It is pure bunk. I proved it once again on Friday. I had a 14.5 lb. turkey and a 5 lb. chicken to cook for a dinner being thrown at our church. I have been cooking for over thirty years for my family and friends. When I first started learning to cook poultry, I followed the package instructions, which always said to cook to 180' F. Sometimes I basted the bird. Sometimes I didn't. I tried cooking at different temperatures, breast side up, breast side down, in and out of cooking bags, you name it. But the meat was always dry and tough. Then, I purchased a Webber Smokey Joe barbecue. I followed the little cookbook that came with it and barbecued a turkey, with the lid on. It was the first time I ever had successfully cooked a juicy turkey. And it was very juicy. The recipe used time as rather than 180' as the indicator for cooking the bird.
After much experimentation, I have elliminated the wive's tales, and misinformation about cooking whole birds, chicken, turkey, duck, etc. It doesn't really matter what temperature you cook them at. That just determines who long you have to cook them. i found out that cooking them breast side up or down doesn't determine the juice saturation in the meat. Breaat side up gives you crispy, beautifully covered breast skin. But the texture and moisture content of the meat is determined solely by the final temperature of the meat when it is removed from the oven, barbecue, deep fryer, or whatever the heat source may be.
I promise you, if you cook the bird until a meat thermometer reads 155'F., in the thickest part of the breast, and then you remove the bird to a platter and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before carving, you will be rewarded with the most beautiful turkey you have ever made.
Oh, and the turkey was cooked on my Webber kettle, while the chicken was roasted at the same time in my oven. I got rave review for both yesterday evening.
I am not bragging or trying to make myself look like a cullinary genius. Cooking poultry is really a no-brainer. Just cook it to 155' F. and pull it off of the heat. let it sit, remove the entire breasts from the bone and slice against the grain, remove the wings, thighs, and drumsticks, arrange artfully on a plate or platter, and serve. Your platter will be the star of the show. And people will be asking you your secret, because most people really have never been taught how to properly cook a turkey. Yours will be the best they have probably ever had.
Many people on this site know how to cook poultry. But so many people don't. And now, you too know the secret.
Shhhh. Don't tell anybody; but the secret isn't really a secret.
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North