TV infomercials are ingenious advertisements that draw us in with a slick sales pitch, grab our attention, pique our curiosity and then our wallet. I’ve been given the opportunity to review a couple “As seen on TV” products to see if their claims stand up to a real world test and if they are worth buying. First up, the Turbo Roaster, which claims to be able to roast a 6 lb chicken in 45 minutes. Let’s put it to the test.
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
Turbo Roaster jar, tube, seal
Instruction and recipe guide
What is it?
The Turbo Roaster is basically just a small glass jar with a metal lid that has a long tube attached to it. The jar has a screw top and is very similar to an ordinary canning jar. The idea is that you fill the glass jar with hot water, screw on the lid, place the tube in the chicken and roast it. The steam from the water in the Turbo Roaster jar is supposed to travel down the tube, into the chicken and help cook it in 1/2 the time while allowing it to remain juicy and tender.
Does it work?
First of all, I cook a lot of chickens, so the process is not foreign to me. I fix one every other week other week or so. My normal method of cooking is to place a 5 lb fresh thawed bird in a roasting pan, add a few carrots, stalks of celery, chunks of onion, clove of garlic and a bay leaf around the chicken. I then fill up the pan with water until it’s about 3/4ths of the way up the side of the pan (I save the resulting stock for making soup). The top of the chicken is not covered in water. I then generously salt and pepper it, put the lid on the pan and bake the chicken at 350 F degrees for 20 minutes per pound. For a 5 pound chicken, that works out to 1hr and 40 mins.
The Turbo Roaster claims to roast up to a 6 lb bird in 45 mins, so I’ll save 55 minutes of cooking time. Sounds good to me!
Last night I opened the Turbo Roaster box, washed the jar, lid, seal, tube thingy and placed a washed and thawed 5 lb chicken in a glass baking dish. I added my spices, salt and pepper to the top of the bird but didn’t add any water around it. As per the directions, I preheated the oven to 450 F degrees, filled the Turbo Roaster jar a quarter full of hot water and screwed on the lid.
When the oven was heated I then had to figure how to set the combo of the chicken and the Turbo Roaster in my oven. I didn’t come up with the most elegant solution, but it worked even though the angle of the TB causes it to tip over a bit.
According to the instructions you’re supposed to roast at 450 F degrees for 20 minutes and then turn the oven back to 425 F for the remaining 25 minutes. I followed this instruction and at the end of the 45 minutes, I checked the internal temp of the chicken by using a meat thermometer. The temp was only 136 F. A properly cooked chicken should be at least 160 F. So I set the timer for another 20 mins and checked the temp again. This time it was up to 145 F. Hmmmmm…
I set the timer for a final 15 mins and afterwards the temp finally showed 160 F. The chicken smelled wonderful and looked tasty.
The chicken did taste very good, but I can’t say it tasted any better than it does when I cook it my usual way. The only real difference is that the skin is crispier when using the roasting method as opposed to my baking method.
The Turbo Roaster claims to be able to roast a 6 lb chicken in 45 minutes. With my test (following their exact instructions), it actually took a total of 80 minutes to cook a 5 lb chicken. That only saved me 20 minutes over my normal 1hr 40 min baking time. Saving even a few minutes might be worth it though right? But I don’t think saving even 20 minutes makes the Turbo Roaster a good buy. First of all, you have to wash it after you use it and then you have to find a place to store it. I also have a feeling that the TB has very little effect on the cooking of the chicken. For one thing, the jar still had some of the water in it after the chicken was roasted. I’m guessing that I could remove the TB from the equation and the cooking time would be about the same and the final results would look and taste the same.
My advice is to save your $20.