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Video: How to cook the perfect Thanksgiving turkey

  1. Closed captioning of: How to cook the perfect Thanksgiving turkey

    >>> in today's holiday kitchen, we're talking turkey, preparing a 15-pound bird can be intimidated, especially when it is the centerpiece of your dinner table.

    >> celebrity chef art smith is here to tell you how easy it can be.

    >> easy peasy. i want to tell you something, think of a turkey as a big chicken .

    >> that's right. already not intimidated.

    >> most importantly, make sure you thaw it according to when you buy your turkey. if you buy it fresh, you don't have to worry about that, but one of the things i think is most important, you have to have a hot oven. also remember, too --

    >> slow bake it, no?

    >> what i like to do is start with a hot oven, just sear it, then turn it down to 325. first rule, you want to season that. i just did salt and pepper .

    >> little olive oil ?

    >> i think olive oil helps a lot of things, just really nice. then what i do is --

    >> you do a rub with this?

    >> yes, i do.

    >> listen to this, do a rub.

    >> come on, ms. chef, what am i doing?

    >> hoda, you had a great question, you can put the wonderful herbs on the skin.

    >> the herbs are going under the skin, kath, we're putting them under here.

    >> that's where a lot of people put butter.

    >> what are these leaves?

    >> sage.

    >> what's your favorite kind of stuffing?

    >> i like rosemary.

    >> i like cornbread.

    >> you can't come to my house, sorry.

    >> what do you like?

    >> my mother's sausage and sage, always.

    >> under there too?

    >> under the breasts here, just pull it up. what that does is, keep in mind, that turkeys, you know, this repels water and stuff like that. you know, so in other words, all the flavor is going to be under the skin and everything.

    >> sure, sure.

    >> let me ask this, does the pan matter? sometimes i get the pans from the grocery store, the thin ones.

    >> unless you buy several, because you really risk burning yourself, i would recommend getting a nice, heavy duty pan, sturdy pan. we're going to put a few chopped vegetables in there. we call that the holy trinity in southern cooking. all that does is add flavor, celery, onion, carrot.

    >> basics, basics. you don't stuff your bird? you do your stuffing separately?

    >> i did research on that. southern started calling dressing because they didn't want to stuff their birds, they'd make it like a casserole on the side. you can do both. but remember, if you stuff the bird, you have to do 30 more minutes per pound.

    >> only 30 seconds.

    >> how long do you cook the bird for?

    >> this is a 14-pound bird. you want to cook it at least three and a half hours to four.

    >> cover it or don't?

    >> start it out first and sear it.

    >> then what?

    >> then turn it down.

    >> you don't cover it?

    >> no, i do not. i do not. then what you're going to do it, we're going to add a little bit of flour.

    >> making the gravy?

    >> yes, the gravy. just a little bit of that. i'm going to pour this in, stir, stir, stir.

    >> get in there, get in there. involved.

    >> it's already burnt on the bottom.

    >> burnt is flavor.

    >> go ahead.

    >> yes, that's what i'm talking about!

    >> you're adding, what, chicken stock or turkey stock?

    >> you can either add chicken stock or turkey stock. the other thing i want to press upon too --

    >> we have to cut to flo rida .

    >> can't keep him waiting.

    >> got to have some of that. look how tender and moist. cut across.

TODAY recipes
updated 11/16/2012 1:15:54 PM ET 2012-11-16T18:15:54

Recipe: Roast turkey with pan gravy

  • One 14- to 16-pound turkey, preferably free-range
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 8 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large leek, white part only, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Turkey broth
  • Neck and giblets from the turkey (save the liver for another use)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small celery rib, chopped
  • 3 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Gravy
  • 6 cups turkey broth
  • 1/4 cup flour dissolved in 1 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Slip your fingers under the turkey skin, and loosen it at the breast area. Slip 6 sprigs each of thyme and sage under the skin.

Coarsely chop the remaining 2 sprigs each of thyme and sage, and toss with the bay leaf, onions, carrots, celery, and leek in a medium bowl. Season the body cavity with salt and pepper to taste, then loosely stuff with some of the vegetable mixture; cover and refrigerate the remaining vegetables. Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Rub all over with the oil, then season the skin with salt and pepper. Cover the breast area only (not wings or legs) with aluminum foil.

Roast the turkey for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and roast for 1 hour. Remove the foil from the breast, and scatter the remaining vegetables in the pan. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone, reads 180 degrees F. Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and let stand for 20 minutes before carving.

While the turkey is roasting, make the broth. Chop the turkey neck into large chunks with a cleaver or heavy knife. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the turkey neck and giblets. Cook, turning occasionally, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the canned broth, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add enough cold water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to low, and add the thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Simmer until the broth is well flavored, about 2 hours. Strain the broth. Let stand for 5 minutes, and then skim off the fat on the surface.

To make the gravy, discard the vegetables in the roasting pan. Pour the cooking juices into a glass bowl or gravy separator. Let stand 5 minutes, and then pour off the fat. Pour the degreased juices back into the roasting pan. Bring to a boil on the stove over high heat, scraping up the browned bits in the pan. Add the broth, then the dissolved cornstarch, and cook until lightly thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper and pour into a sauceboat.

Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.

Serving Size

Makes 12 to 14 servings

Recipe: Roast Brussels sprouts

  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, peeled, trimmed, and halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil for lightly coating
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the Brussels sprouts and garlic in a bowl. Slowly add the olive oil while tossing to lightly coat. Arrange the Brussels sprouts out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Roast in the over for 10 minutes. Remove and cover with foil. Return the Brussels sprouts to the oven and roast 10 to 15 more minutes. Serve warm

Serving Size

Makes 6 servings

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