As heard on "Everyday Food" with Sandy Gluck on Martha Stewart Living Radio

November 10, 2009

If you missed Stanley Lobel talking turkey with Sandy Gluck on Everyday Food today, here is Stanley's favorite Thanksgiving tip that he shared on the show.

The How and Why of Roasting a Turkey Breast-Side-Down

It's a common Thanksgiving Day complaint: The turkey breast came out too dry.

But, here's a sure-fire way to get the moistest white meat possible: Roast the turkey breast-side-down—or what some call upside-down.

By comparison, dark meat turkey contains more fat than white meat and, therefore, doesn't dry out. So when a turkey roasts the traditional breast-side-up way, the white meat's on top and the dark meat is on the bottom. The small amount of fat in the breast and skin renders as it roasts and winds up in the pan, thereby necessitating frequent basting to add as much moisture to the breast as possible.

When the turkey roasts breast-side-down, the dark meat is on top and the white meat is on the bottom so any fat that renders from the dark meat bastes the white meat as it cooks, making it moist and succulent.

There is a trade-off, however. Roasting upside-down essentially steams the turkey breast. Consequently, the breast-side skin will not be golden brown and crispy; it will remain soft and pale and should be removed and discarded before slicing and serving.

Here's how:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Clean and prepare the turkey as usual. Wash inside with water or lemon juice.
  3. Fill the cavity with stuffing, if desired.
  4. Coarsely chop 2–3 large onions and distribute evenly in the bottom of the roasting pan. The onions will add flavor to the pan juices, which in turn can be transformed into a delicious gravy.
  5. Place the turkey breast side down on the bed of onions, making sure the turkey is upright and stable.
  6. Tent the turkey with aluminum foil.
  7. Roast: unstuffed 13–17 minutes per pound; stuffed 15–20 minutes per pound.
  8. After 75% of the estimated cooking time, remove the foil tent.
  9. Turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer registers 180°F at the thigh and the juices run clear. If stuffed, the stuffing should register an internal temperature of 160°F.