When some people get ready to cook a turkey, they immediately
reach for the foil. But long cooking under foil holds
in moisture, so the turkey tends to stew in its juices
rather than roast by dry heat. And moisture trapped
next to the skin results in a rather ashen-looking bird.
golden-brown, crispy outer skin only happens when the
surface of the turkey reaches 300°F to 400°F.
These high temperatures foster browning reactions that
create deeper colors and more-pronounced flavors. Foil
insulates the bird, blocks the heat needed for browning,
and often increases cooking time.
biggest challenge in cooking turkey is that the breast
tends to cook before the dark meat. Using foil to block
some of the heat from reaching the breast is an attempt
to ensure that both light and dark meats cook at the
same rate and end up being done at the same time. Instead
of using foil, try dipping
cheesecloth into melted butter and laying it over the
breast. The grid of the cheesecloth holds fat on the
surface, but the bird still browns through the cloth’s
open weave. Baste the turkey thoroughly every half hour
to keep the cheesecloth from sticking, and when the
turkey’s almost done, baste it as you remove the
cheesecloth so that the skin doesn't tear. Then, if
the bird is brown but not quite cooked inside, lay foil
over the top without tucking in the sides—more
like a canopy than a tent.