Thanksgiving turkey cooking tips from the Marine Room’s Chef Bernard

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Chef Bernard from the Marine Room in La Jolla explains the safest, and best way to prepare your holiday turkey.

Chef Bernard provided KUSI with some recipes for some of his favorite Thanksgiving dishes including mashed potatoes, wild mushroom spoon bread, and the ultimate cranberry relish.


Turkey Cooking Methods

The traditional method calls for a 325-350°F. oven, and an average cooking time of 25 minutes per lb. (see chart below).

Recommended Roasting Times for Fresh or Thawed Whole Turkey

(at 325° to 350°F)

6 – 8 2-1/4 – 2-3/4 2-3/4 – 3
8 – 12 2-3/4 – 3 3 – 3-1/2
12 – 14 3 – 3-3/4 3-1/2 – 4
14 – 18 3-3/4 – 4 1/4 4 – 4-1/4
18 – 20 4-1/4 – 4 1/2 4-1/4 – 4-3/4
20 – 24 4-1/2 – 5 4-3/4 – 5-1/4
24 – 28 5 – 5-1/2 5-1/4 – 5-3/4

Stuffing Safety – Source: National Turkey Federation

For stuffing cooked in a turkey or in a casserole, some basic rules should be followed.
• Preparing Stuffing Safely
Mix stuffing just before it goes into the turkey. The wet and dry ingredients can be prepared ahead of time and chilled. Mix ingredients just before placing the stuffing inside the turkey or casserole dish.
• Stuffing Properly
The turkey should be stuffed loosely–about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. The stuffing should be moist, not dry, since heat destroys bacteria more rapidly in a moist environment. Do not stuff a turkey to be grilled or rotisseried!
• Using a Thermometer
The stuffed turkey should be placed immediately in an oven set no lower than 325°F. The bird is done when the thermometer temperature reaches at least 180°F. in the innermost part of the thigh. Juices should run clear. Cook until the center of the stuffing inside the turkey or casserole dish reaches 165°F. Let bird stand for 20 minutes before removing all stuffing and carving.

Brining Tips:

* Always use a non-reactive container when brining              * Use 1 cup kosher or sea salt for every 1 gallon of water or juice

* Use ½ cup sweetener (sugar, honey, maple. Agave, etc) for every 1 gallon of water or juice

* Add herbs and spices to taste                                              * Maintain turkey at 40 degrees or below during brining process

* 16 pound and less turkeys are easier to handle for brining * Brine for 1 hour per pound of turkey, but no longer than 12 hours

* Rinse brine off completely and pat dry before cooking        * Brined turkeys cook a little faster so start checking for doneness a little earlier

* Do not reuse brine                                                               * Brining seals the breast meat so it can remain moist when done

* Do not brine kosher or self-basting turkeys, as they are already salted.  

Roasting Tips:

  • Basting often is the secret of perfect roasting.
  • For a richer and golden skin use a lot of butter and baste more.
  • Roasted foods are cooked using an oven or other heat source for the purpose of attaining a golden brown surface.  Large cuts of meat may be roasted slowly at moderate heat to achieve a caramelized surface while retaining succulent juices.   Using a properly calibrated oven and rotating the product occasionally will help ensure a perfect roast.  Potatoes and root vegetables added to a meat roast will absorb pan juices, creating a one dish meal.  Basting often during the roasting process adds flavor and prevents drying.

How should a frozen turkey be thawed? How long does it take?
Turkey can be thawed in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. Never defrost turkey on the counter.
Whole turkey takes approximately 24 hours per five pounds to thaw in the refrigerator. In cold water changed every 30 minutes, turkey takes approximately 30 minutes per pound to thaw

When it comes to deciding between a hen (female turkey) or tom (male turkey), you may consider that hens usually weigh less than 15 pounds, and toms generally weigh more than 15 pounds. But their gender makes no difference in terms of flavor, texture or tenderness. What does make a big difference is the age of the bird. Fryer or roaster turkeys, those less than four months old, are very tender. Young turkeys, from 4 to 7 months old, are quite tender too. These two types of turkeys are best for roasting. Turkeys that are about a year old, yearlings, have moderately tender skin and meat. They can still be used for roasting, and cost much less. Mature turkeys, or those above fifteen months of age, have tough meat and should not be used for roasting.


Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6

3 pounds          russet potatoes

1/2 cup            crème fraiche

1/2 cup            mascarpone

1/2 pound       unsalted butter (two sticks cut into small cubes)

To taste sea salt and freshly ground white pepper.

Peel and wash potatoes. Cut into quarters. Transfer to large stock pot. Cover with cold, lightly salted water. Place over medium high heat. Bring to simmer. Cook until fork tender. Transfer to ricer set over large pot. Mill to process.  Set heat to medium high.  Fold in crème fraiche and mascarpone with a wooden spoon.  Add butter.  Mix until fully incorporated.

Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving dish.

You can flavor your mashed potatoes with horseradish or chives.


Wild Mushroom Spoon Bread

Serves 6

1 tablespoon                unsalted butter

1/4 cup                        olive oil

1/2 pound                   shiitake mushrooms, trimmed, sliced

1/2 pound                   oyster mushrooms, trimmed, sliced

1/2 pound                   portobello mushrooms, stemmed, gills scraped, chopped

1/2 pound                   beechwood mushrooms, trimmed

to taste                        sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 – 1 pound loaf          brioche, crust removed, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/4 cup                        shallots, finely chopped

1/2 cup                        white port

1/4 cup                        finely chopped dried porcini

5                                  eggs

3 cups                          heavy cream

2 tablespoons              chopped parsley

1 tablespoon                chopped sage

1 teaspoon                   chopped thyme

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter baking dish.  Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over high heat.  Sauté mushrooms 2 minutes until liquid evaporates.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Remove from skillet.  Set aside and combine with brioche.  Place shallots in skillet.  Cook over medium heat without browning.  Add white port and porcini mushrooms.  Reduce by half.  Pour in cream.  Bring to boil.  Remove from heat.  In separate mixing bowl beat eggs until well combined.  Slowly pour in cream and herb mixture. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Place mushrooms and brioche into baking dish.  Pour egg and cream mixture over top.  It is very important to ensure that all of the bread is saturated with the custard. Cover tightly with foil.  Bake at 350°F 30 minutes or until set.


The Ultimate Cranberry Relish

Makes 2 cups

2 cups              ruby port

1 cup               light brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon   ground black pepper

1 stalk              lemongrass, split

2                      star anise

1-12 oz. bag     fresh cranberries

2 cups              fresh persimmons, stemmed, peeled, cut into ¼ inch pieces

1/4 cup            minced crystallized ginger

Combine first 5 ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to boil.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.  Remove lemongrass and star anise.  Stir in cranberries, persimmons and ginger.  Cook over medium heat until liquid is slightly reduced and berries burst.  Stir occasionally, about 6 minutes.  Cool.  Transfer sauce to bowl.  Chill until cold.    Cover.  Keep refrigerated.  (Can be prepared 1 week ahead.)

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