Executive Chef and Partner, Village, New York City
"One year, when I was the chef at the Odeon, I catered Thanksgiving
for the David Letterman Show. It was a lot of fun, but it involved cutting
up something like 37 turkeys. The day we did this I had a new cook who
had just arrived from France. He was so unnerved by the experience that
he got back on the plane the next day. So, I think there is something
about Thanksgiving that only Americans understand. There are many Americans
who only cook on Thanksgiving: They are deathly afraid of hurting themselves
in the process. Thanksgiving comes with a special set of anxieties.
My advice is, most importantly, to make way too much food. Anything
less is unpatriotic. It's ok if the turkey breast is a little dried
out. You will still have access to the foodie VIP lounge in heaven,
even if you don't turn the bird every thirty seconds. That's what gravy
was invented for. And, if all else fails, plan to let mom cook next
Make sure the turkey is completely defrosted and at room temperature.
2. For an unstuffed bird, the cooking time will be about 10 minutes
per lb. at 350°F. Using an instant read
thermometer, the breast must register 160°F
at the deepest part of thigh). You can always throw the legs
back in the oven! They always take longer.
3. One twenty-pound turkey will feed ten people, (leftovers included).
If you have a large enough oven, two
smaller turkeys can be easier to handle.
4. Set aside at least one half hour for the bird to rest after cooking.