Temperature

Selection of roasting temperature depends on the product being roasted.

1. Low-temperature roasting is best for large items such as turkeys and capons. It results in a tender,juicy product. Review pages 272 and 288 for a discussion of low-temperature roasting.

Large turkeys may be roasted at 250° to 325°F (120° to 165°C). For most operations, however, cooking times at the lower end of this range are too long. In ad-dition,if a turkey is stuffed (see pp. 423-424),it is not advisable to roast it at a very low temperature because the interior temperature will take too long to rise, providing a good breeding ground for bacteria.

Some recipes call for starting large turkeys at a high temperature for 15 to 30 minutes in order to brown them.This is usually not necessary because they will likely brown anyway during the long cooking time.

Smaller items, such as roasting chickens, are usually roasted at 325° to 375°F (165° to 190°C). Small items roasted at low temperatures may not brown well by the time they are done. In such cases, the heat can be turned up for a few minutes when they are almost done in order to brown them.

2. The searing method may be used for chickens under 4 to 5 pounds (2 kg) and for baked chicken parts.That is, start roasting in the oven at 450°F (230°C) for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 250° to 325°F (120° to 160°C).These small items cook so quickly that continuous roasting at a low temperature produces very little browning.

Ducks and geese also may be started at a high temperature in order to melt off some of the heavy fat layer under the skin and to make the skin brown and crisp.

3. High-temperature roasting is used for small items such as squab and game birds, which are often served rare. Cornish hens and other small poultry under 3 pounds (1.35 kg) may also be flash-roasted. Great care is necessary when roasting at high temperatures,however, because the poultry will quickly become overcooked if left in the oven only a few minutes too long. For example, a 2%-pound (1.2 kg) chicken or guinea hen roasted at 450°F (230°C) may be perfectly cooked and nicely browned after 45 minutes but overcooked and dry if left another 10 minutes.

Ducks may also be roasted at a continuously high temperature (400° to 425°F/200° to 220°C) because their fat content protects them from drying. Great care should be used to prevent overcooking, however, because this can happen very quickly at these temperatures. (Goose should not be roasted at a continuously high temperature because of its larger size and the length of time it takes to cook.)

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