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Roasting a Turkey

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  • Roasting a Turkey

    Hello All,

    Recently Forno Bravo posted someones method of roasting a Thanksgiving Turkey. I have a few questions on the technique. First here's what was written:

    now, at long last, we’re ready to cook. i put my turkey in the oven with my door thermometer reading about 450F. i also made sure to keep a small stick or two of wood smoldering in the back of the oven at all times to impart a nice smokey flavor to the meat. my finished bird had an assertive, but by no means overpowering, smokiness that everyone loved. after about 10 minutes, i rotated my bird 180 degrees. after 20 minutes, i already had nice color on the skin, so i tented the bird with the foil. this will allow your turkey to continue cooking while minimizing additional browning. if your bird hasn’t taken on sufficient color after 20 minutes, allow it to continue cooking uncovered until it gets where you want it. after you’ve tented your bird, allow it to continue roasting, rotating every half hour or so, until a thermometer inserted between the thigh and breast reads 160F. for my 12.5 pounder, my total cooking time was about 2.5 hours. by the end of cooking, my oven door thermo reading was hovering somewhere around 300F. remove your turkey from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.


    So this leads to my questions.
    1. I get my oven to 450 F and put my bird in. All I have is my insulated oven door and I was told NEVER to close my oven with a fire or coals burning inside. Could lead to some sort of major accident. So do I just put my oven door in my oven landing but not inserted all the way to keep some heat in? Should I prop it up a bit say 1/2" with some wedges on the bottom to allow airflow into the oven?
    2. It states that when the bird was done the oven was at 300F so does this mean I should not keep feeding the fire/coals to keep it at 450 F the whole time?

    Thanks in advance all !!! Happy Holidays !
    Last edited by K79; 11-25-2013, 07:53 AM.
    Link to my oven build on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujb7lqVcSzQ

  • #2
    Re: Roasting a Turkey

    Originally posted by K79 View Post
    All I have is my insulated oven door and I was told NEVER to close my oven with a fire or coals burning inside. Could lead to some sort of major accident. So do I just put my oven door in my oven landing but not inserted all the way to keep some heat in?

    Who told you this is dangerous? I do this all the time. How else can you put the fire out while retaining heat? Shouldn't be an issue unless your door is flammable

    I plan to cook my turkey in the oven, but will be getting it up to temp (600 or higher);putting the fire out; cleaning out coals; baking bread; then baking the turkey @ 350 or so.

    Also - fwiw, those directions don't make sense for browning the turkey. Usually you do that at the end to crisp the skin.

    Edit: note that baking something like a turkey with a live fire is very difficult. I wouldn't try it unless you have a lot of experience. It's much easier and more predictable to bake with retained heat. If you want to add a little smoke, get a tray of smoking chips and put it in for the first 20 minutes or so.
    Last edited by deejayoh; 11-25-2013, 10:01 AM.
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    • #3
      Re: Roasting a Turkey

      Originally posted by deejayoh View Post
      Who told you this is dangerous? I do this all the time. How else can you put the fire out while retaining heat? Shouldn't be an issue unless your door is flammable.
      I heard at one point that if you close your oven with a fire inside that when you open it and reintroduce oxygen that there's a potential for it to explode. Basically backdraft.
      Link to my oven build on YouTube:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujb7lqVcSzQ

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      • #4
        Re: Roasting a Turkey

        Originally posted by K79 View Post
        I heard at one point that if you close your oven with a fire inside that when you open it and reintroduce oxygen that there's a potential for it to explode. Basically backdraft.
        That could be true, if you close the door on a fully involved fire with a very large amount of unburned wood left inside. I don't know why someone would unless, they are trying to make lump charcoal. I haven't had a problem with closing it on a fire that has burned down to mostly red hot coals. I still open the door only a 1/2" or so, for just a few seconds before removing the door, though .
        Last edited by Gulf; 11-25-2013, 11:33 AM.
        I don't care what folks say behind my back........They are either braggin' or.......lyin'


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        • #5
          Re: Roasting a Turkey

          Originally Posted by K79 View Post
          I heard at one point that if you close your oven with a fire inside that when you open it and reintroduce oxygen that there's a potential for it to explode. Basically backdraft.

          Originally posted by Gulf View Post
          That could be true, if you close the door on a fully involved fire with a very large amount of unburned wood left inside. I don't know why someone would unless, they are trying to make lump charcoal. I haven't had a problem with closing it on a fire that has burned down to mostly red hot coals. I still open the door only a 1/2" or so, for just a few seconds before removing the door, though .
          What happens in a backdraft situation is that combustibles produce flammable gases when in a hot environment with reduced/minimal oxygen. In an enclosed space, these gases build up and can ignite quite explosively when oxygen is introduced. Note that coals don't produce these gases nearly as much as unburned wood. A few coals at the end of a fire aren't a big deal, several unburned sticks of wood in the oven however can produce this unwelcome gas build up when heated and then starved for oxygen. Open the door a bit and you give that gas what it needs to ignite & burn explosively. A little smokey fire will give a lot of flavor to food (the pan of chips mentioned earlier is an excellent method) and you don't need to close the door completely if you've got a little fire going, there's a lot of heat coming from the bricks and the temp will maintain pretty well for cooking that tasty turkey! By the way, if you haven't tried the dry brine method you should!

