After reading the Ultimate Turkey Recipe, and lamenting that the blowing snow meant I wouldn`t be firing up the Weber, I decided to apply the lessons learnt inside.
Dr. Greg Blonder measured the temps at different levels above the liquid in a 3″ tall pan of water.
Even though the oven was 325°F, the liquid never reached boiling temp in the time it took to cook a turkey. That’s because air is a lousy conductor of heat. Because the evaporation of water from the surface cools the liquid in the same way sweat cools us on a hot day, the temp of the gravy may never get above 175°F.
As you can see from the illustration, if the bird is below the lip of the pan and about 2″ above the gravy, the bottom of the bird is in 240°F high humidity air, 85°F cooler than the top of the bird which is chugging away nicely in dry heat. That’s why turkey backs are so often as flabby as an elephant’s.
Even if you lace the bird on a grate on the lip of the pan, the bottom will still be much cooler than the top and will almost certainly be undercooked.
The result is the mose tender and moist breast meat, and perfectly done dark meat. The gravy was fantastic after we reduced it down. The suggestion to pour some of it over the breast meat after carving is totally something to remember – as it moistens the meat.