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Browning a Roaster-Oven Turkey

If I cook my turkey in a oven roaster, is there any way to make it look browned, other than putting it in the oven for half an hour.

"Look" browned is absolutely the right term, because in cooking, brown is much more than just a color. The caramelization of sugars and the Maillard reactions of amino acids, which are the primary browning reactions in cooking, are often the main ways of adding flavor. That is true of everything from toast to butterscotch sauce and from hash browns to roast turkey. The environment of a roaster oven is too moist and there is too much condensation dripping from the lid to allow for browning reactions.

Various manufacturers of roaster ovens suggest the following browning cocktail:

  • 1⁄4 cup melted butter or margarine
  • 1-1⁄2 teaspoons browning sauce, such as Kitchen Bouquet
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Wash turkey with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Paint the turkey with the browning mixture and cook as directed.

You will get a turkey that looks brown (and that is moist, juicy, and delicious). You will not get a turkey where the skin has become crispy and brown through the application of dry heat. For that, you need to put the turkey in your regular oven at high temperature for the last half hour, but you have indicated an unwillingness or inability to do this, which we respect.

Kitchen Bouquet is primarily a browning agent, and includes caramel as its leading ingredient (plus some vegetables, herbs, and spices). It is available in just about any supermarket.

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