          I've had two backdraft events since I build my oven in 2009. Once I put wood into the oven the day after a bread bake to dry it out for the next week's bake with the door open very slightly (no coals, just 250-300F). That was a little too hot and I didn't open the door quite enough. The next morning I noticed white smoke coming out of the chimney with little puffs. I pulled the door open just another inch and paused - 'cause my spidy sense was tingling. Sure enough, a couple seconds later there was a big whomp with a pretty good flame-throw from the oven. No damage...except for my shorts needing to be washed. The second time my firing door got some wood chips underneath and shifted forward when I left to go knead my bread. The door leaned forward enough to choke the fire I'd started. I didn't notice right away because it was early morning...but the next time I went to check on the oven I had the same white smoke with little puffs coming out the chimney. Yep, another backdraft - whomp & flame-throw...again, no damage- again, needed to change shorts - so I felt I was pretty lucky.

          I know we all have our own ways of doing things, but I won't ever leave any significant amount of wood in a moderately hot oven with a closed door. I always leave the door open an inch or two at night on my pre-heats and double/triple check that my overnight fire has enough draft to continue supporting flame throughout the evening.
          Last edited by SableSprings; 11-25-2013, 09:26 PM.
          Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
          Roseburg, Oregon ( www.sablesprings.com )

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          • #6
            Re: Roasting a Turkey

            Thanks SableSprings for the info!! So can I roast a turkey in my oven with the door completely out and a small fire to one side to keep the temp up? I need a thin door made for my oven specifically for this type of scenario, unfortunately all I have is my tight fitting thick insulated door.
            Link to my oven build on YouTube:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujb7lqVcSzQ

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            • #7
              Re: Roasting a Turkey

              Very interesting indeed. I have never heard of such a thing...and certainly never expirience any such thing. Thanks for the heads up.
              Happy Thanksgiving.

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              • #8
                Re: Roasting a Turkey

                I'm going to use some firebricks for a door I think.
                Link to my oven build on YouTube:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujb7lqVcSzQ

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                • #9
                  Re: Roasting a Turkey

                  They work good. Done that.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Roasting a Turkey

                    Originally posted by K79 View Post
                    ... I need a thin door made for my oven specifically for this type of scenario, unfortunately all I have is my tight fitting thick insulated door.
                    Have you experimented with just keeping your insulated door about 1/2 to 3/4" open? That would allow some air to keep a small fire going, but still help keep a large part of the radiant heat from escaping out the front.
                    I don't care what folks say behind my back........They are either braggin' or.......lyin'


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                    • #11
                      Re: Roasting a Turkey

                      Would a vent in the door be the answer ?

                      And re backdraft

                      what is the safest way to make lump charcoal in the oven?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Roasting a Turkey

                        Originally posted by TropicalCoasting View Post
                        And re backdraft

                        what is the safest way to make lump charcoal in the oven?
                        Open it in the morning... never had any problems when I waited until the next day.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Roasting a Turkey

                          Originally posted by K79 View Post
                          Thanks SableSprings for the info!! So can I roast a turkey in my oven with the door completely out and a small fire to one side to keep the temp up? I need a thin door made for my oven specifically for this type of scenario, unfortunately all I have is my tight fitting thick insulated door.
                          Although I think you could cook your turkey with a small side fire and the door off...it would involve a lot of fire maintenance to keep the cooking temp in a consistent range. In my earlier note, I meant you could leave the door ajar a couple of inches with a small, smokey fire going to provide some extra flavor to the bird. Removing the door completely means you'll be pulling a lot of cold air into the oven when you want to keep the oven hot. Hopefully you can just leave your door ajar a bit instead of pulling it out completely. My fire door is heavy & insulated, but I use it as a damper for my overnight fires by pulling it out on just one side a couple of inches.

                          Here's what I do for my Thanksgiving turkey.

                          I bring my oven up to temp, clean out the coals & ashes, close the fire door and let the oven equalize-usually takes about an hour. Once my oven temp is stable (shooting for 450-475F range), I put the turkey in (breast down) and close the fire door. I rotate the pan every 30 minutes or so, and turn the bird breast side up after the first hour. My 14-15 lbs of turkey takes between 2.5 and 3 hours to cook (with the door only open to turn/rotate/inspect). I will tent the bird and cover the drumsticks & wings with foil when they get that "almost perfect" brown. When the meat's up to 155-157F, I bring it from the oven to the house and pull the foil down tight over the whole bird. The meat's temp will continue to coast up to the 160F goal. Always let it rest for at least 45 minutes before carving...it will stay plenty hot and will be much juicer.

                          If I want a little smoke flavor, I add some wet hickory/apple/mesquite/whatever chips in a small aluminum pan. The pan goes in at the beginning-off to a side from the bird and I leave the fire door open an inch or so. The chips will smoke (& possibly burn), but they will impart an excellent smoky flavor to the bird. When I first turn the bird pan (30-45 min into the 2.5-3 hr bake), I remove the chip dish/pan of ash. After that, my oven door is closed except to turn the pan or inspect the bird's cooking process.

                          Hope your Thanksgiving is a great one!
                          Last edited by SableSprings; 11-27-2013, 11:47 PM.
                          Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
                          Roseburg, Oregon ( www.sablesprings.com )

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