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Sunday, June 27, 2010

roasting a turkey outdoors vs. frying

I decided to try my hand at roasting turkey outdoors, in the ultimate turkey roaster, a large dutch oven with a cone in the center.

This dutch oven is marketed as a healthy alternative to turkey frying, which it is. This is my review, in comparison to what the company claims-- Which isn't too off base, mind you.

First they claim it's much healthier, which is a given. Roasted is always healthier than fried.

Next, they claim that you don't have to spend 50 bucks on peanut oil. Also right on target. You don't have to buy oil at all, but you should spray generously with Pam, being cast iron.

And since there's no oil, you don't have to carefully measure the amount of oil, nor do you have to wait for the oil to heat up when cooking. So setup is much faster, not to mention safer.

With the roaster, you can use dry rubs and seasonings, as opposed to only injectable marinades when frying.

Now here's where my opinion differs: Cleanup being easier. True, you don't have to wait for the oil to dry and then recycle it. But, "Just use warm water and a washcloth," my foot!!

It took a lot more than warm water and a washcloth-- it took SEVERAL runs of HOT water and a steel wool pad! (Not one with detergent; You can't use detergent on cast iron). And cleaning out my sink each time I emptied the water.

I finally decided to boil water in it, which made it easier to clean. Next time I'll do that initially.

They claim that the taste of fried turkey is GOOD, while outdoor roasted turkey is FANTASTIC. I say the other way around: Fried turkey is fantastic, albeit bad for you; Outdoor roasted turkey is good.

A couple of things I should have done differently:

The instructions said to calibrate the thermometer, which I did not do, so I didn't know that the thermometer reads 10 degrees less than the actual temperature. For example, if it says 160 degrees it's really 170 degrees.

Secondly, the instructions said to add 1/2 cup of liquid 30 minutes into roasting to prevent burning; so I added 1/2 cup every 15 minutes as an extra precaution-- and also I didn't want it to be dry.

The result was a "steamed" turkey as opposed to roasted. Which made it very very moist I must say. Very moist... but someone pointed out, "It tastes steamed, not roasted". Which isn't necessarily bad, but next time I'll only use a 1/2 cup after 30 minutes*.

*Actually, I did that the next time, and it still came out "steamed."

And third, I need to learn how to inject marinades into the breast meat. The breast was very moist which is a plus, but not very flavorful, as breast meat is very hard to make flavorful. The steaming washed off much of the spices I had rubbed it with.

The problem is, most marinades are "cajun" and I really don't want a cajun turkey-- I want a traditional roasted "butter and poultry seasoning" turkey. Apparently you can inject melted butter mixed with poultry seasoning into the breast, so I'm going to practice on roasted chickens in the coming months.

I wouldn't say I prefer one method over the other, they both have their plus and minus, although I did like not having to spend $$ on oil.

I would say that this is very similar to "The Big Easy", a contraption marketed as an "oil-less infrared turkey fryer." Which really isn't a "fryer" at all; It's an outdoor roaster.

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