll leave it to 160 in the breast next time... I should add that in previous years I used a digital thermometer, which was dead when I went to open the box Thanksgiving morning. Could the old manual thermometer have been inaccurate??

  • Posted by: creamtea
  • November 28, 2014


sydney November 29, 2014
I 'eyeball' it without a thermometer and these two 'checks' have always worked, no matter the turkey size/recipe/shape: 1, If you poke deep into a breast and the juice runs clear, not pink; and 2, If the meat has pulled away from the bones where visible.
Pegeen November 28, 2014
I need a Thanksgiving post-mortem on myself. For the first time in a while, I destroyed a pie crust. Not really my fault: the food processor had a nervous breakdown, stopped pulsing and just kept grinding, and I didn't have enough time or butter to make a new crust by hand and also get my other dinner assignments completed. This taught me something: always have whatever KEY thing you're supposed to bring, store-bought, on standby, if it's dinner for a very big group (20+ people). It was nerve-wracking to have to run to the store on Thanksgiving Day, praying they would have a couple decent apple pies left. Thank You God, they did. And my other dishes were fine. But it was not fun at all to watch a pie crust go to hell. And no, it was not possible to make it the day before. :-) Honestly, I am grateful for many things. But glad it's over! Now on to December...
Susan W. November 28, 2014
I have a little routine that I use when I roast a turkey or chicken. It works for me whether spatchcocked or not. I take it out when the breast is 150. I take the temp of the thickest part of the thigh. If it isn't 160, I pop the legs off and either throw them back in the oven or sometimes I finish them on the stovetop in the pan with the drippings while the breast is resting. It only takes 5-10 minutes at the most on the stovetop.

After typing all that, I just realized it was undercooked at the wing joint. I'm thinking your thermometer was off. I use an instant read and recalibrate it before roasting a big bird.
creamtea November 28, 2014
Thanks Susan. I had cut off the legs and wings to carve so I felt the roast would at least finish more quickly without them. I may need a new digital. I only used it on Thanksgiving and I could pretty much go anywhere, take a shower, etc., with the receiver and know what temp the roast was at. Taking two temp at two locations makes sense. Turkeys (and chickens) are bred to be top heavy, most weight is in the breast section, not the thigh, so the old advice to probe only the thickest part of the thigh is no longer valid, probably.
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