Cooking the Perfect Turkey


If you are familiar with Cupertino, CA in the late 70’s and 80’s, you most likely remember Vallco Shopping Mall and you likely remember Buster’s Bar and Grill and Wolfe Creek Cafe. It is these two eating establishments that Chef Greg West opened and worked at while earning his culinary degree. Through the years Chef Greg has been Chef and V.P. of Operations at the Last Laugh Comedy Club and Restaurant, Head Chef, General Manager, and V.P. of Operations at Maxci’s Flyers Diner, and managed the food service program for Sun Microsystems. Here Chef Greg shares his foolproof cooking instructions for the perfect turkey.

  • Start by pre-heating your oven to 325 degrees.
  • Unwrap your turkey and remove all the bagged packages from the inside cavity and the neck area, which include the neck, gizzards, heart and liver. Save all except the liver for  stock (the liver will cause the stock to taste bitter).
  • Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and then pat the turkey completely dry inside and out. This guarantees the turkey will roast and not steam (steaming makes the turkey tough).
  • Remove the tips of the wings as they tend to burn and are not edible.
  • Liberally brush the entire turkey with a good quality extra virgin olive oil making sure to get in between the crevices along the legs and thighs.
  • Generously coat with coarse Kosher salt and pepper remembering to also season the inside cavity.
  • Place the turkey breast side up on a rack in a pan or on a pile of chunky cut onions, carrots and celery, enough to lift the turkey above the bottom of the pan to ensure heat is able to surround the turkey evenly.
  • Do not cover the turkey, remember, you are roasting the turkey not steaming it!
  • Put the turkey in the oven and cook 15 mins. per pound. A 20lb. turkey will take approx. 5 hours depending on the calibration of your oven.
  • Check the turkey a half hour before the cooking time is up.
  • DO NOT BASTE during the cooking time until the last 10-15 mins., (which will ensure a nice golden brown skin). Continual basting draws moisture away from the turkey and makes the turkey dry and tough.
  •  When the cooking time is finished remove the turkey from the oven and let it sit for at least an hour before carving. This allows the juices to remain in the meat keeping it moist. Chef Greg states not to worry about the turkey getting cold it will still be warm inside and you will have steaming hot gravy to pour on top.
  • Before carving the turkey remove the breast pieces and slice against the grain for more tender pieces of meat.

Chef Greg wants everyone to keep it simple and sane without any hassle and most importantly to ENJOY!

Happy Thanksgiving!