Bad to the De-bone!

“What is that?”  This was the question from my family this Thanksgiving as I readied the turkey for the oven. This year, the turkey preparation wasn’t very traditional.  Instead of roasting the turkey whole on the bone. I decided to de-bone and trussed two turkeys.  Why would I do this? Well knowing we would be hosting twenty-four family members I wanted the task of preparing and serving the turkey to be as easy as I could make it.

“How did you do that?”  Was the other question that kept being asked by family members.  With a straight face, I said, “I purchasing hand-raised turkeys that were bred without bones”; which ended with me busting out laughing.

Reflecting on the questions my family asked, I realized that most people don’t know you can de-bone poultry or even how to.  Skills I take for granted and suppose everyone one must know how to do. It brought home the realization that there are knowledge and skills about cooking and baking that I have accrued over the years that have become second nature to me.  And this is the reason I’ve become a teacher and why I started this blog. To share what I have learned over the years, so when it comes time for you to tackle a cooking or baking project you’ll have newfound knowledge and skills to help you along the way.

The problem with roasting a whole bone-in turkey is the shape.  The shape of the turkey leads to uneven roasting.  A turkey is usually roasted breast up or is started with the breast down and then flipped at some point during the roasting process, which can be a messy and dangerous procedure.

Beyond having a turkey that was easy to serve.  My true goal was to is to produce a succulent, juicy, tender, and golden-brown turkey.  With the white meat retaining all the best qualities along with the dark meat.  So why does de-boning a turkey do all of these things?  We are back to shape.  By removing all the bones, evening out the thickness of the breast and thigh meat, seasoning the meat, shaping, trussing, and sewing the de-boned turkey, seasoning the skin, and letting rest overnight as to dry brine the turkey.  The shape and thickness of the turkey are now even.  Allowing for even roasting and browning.  The height of the roasting pan is important too.  Using a half-sheet baking pan fitted with a cooling rack the turkey can be surrounded with even heat in the oven while roasting.  The final step is to start the roasting process at a higher temperature of 450°F (232°C) for 20 minutes, then reducing the temperature to 325°F (162°C) for 2-½ to 3 hours or until the turkey breast and thigh meat reads an internal temperature of 160°F (171°C), turning the oven back up to 400°F (204°C) for the last 15 minutes to deeply brown the skin.  Removing the roasted turkey from the oven and tenting it with aluminum foil (I like Reynolds Heavy Duty Wrap) and let rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

So the next time you are thinking of roasting a chicken, duck, goose, or turkey.  Remember you too can be, “Bad to the De-Bone.”

5 thoughts on “Bad to the De-bone!

  1. Doc

    I stumbled over a video some months ago, where Jaques Pepin deboned a chicken and stuffed it with onions and spinach. I followed his example, however I stuffed the bird with bread cubes, onions and boletus mushrooms (Porcini). I salted the bird in a 10% brine for three hours. Spread the stuffing, truss it. Jaque calls this a “Poulet en Saucisse”, a chicken sausage. so to say. At 190 ° C it will be crispy brown and the meat will be succulent and tasty.
    I cooked it four times so far – one chicken of 1800 grams is good for 6 people and some cold cuts for breakfast. Goes great with a sauce gribiche or a sauce Hollandaise.
    Turkey is not the tradfitional poultry in Germany, so I am thinking of preparing a goose or a duck for the holidays.

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Doc, It is my pleasure to meet you. Learning to debone poultry is a valuable skill. I just love how you practiced the process and the recipe you learned from Jaque Pepin. You can apply this technique to duck or goose with wonderful results. I like to roast the duck bones with onions, carrots, and celery and then make a rich stock that can be turned into an amazing reduction to serve with your roasted deboned duck. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your experience with us. Have a great day!
      P.S. Germany is one of my favorite places to visit.

  2. Brooke Unverferth

    I received a text on Sunday from a guest that was at my Deboned Turkey dinner on Saturday and who had taken home leftovers. “There is nothing better than getting through a chunk of turkey without accidentally crunching a bone. I love you. :-)” I seriously can’t wait to do it again!! It’s the best way to cook a turkey for sure, and Alejandro, I am SO grateful!

  3. mariaevanarman

    The best turkey I’ve ever had!! Everyone needs to try this, I promise, you’ll never cook a whole turkey again.

    1. aramon65

      Know, If you don’t want to tackle de-boning the turkey yourself. Find a local butcher who will do it for you! Otherwise practice on a chicken to learn, remembering a turkey has a few extra bones and tendons in the legs that need to be removed too. Thanks for the comment Maria!

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