[lit-ideas] Re: Physics, Philosophy, Turkey, Urban Myth

  • From: david ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 10:25:17 -0800

America's test kitchen thinks the issue is dryness and juices:

Thirty minutes seems like a long time to rest the turkey after roasting. Is it really necessary?

Yes. Resting allows for the redistribution and reabsorption of the juices in the meat. This makes for ultramoist, flavorful meat while also giving the bird a chance to cool for easier carving. Skip this step and you’ll both burn yourself and end up with a flood of juices on your carving board, not to mention dry turkey. To get an idea of how much juice is lost by slicing the meat too soon, we roasted six skin-on turkey breasts and weighed them. We sliced three straight from the oven and waited 30 minutes to slice the others. On average, we found that the rested turkeys weighed 2 to 3 percent more than the unrested turkeys, which translates to a great deal of juice saved. Plan on a 30-minute rest for most birds and up to 40 minutes for very large birds.

The Splendid Table thinks the issue is tissue relaxing and juices, which have "raced to the center of the roast" and now defy gravity by osmosis or something:

Remove turkey from oven and place in a warm spot, free of drafts, to finish roasting as it rests for 20 to 30 minutes. The internal temperature will rise about 1 degree a minute for at least 15 minutes, and will continue to rise, although more slowly thereafter. During this time the tissues relax, becoming more tender, and, more importantly, the juices which have raced to the center of the roast will redistribute to the outside regions of the roast, making it uniformly succulent. Don't curtail this resting step, or you risk serving hard, dry, chewy outer bits and chewy inner sections that may not be fully cooked.

Waitrose--proving that the phenomenon is not American--continues the relaxing theme and adds succulence, but they suggest keeping a turkey warm while it rests:

Transfer the turkey to a warm serving dish, cover tightly with buttered foil then place one or two clean tea towels over the top. Leave to rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes (it will stay hot for up to 1 hour, wrapped in foil). Resting the turkey relaxes the meat, making it more succulent and easier to carve.

http://ezinearticles.com/?Tips-to-Preparing-to-Carve-Your- Thanksgiving-Turkey&id=91768

thinks that the issue is keeping the juices *in* the turkey:

Recommendation One: Remove the roasted turkey from the oven 20 minutes before you are ready to serve. The turkey will remain hot and this resting time will allow the juices to incorporate into the turkey meat. Otherwise the turkey juices will flow all over the platter.

Whole Foods market quotes the America's Test Kitchen paragraph, without attribution.

So there you have it. We must go cold turkey in order to be firm and avoid losing vital bodily fluids. It all goes back to "Dr. Strangelove." Who knew? In a trade-off between some amount of liquid spill while carving--you're going to make gravy anyway, right-- and eating hot food, I think it's an easy choice. And as for dryness--you simply cook the bird, as grandma taught you, in a number of positions, using gravity to prevent the "race to the center of the roast." But try telling that to anyone here.

David Ritchie
Portland, Oregon

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