Talking turkey

Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The turkey still takes the starring role on most American dining tables on Thanksgiving Day.

The most cherished family recipes may be the ones for Grandma’s special oyster stuffing or Aunt Rosie’s pumpkin pie, but on Thanksgiving Day, turkey still takes the starring role on most American dining tables.

According to the National Turkey Federation, Americans will eat more than 16.4 pounds of turkey apiece this year, and much of that is consumed on Thanksgiving. Following are a few tips to help make the best of the bird this year.

  • Fresh or frozen: There is no difference in quality between fresh turkey and a frozen bird, according to the NTF. Choose the product that best meets your needs. About 69 percent of Americans report buying frozen turkeys.
  • How big a bird? Purchase at least one pound of uncooked turkey per person when buying a whole turkey. You’ll have enough for the feast and for leftovers, too.
  • Thawing tips: A whole turkey takes about 24 hours per four to five pounds to thaw in the refrigerator. The refrigerator method is the safest and will result in the best finished product. In cold water, changed every 30 minutes, turkey takes about 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Once thawed, keep turkey refrigerated at 40 degrees F or below until it is ready to be cooked.
  • Regional flavor: In the Florida Keys, chefs place aromatic oranges or lemons and limes in the bird’s cavity. In the Southwest, poblano and ancho chilies may be used in a paste that adds a bit of heat. In the Northeast, chefs brine turkeys in a salt, sugar and water mixture for hours prior to roasting. In California, a wine-flavored basting sauce is used.

Southern Deep Fried Turkey

Yield: 12

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  • 10 to 12 Pound WHOLE TURKEY, non self-basting
  • 2/3 Cup prepared vinaigrette dressing
  • 1/3 Cup dry sherry
  • 2 Teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • As needed peanut oil (See note below)


  1. Remove the giblets and neck, rinse the turkey well with cold water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Take care to dry both inside cavities. To allow for good oil circulation throughout the cavity, do not truss or tie legs together. Cut off the wing tips and plump little tail (as they may get caught in the fryer basket).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix vinaigrette, dry sherry and seasonings together. Strain the marinade.
  3. Place the marinade in an injection syringe. Inject the marinade in the turkey breast, thighs and legs.
  4. Place the bird in a large food-safe plastic bag, refrigerate and marinate for at least 2 hours. Turn the bag and massage the turkey from time to time.
  5. Drain the marinade from the turkey and discard marinade. Place the turkey in the fryer basket or on a rack, neck down.
  6. Place the OUTDOOR gas burner on a level dirt or grassy area. Never fry a turkey indoors, in a garage or in any structure attached to a building. Do not fry on wood decks, which could catch fire, or concrete, which could be stained by the oil. (Safety tip: have a fire extinguisher nearby for added safety.)
  7. Add oil to a 7 to 10 gallon pot with a basket or rack. At the medium-high setting, heat the oil to 375 degrees F, (depending on the amount of oil, outside temperature and wind conditions, this should take about 40+ minutes).
  8. When the oil temperature registers 375 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer, slowly lower the turkey into the hot oil. The level of the oil will rise due to the frothing caused by the moisture from the turkey but will stabilize in about one minute. (Safety tips: to prevent burns from the splattering oil wear oven mitts/gloves, long sleeves, heavy shoes and even glasses. It is wise to have two people lowering and raising the turkey.)
  9. Immediately check the oil temperature and increase the flame so the oil temperature is maintained at 350 degrees F. If the temperature drops to 340 degrees F or below, oil will begin to seep into the turkey.
  10. Fry about 3-4 minutes per pound, or about 35-42 minutes for a 10-12 pound turkey. Stay with the cooker at all times as the heat must be regulated to maintain 350 degrees F.
  11. When cooked to 165-170 degrees F in the breast or 170-175 degrees F in the thigh, carefully remove the turkey from the hot oil. Allow the turkey to drain for a few minutes. (Safety tip: allow the oil to cool completely before storing or disposing.)
  12. Remove turkey from the rack and place on a serving platter. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
  13. NOTE: Use only oils with high smoke points, such as peanut, canola or safflower oil. To determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey in the pot before adding seasoning and add water until turkey is covered. Take turkey out of the water before marking the oil level. Measure the amount of water and use a corresponding amount of oil. Dry the pot thoroughly of all water.

– Courtesy of National Turkey Federation

Orange and Maple Roasted Turkey



  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1/4 Cup salt
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 Medium orange, peeled and juiced
  • 1 Gallon cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 Sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 Medium carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 Medium white onions, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 12-Pound WHOLE TURKEY, fresh or thawed


  1. Combine all ingredients, except turkey, in large pot and simmer over low heat for 1½ hours.
  2. Chill brine in ice bath until cold.
  3. Place whole turkey into foodservice-safe grade container.
  4. Pour chilled brine over top to submerge. Close bag and cover.
  5. Marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove turkey from brine, drain excess liquid.
  7. Place vegetables and herbs in body cavity and secure.



  • 1 Pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Medium oranges, juiced
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 Cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped


  1. Combine butter, orange juice, salt, pepper, maple syrup, rosemary, thyme and garlic in a large bowl.
  2. With fingers, slowly massage the compound butter into the skin of the turkey until well absorbed.
  3. Fold wings under the back of the turkey and return legs to the tucked position. Turkey may be cooked in a 325 degree F oven or on a rotisserie.
  4. If roasting in a thermal oven, cook on a rack for approximately 3 hours or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 170 degrees F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh.
  5. If cooking by the rotisserie method, thread turkey evenly on the rotisserie-spit fork using a counterweight to achieve an even balance. Place a drip pan in the center of the grill beneath the area where the turkey juices will drip. Cook the turkey over indirect medium heat in a covered rotisserie until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 170 degrees F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh.
  6. Allow turkey to rest for about 15 minutes. Remove vegetables and herbs from the cavity prior to carving. Garnish with orange slices and grapes.