WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The following instructions for cooking a turkey are from chef/owner Ralph Lewis of the Okeechobee Steakhouse, Okeechobee Prime Seafood, and Okeechobee Prime Meat Market.
Planning Your Turkey Dinner
How big of a turkey do I need?
The rule of thumb is one pound of raw turkey per person, for example, a 12-pound turkey will feed 10 to 12 people and a 20-pound turkey will feed 18 to 20 people/
Thawing your turkey properly
- A 12-pound turkey will take up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- A 20-pound turkey will take up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Roasting your turkey
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- Roast for 30 minutes per pound, an 8 to 12-pound turkey will take three to four hours and a 12 to 16-pound turkey will take up to four to five hours and an 8 to 20-pound turkey will take up to five to six hours.
- It is recommended to cook the stuffing (DRESSING!) separately, but if you do stuff the turkey make sure the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees.
- The temperature of the breast should be 165 degrees, make sure to stay away from the bone when checking the temperature.
- The temperature of the leg is best and more tender at 175 degrees.
WARNING: Keep in mind that a convection oven will cook faster than a conventional oven.
Brining for Tenderness and Flavor
Basic Brine Recipe
- 1 cup Kosher Salt
- ½ cup Brown Sugar
- 6 Cloves of Garlic
- 10 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- 12 Whole Black Peppercorns
- 3 Bay Leaves
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- Zest of 1 Orange
- ½ Gallon Water (Can use Chicken Stock for More Robust Flavor)
NOTE: You can also add Allspice Berries, a Cinnamon Stick, Rosemary Leaves, Sage Leaves, and Apple Slices to really kick up the flavor
- Mix all ingredients in large stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add One Gallon of cold water (or Chicken Stock) and ensure brine is at room temperature before pouring over turkey.
- Place turkey breast side down in a large container. Pour brine over turkeys and top the turkey with a heavy plate to keep it submerged in the brine.
- Brine a 12 to 14-pound turkey for 8 to 12 hours, 16 pounds, and over 12 to 16 hours in the refrigerator
- Rinse Turkey inside and out after pulling it from the brine and Pat Dry before Roasting.
Seasoning Your Turkey
There are many ways to season your turkey. Okeechobee Steakhouse suggests using a dry rub or herbs and butter under the skin of the turkey to keep the turkey moist and to add another dimension of flavor.
Some seasoning options
- Cajun Seasoning/Rub
- Jerk Seasoning/Rub
- Traditional – Poultry Seasoning, Salt & Pepper, some Paprika for Color
- Herbed Butter – Add Fresh Herbs to the Butter you Put under the skin, such as Sage, Rosemary, Thyme
- 5 Pounds of Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes (Russets are more fluffy and white, Yukon Golds are heartier and starchier and pack a lot of flavor)
- 1 Pound Butter
- 1 Cup of Milk
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- Peel Russet Potatoes, if using Yukons you can leave the skin on, but wash thoroughly. Cut into Large Cubes.
- Place cubed potatoes in a Large Stockpot and Add enough water to cover the potatoes by at least an inch.
- Add salt to the water.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 25 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes well. Using either an electric mixer or potato masher, mash the potatoes well, adding salt and pepper to taste, butter, and milk. Mix until smooth.
Instead of Butter and Milk, Try This:
- 1 Cup Low Fat Yogurt
- 1 Cup of Skim or 2% Milk
Recipe (serves 8-10 people)
- 9 cups dried crumbled cornbread or other crusty bread
- 1-1/2 cups finely diced celery
- 1-1/2 cups finely diced Spanish onion
- 3 tablespoons fresh sage chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
- 2 cups chicken broth (store-bought is fine)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the celery and onions and cook until translucent.
- In a large saucepot, heat the chicken broth and remaining butter. Bring to a slow simmer.
- Add the celery and onion mixture, salt, pepper, sage, and parsley to the pot with the broth.
- Turn off the heat and add the dried cornbread. Mix until everything is incorporated.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9” x 13” baking dish and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.