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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Troubleshooting turkey

National Turkey Federation photos

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

T-day. As in Thanksgiving. And turkey. And tomorrow. AAAAAARRGGghhh!

On this page, and inside the section, our attempt to help: Streamlined instructions for getting a turkey dinner on the table.

We garnered these tips and ideas from local home cooks:

Annie Kahele, Honolulu: Held a "cooking class" for her grown children one year; taught them her recipes for stuffing, etc. Now everyone brings a dish, and she just does the turkey and pies. "No be shame to ask for help."

Tiffany Sakamoto, Hawai'i Kai: "It's all about tools. You need a good roasting pan and rack, a fat separator for the gravy, an instant-read meat thermometer, a ricer for the potatoes."

Cyrilla Medeiros, Wailuku, Maui: Makes stuffing using vinha d'ahlos beef. Marinate beef overnight in vinha d'ahlos mixture, drain, grind and make a stuffing with bread crumbs and aromatic vegetables.

And Mary Clingman of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line had this advice:

• "I have only one oven, so there's no way I can cook everything at once. We time the turkey so it comes out of the oven an hour and 15 minutes before we want to serve. We take it out of the oven, place it on a platter or tray, wrap it in heavy-duty foil and then in a large bath towel." It will stay hot while you cook the casseroles, vegetables and other dishes in the oven. Twenty minutes before serving, uncover the turkey and carve it.

• While the turkey is roasting, cut up some carrots, onions, celery and such and place them in a large stock pot. Add a bay leaf or whatever you like for making stock. As you carve the turkey, remove the bones and put them in the stock pot. Let the stock simmer while you have dinner and clean up the kitchen. By the end of the evening, you have stock. Said Clingman: "I put it in the refrigerator uncovered, and it cools pretty quickly, and then I can freeze it. I feel so good because I'm done, I don't have to feel guilty about that stupid carcass sitting in the refrigerator, waiting for me to do something with it."



Leave turkey in original wrapping. Place in a clean sink and cover with cool water. Empty sink every half-hour until defrosted — 30 minutes per pound.


Pick your technique: low and slow or higher-heat roasting. If stuffing turkey, add 45 minutes to 1 hour to roasting time.

Unstuffed at 325 degrees*

  • 10-18 pounds — 3-3 1/2 hours
  • 18-22 pounds — 3 1/2-4 hours
  • 22-24 pounds — 4-4 1/2 hours
  • 24-30 pounds — 4 1/2 to 5 hours

* Recommended by Butterball

Unstuffed at 400 degrees**

  • 10-12 pounds —1 1/2-1 3/4 hours
  • 14-15 pounds — 2 hours
  • 20-22 pounds — 3 hours (reduce to 325 after 1 hour)

** Recommended by Cook's Illustrated


True mashed: Peel and gently boil medium-size russet (brown-skinned) potatoes in salted water until tender; drain, reserving cooking liquid. Return potatoes to pan and burner; shake and roll until dry. Rice or mash potatoes; place in warm pottery bowl. Add room-temperature butter, milk or cream and hot cooking water as desired. To hold, cover with foil, place bowl in large pot and pour hot water around.

Easy smashed: Boil medium-size red new potatoes in jackets until tender; drain, reserving cooking liquid. Return potatoes to pot; smash roughly with wooden spoon. Mash in softened butter (half a stick for every 2 pounds), a little reserved hot cooking liquid, minced chives, salt and pepper to taste. Cook's Illustrated December magazine recommends blending butter with 1/2 cup softened cream cheese for rich, tart flavor.


Fresh cranberry relish — Cook 1 package fresh cranberries with the juice and zest of 1 orange, &Mac253; cup sugar, handful of toasted walnuts. Cook until berries pop. Make a day ahead; serve at room temperature.

Sweet potatoes — Roast in jackets in oven with turkey. Or peel and slice thinly, paint with melted butter, lay out in casserole and sprinkle with brown sugar. Microwave 10 minutes; finish in 400-degree oven after turkey comes out.

Greens — Serve a fresh salad (make ahead). Or at the last minute, steam peas or green beans; toss with butter; top with toasted almonds.

• • •


• Remove neck and giblets from defrosted turkey.

• Wash turkey in cold water; pat dry.

• Place small onion, apple, lemon (all quartered), handful of parsley inside cavity.

• Tuck drumstick ends under skin at cavity opening.

• Rub turkey with soft butter or oil; sprinkle salt and pepper.

• Place on rack in roasting pan ("V" rack is best).

• Start turkey breast side down; turn half-way through cooking time.

• Use meat thermometer to test doneness.

• Done is 165 degrees at breast, 170 to 175 degrees at thigh.

• To prevent dry breast meat, cover loosely with foil two-thirds through cooking time.

• When done, remove turkey, cover with foil, allow to rest 30 minutes.