Saturday, December 29, 2012

Turkey in an Electric Roaster. . .How Hard Could it Be?

Yep, this is the one, from
This past Thanksgiving, I was at home in Ohio and assisted (kinda) my mother with the preparation. Mom has a manse, but her kitchen oddly only has one oven. But she solved the riddle of how to do a complete Thanksgiving dinner with just the one: an electric roaster. I watched as Mom took her thawed turkey out of the fridge, dropped it into a floured plastic oven bag, put a big pat of butter on Tom, popped him into the roaster and shut the lid. Three hours later, voila! Perfect, moist turkey!

I was inspired to buy one of those roasters for The Other Half this Christmas. Got it at a steep discount, no tax and no shipping from Amazon. Sweet! More than once, we'd wished we had a second oven. And more than once we didn't want to use the oven, because we didn't want to heat up the house. So an electric roaster was a perfect gift. I had to explain why it was a perfect gift when it was unwrapped, but it was well received (even by the cat).

What could go wrong?
Three days ago, I put one of our bargain frozen turkeys in the fridge to thaw, with the intent of trying the roaster today. Unfortunately, the bird was still semi-frozen this afternoon, but we fixed that with a brine bath. No problem! So, we floured the bag, preheated the roaster, put the bird in with a butter pat and lowered the rack into the roaster. . .and the bag grazed both sides of the pan and melted. Quick! Back out and onto the counter. No problem, we'll just scrub off the plastic, and figure something out.

I'd pondered this issue when I saw "don't use plastic oven bags" in the instructions, but Mom assured me it was fine. I'd pondered it again when I saw in the bag instructions that you can't let the bag touch the sides, bottom, lid or rack (what the hell else it could touch, who knows), but if you can't trust your Mom, who can you trust? Besides, it's an oven bag, and not a cheapie, but one from Reynolds. Touching the sides was 100% unavoidable given the 20-pound bird's size (the oven allegedly will hold a 24-pounder). Didn't matter. 325 degrees and the bastard melted on. And it wasn't scrubbing off either, no sir. I even tried burning it off with a butane lighter. Nothing. No dice.
Hmmm. Says "oven" and "turkey" right on the box.
I honestly have no idea how other people
manage to do this.

Ultimately, we decided to take the roaster onto the patio, plug it in, and run it on high--empty--for half an hour. We removed the (ruined) plastic bag, coated the bird with olive oil and pepper, put it on the rack, popped it into the roaster--still on the patio--at full temperature for half an hour. I'd seen that part in one of the online suggestions. Then, I dropped the temperature back to 325 for the rest of its time. As I type this, it is still out there with about half an hour to go.

The cat takes the roaster for a spin.
Will it smell or taste of roasted plastic? I guess it might, but I hope not. Will the roasting pan have a permanent splotch of plastic on two sides? I'm guessing it will at least leave a mark. I honestly wonder what good an oven bag is if it melts instantly. Do people put Turkeys in a glass dish in the roaster or something? I honestly don't get it. But my easy breezy solution turned out to be anything but. After I bring the sucker in, and assuming that goes without surprises or injury, I will update this post. Cross your fingers for me.

Not bad, right?
UPDATE: I brought the roaster in, and despite a sore back and a generally klutzy nature (not to mention hearing the fat inside sizzle as it jostled), I got the roaster into the kitchen and onto the counter without incident. Turkey Lurkey's thermometer popped, and he's a nice golden brown. He's kind of all loosey goosey too, but smells delicious. It's difficult to see (The Other Half is asleep, and I can't really turn up the lights), but the plastic may have steamed off, and down into the fat. I hope so. Of course, then it's probably permeated the whole bird, and I'll get cancer and die. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, it looks lovely.

UPDATE II:  The turkey was moist and delicious, no issues with a plasticky taste or anything. And it turns out that the plastic did mostly disappear on one side, but not on the other (where there had been more contact). In addition to open flame, I've tried scrubbing with a sponge, a metal scrubby, a plastic spatula, a metal spatula, I tried freezing it, and I tried broiling it. Nothing. My next try may be to either put it on the barbeque grill, or put it in the oven and set it on "clean." Either thing could possibly ruin the pan, but I'm that desperate! And Googling was no help either. If you happened to find this post and know how to get a cooking bag's melted corpse off of a roasting pan, please let me know!

UPDATE III: I took the racks out of our gas range, put the roasting pan insert into the oven, closed the door and set it to "clean." Problem solved.

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