We ended up with an extra large bird. How do you cook such a huge bird?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Lelilamom, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

    355
    19
    111
    Feb 28, 2013
    So we ended up with a 44 lb and a 42 lb Turkey today. Now what? They are in Brine for 24 hours and one will go in the fridge and one will go in the freezer.

    How in the world do we cook these huge birds? We never expected them to get this big. We've read all sorts of charts saying from 7 to 12 hours. I've read open pan method, I've read stuffed and unstuffed, I've read by temp not by time. I'm completely confused now and I've been cooking the Turkey for our family's Thanksgiving for 10+ years.

    Anyone have any advice on when I should start cooking such a large Turkey for Thanksgiving?
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. phoenixrises

    phoenixrises Out Of The Brooder

    54
    2
    43
    May 20, 2013
    I worry about it being way to overdone on the outside and the inside still wouldn't be cooked, even unstuffed. We decided to cut up our large one for other meals and then eat our slightly smaller 25 lber. Slow and steady wins the race, and I would expect the skin would be near inedibble with you long it would have to be cooked.

    At the end of the day I have zero experience with a bird that big. Hope others can help!
     
  3. AmericanMom

    AmericanMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,817
    241
    188
    Aug 10, 2013
    Oregon
    Its probably to big to go into one of the Reynolds cooking bags...Have you thought of cutting it up? Thats more than likely what i would try and do and lay it flat into a couple of those bags... Not to sure on cooking time though, may have to check it with a therm after the first couple hours
     
  4. LeslieDJoyce

    LeslieDJoyce Overrun With Chickens

    3,675
    475
    283
    Jul 30, 2012
    Sherwood, OR
    My Coop
    Don't panic! It will cook a LOT faster than you think. Don't stuff it. Use a thermometer. Let it rest before you carve. Have flexible dining hour or a way to keep the bird warm while the rest of the meal catches up. Wrapped in foil and towels works.

    I make a turtleneck for my biggest roasting pan out of aluminum foil so the cooking juices are contained. Sturdy aluminum foil, arranged very carefully to direct the drippings. I also have had to take out the upper element for safety ... Be careful with this if you try it. And cover the bits of skin if they start to get too brown.

    Enjoy!
     
  5. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    16,711
    532
    408
    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    x2

    You can still use the estimated roasting time for your big bird. HOwever, I like to use a slower oven on the very large especially to help for more even cooking times over the whole bird. COver with foil once nicely browned to prevent over browning the skin. I roast a stuffed BBW overnight; for unstuffed I start it early in the morning. based on the calculations. About 5 am.

    If you stuff the bird,, make the stuffing mix very moist so I doen't suck the juice out of the bird. I heard that stuffing pulls out moisture on a morning talk show this week and I figure that must be why my mother always made a very wet stuffing.

    GOod luck -- take pictures and let us know how it turned out!!
     
  6. LeslieDJoyce

    LeslieDJoyce Overrun With Chickens

    3,675
    475
    283
    Jul 30, 2012
    Sherwood, OR
    My Coop
    I don't think the time charts work for a big bird ...

    My first 40 lb turkey cooked in about 4 hours ... unstuffed ... which was a huge surprise. We cooked it at about the 325 LOWEST SAFE roasting temperature (though my oven runs a little hot and I don't have a thermometer in there so I can't vouch for the exact temps). Then we rested it for a good amount of time while we transported it to the place where we ate ... we made sure it was very well insulated during the drive and it did not cool (checked with a thermometer, no guessing) ... resting makes for a juicier bird. The meat was falling-off-the bone tender, juicy and flavorful ... the skin was gorgeous roasted brown. The charts suggest a 24 lb store-bought bird will take about 6 hours unstuffed, so people worry that a 40 lb bird will take 12 hours. But thankfully that's not how it works.

    The large inner cavity of a huge bird helps the oven heat reach the meat for more even cooking so the outside doesn't dry before the inside is cooked. That's one reason we don't stuff our big birds ... they cook faster and more evenly and SAFER if they are empty. Just coat the inside and outside of the bird with your butter/herb blend, using plenty of salt. And maybe put some cut up onion and garlic in the bird's cavity. That's it.

    Also, the stuffing inside a big bird can be a health issue ...

    Slow roasting at low temps is risky ...

    Here is a link to an article about how NOT to cook a turkey ...http://busycooks.about.com/od/thanksgiving/a/unsafeturkeymet.htm
     
  7. LeslieDJoyce

    LeslieDJoyce Overrun With Chickens

    3,675
    475
    283
    Jul 30, 2012
    Sherwood, OR
    My Coop
    A word about Brining Bags ... You don't want to use just any bag for brining your bird, you want to make sure the bag is food grade. Ziploc sells Big Bags that are food safe. I did not see any indication that the bags were food safe on the packaging or the website information, so I called their product help line to verify ...

    As always, it is still a good idea to call the manufacturer of Ziploc big bags to make sure their products are still safe.
     
  8. TamTurkey

    TamTurkey Chillin' With My Peeps

    251
    4
    98
    Oct 17, 2012
    Texas
    Brine in a cooler to keep it from drying out (add some sugar to offset the salt). Rinse it then season wrap it loosely in foil and put that big bird on the pit and smoke it! i'm from Texas we think everything should be BBQed or Fried lol!

    Have a wonderful thanksgiving!
     
  9. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    16,711
    532
    408
    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I'm sorry I was not clear.

    A bird needs to be thoroughly cooked thru. THouroughly. Use a thermometer. Stuff the bird right before going in the oven. DO not stuff and then put in frig to wait. MUST go into the oven immediately. I bake at 250 degrees and get great results. I roast until the legs are very wiggly which apparently is longer than most folks.

    I am a stickler for food safety. THe stuffing must read a specific temp when measuring the thigh and breast, and the stuffing.

    I have never roasted a big BBW in 4 hours even at 325. . . . a stuffed bird takes overnight . .
     
  10. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

    355
    19
    111
    Feb 28, 2013
    Thank you everyone for the feedback. We brined in a cooler for 48 hours and the bird is in the fridge now. All rigor is out and the bird is tender. We have a flexible time of around 1 PM, I'm putting it in the oven around 7 AM. I'm figuring 5 hours, resting for at least an hour. If it comes out at 1, we'll eat at 2 PM. I'm not stuffing it.

    Thanks again!

    I'll post pics!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by