Anyone that knows me knows this: I love to cook! I have spent 20-plus years in the food service industry, and my love of cooking has never disappeared. With Thanksgiving this week, it is time for me to strap on the apron and put on my "catering" hat.

I am lucky that I will have a house full of family members for Thanksgiving, since I cannot seem to cook in small quantities. My next few blogs will be a rundown of what will be served at my table this holiday. Today I tackle:

  • Turkey
Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images

The traditional main course. Many people I have talked to say they spend hours with their bird in the oven. I have found a way to shave some of that time (thanks to Alton Brown from Food Network).

Make sure your bird is completely defrosted. Try to season the night before. I use garlic, onion powder, rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage, salt, & pepper. I will even take a hand full of margarine and rub it over the outer skin before seasoning. Pour about a cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan before you place the bird in the oven. Take a sheet of aluminum foil and shape a covering that will fit over the breast area, then remove it. You will not need this for the first part of the cooking process.

Pre-heat your oven to 500-Degrees. Place bird in oven (without the foil covering) for about 1/2 hour. This will help brown the skin. Then drop the temperature to 350-degrees, place the foil covering you created over the breast, and place a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. Continue roasting until the thermometer reads 170-degrees.

When you take the bird out of the oven, the temperature will continue to rise as you let it rest. The "pop-up-timer" probably will not have poped up, but this is ok. I have noticed that if you wait for the "pop-up-timer" to pop, your bird can be dry and over done. I will normally let the bird sit for about 1/2 hour before carving.

The service at my table does not look like the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving print most people are used to seeing. I will carve the Turkey in the kitchen, seperating the white and dark pieces into their own bowls, and placing them on the dining room table with the rest of the dishes (I'm not wearing a suit, either).

Tomorrow: Cranberries