Thanksgiving Dinner – How to Stuff, Prepare, and Cook a Turkey

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 24,971
    Chef Tony Conte demonstrates his technique for stuffing, preparing and cooking a turkey.

    Tony Conte

    In July of 2006 Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj was pleased to announce the appointment of Antonio (Tony) Conte as Executive Chef of the Oval Room, the elegant 100-seat main dining room and 40 seats al fresco dining restaurant located one block from the White House on 800 Connecticut Ave., NW. Already receiving accolades at The Oval Room, Chef Conte was named “Rising Culinary Star” in 2006 by Star Chefs. Chef Conte brings a wealth of culinary experience to his position, having worked as the executive sous chef at four-star Jean Georges. Conte joined Jean Georges in 2003, and he was responsible for menu innovation, research and development, product management, assessment and culinary training, as well as purchasing and food costs. Chef Conte’s impressive resume also includes a stint as the chef de partie at JoJo, a contemporary French restaurant also owned by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and a turn as executive chef and co-owner of Pesce in Branford, Connecticut, where, during his tenure, the restaurant earned Connecticut Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant 2002” and Taste of Nation’s “Golden Fork Award” Best Food in Show 2001. Born and raised in New Haven, CT, Tony Conte received his A.O.S. Culinary Degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He spent the early part of his career honing his skills close to home at notable restaurants such as Sole e Luna Ristorante in Westport and then advanced to the position of executive sous chef for the Greenwich Country Club and after, the Belmont Country Club in Belmont, Massachusetts. The Oval Room features modern American cuisine and offers three dining rooms for daily lunch and dinner service Monday-Friday, and dinner service on Saturday with menu items ranging from $7 to $29. For reservations please call 202-463-8700 and visit

    Tony Conte: Hi my name is Tony Conte I'm the chef at the Oval Room restaurant of Washington DC and we are going to show you how to make Thanksgiving dinner and first we are going to start with our turkey. This is a 14-16 pounds turkey, it is completely fresh and I like to use rubber gloves while I'm cutting our turkey for roasting and if you have rubber gloves that will be great and if not you can use your hands and then make sure that you wash them, after you have finished handling the turkey and the surface as well. This is a standard turkey and what we are going to do is fold the wing joints underneath, this will help keep the shape of the bird while it's cooking. The gizzards and the livers and heart is all been removed and most of the turkeys that we buy have this plastic piece that holds the drums together. I like to remove this and not roast the turkey with this on, we would use a piece of string to tie the legs together to keep it shaped. So, we can go ahead and remove this, it pops right out.

    We can then remove this little piece and then we are going to season the turkey with salt and white pepper and make sure that we season the cavity of the turkey as well. We will season there first, salt, white pepper. Then we are going to stuff the inside of the turkey with apples, you can use any type of apple you like, something that is sweet, we would prefer. So, this is our standard apple, we are just going to remove the core and then dice it into large pieces. The stuffing is just to flavor the bird, we will not use it anywhere else, so once the bird has been carved, it can be thrown out. We are just going to add this to our cavity, today we are using two apples to stuff the turkey. Also I like to use fresh herbs and for turkey, I like to use fresh thyme. So we have a bunch of thyme that we are going to stick inside the cavity as well. Once the cavity is stuffed we are going to tie the legs. I have a piece of butcher's twine, and we are just going to cross the legs and now, we are going to season the outside of the turkey with salt and white pepper. We are seasoning the bird heavily because while it's roasting and pasting, some of the salt is going to come off so we are going to need to make sure that there s a good amount of salt on it so that the skin is crispy and the bird is seasoned well, and making sure not to forget to do the backside and now our turkey is ready to be roasted.

    So our turkey is in a roasting pan, with a rack and we are now going to put into the oven that's been pre-set at 325 to roast for five to six hours. So our turkey has been in the oven for one hour and it has got some beautiful color on it, we are going to start to paste our turkey and every hour we are going rotate the pan so it gets an even cooking on it and we will paste every half hour until it's done and again we want to make sure we cook the turkey to 185 degrees and we are going to use a thermometer or we are going to check it by the drumstick joint. These are the drippings that we are going to use to create our gravy and that is our turkey and now we will let it roast for five to six hours, we will check it periodically and paste it. And now, I'm going to show you how to make stuffing.