This section is from the book "Experimental Cookery From The Chemical And Physical Standpoint", by Belle Lowe. Also available from Amazon: Experimental cookery.
The above results and observations in cooking of poultry suggest that poultry may lose moisture rapidly after a certain temperature is reached, with the result that the meat becomes quite dry. This loss of moisture seems to occur most rapidly at a temperature around 83° to 85°C. Some meats may become dry more readily within a short range of temperature than others. Ostwald states that "Pork can be distinguished from other meats by the fact that its water holding capacity suffers the least change when cooked or dried." The kind of food the bird has received may influence the juiciness to a certain degree.
Basting. Lowe and Keltner found that basting shortened the cooking period, but did not appreciably affect the cooking losses. Butter was used for basting. The salt was removed by washing, the butter was then melted, and the curd allowed to settle. The half of chicken was basted before putting in the oven, at the end of 30, and at the end of 60 minutes, a total of 20 grams of butter being used. Basting increased the desirability of the lean meat of both the thigh and breast.
Time of cooking. Roasters weighing 4 to 5 pounds, dressed weight, require about 35 minutes per pound to cook by the searing method. If estimate is based on the stuffed weight, about 30 minutes per pound is necessary. But considerable variation may be expected, larger roasters requiring a shorter and smaller ones a longer time. For the constant oven temperature, 150°C. (about 300°F.), approximately the same time will be required as for the searing method though again considerable variation may be expected.
Table 38, based on laboratory results, gives approximate time for roasting turkey at 150°C. Variation from this time will of course be found. The time given is for uncovered birds. A shorter time will be required when the roast is covered.
Table 38 Approximate Time for Cooking Turkey
Weight of stuffed bird in pounds
Average total cooking time in hours
Average time per pound in minutes
3 to 3 1/2
20 to 25
3 1/2 to 41/2
18 to 20
18 to 23
4 1/2 to 6
16 to 18
Effect of feed on fat distribution. Maw has investigated the effect of cereals, yellow corn, wheat, oats, and barley on the amount and nature of the fat deposited in different parts of the body (flesh, abdominal fat, external fat, and skin). Flesh as used was composed of the breast and leg muscles with external fat stripped clean. The wheat gave an excellent external appearance as it produced an external layer of fat over the carcass but relatively little fat distributed through the flesh. Table 39 gives his results:
Table 39 Distribution of Fat in the Body (Maw)
Percentage total fat
Fat in flesh
Fat in skin
Maw states that the fat laid down in the carcass is replacing the moisture. This fat in the cooked bird influences the apparent moistness of the flesh. The palatability tests indicated the corn-fed birds appeared the most moist, with the best flavor. The barley-fed meat was nearly like the corn-fed; whereas the oat-fed and wheat-fed meats were the poorest in quality, the wheat-fed apparently being the driest and poorest in flavor. These birds were roasted at a constant temperature of 375°F.