Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Let’s Talk Turkey!


Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Will 20 relatives be roaming around your house waiting to taste the turkey or the pumpkin pie? We'll we have two of San Diego's premiere chefs in studio to answer your cooking questions and put any hosting anxieties to rest. And, we'll get wine recommendations from a local wine expert.

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Will 20 relatives be roaming around your house waiting to taste the turkey or the pumpkin pie? We'll we have two of San Diego's premiere chefs in studio to answer your cooking questions and put any hosting anxieties to rest. And, we'll get wine recommendations from a local wine expert.


Chef Melissa Mayer is the co-owner of Suzie's Farm.

Chef Bernard Guillas executive chef of the Marine Room in La Jolla.

Sara Hanson is a wine rep with Angeles Wine Agency and co-author of the wine blog, The Sarkus.

You can find more of Sara's suggestions for wine pairings with Thanksgiving dinner on our KPBS Culture Lust blog.

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and You're listening to These Days on KPBS. The aroma of Turkey slowly roasting in the oven, the vegetables steaming, gravy bubbling, all of the preparations for a big Thanksgiving meal are fabulous, if you know what you're doing. If you don't want, cooking for Thanksgiving can be nerve racking, and even if you're an old Turkey cooking pro, maybe there's something about the meal that just never turns out right or maybe you want to try something new. Today we have two San Diego chefs in studio to answer all your Thanksgiving cooking questions. And I'd like to welcome them, chef Bernard Guillas is executive chef of the marine room in La Jolla. Chef Bernard, welcome back.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Thank you very much, it's a pleasure to be here.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And chef Melissa Mayer, the co-owner of Suzie's farm, and it's a pleasure to see you. Good morning, Melissa.

MELISSA MAYER: Good morning, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Later in the program we'll be speaking with Sara Hanson, [CHECK AUDIO]. But right now I'd like to invite our listeners to join the conversation. What do you want to know about preparing a great Thanksgiving meal? When -- do you know how to pick the right sized Turkey for example? Do you know the right roasting temperature? When should you start the potatoes? Give us a call with your questions and your comments, our number is 1-888-895-5727. We, I think, have a tendency to go over board on Thanksgiving. So in the spirit of these tight economic times, chef Bernard, let me start with you, what are the staples people should have on their tables to make this a great Thanksgiving meal.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Well, of course you have to have a great Turkey. But Turkey, stuffing, relish, I I would say go to the market and gather some nice vegetables. And of course you need a nice pie. [CHECK AUDIO].


BERNARD GUILLAS: But you can still do this and stay in a budget. I would say ten people, for example, you have a family of about ten, for about $50 or $60, you would be able to feed everybody. So about $6 a person.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you think people have a tendency to go over board and maybe get too much in? And if indeed you're looking for an affordable way to have a Thanksgiving meal, you can just kind of pare back a little bit?

MELISSA MAYER: Yeah, well, going overboard is the American way. But that being said, I think it's very possible to scale it back and not just looking at Thanksgiving as we should absolutely have a Turkey. But what are your family favorites? So if you are on a budget, at least you're putting something on the table that excites you. But I definitely think having a bird on the table and mashed potatoes and a great pie and absolutely some gravy and stuffing, I think that those quintessential elements of Thanksgiving you can bring to the table at an affordable price without going overboard.


BERNARD GUILLAS: There's an easy way you can do it, you can just tell everybody, hey, it's pot luck, people. So you do the Turkey, you do the gravy, you do the mash and the veggies and say now, who's bringing the wine? And then somebody does the relish and the pies. So it makes really a fun event for everybody. And actually, Thanksgiving is gathering in celebration of life, so --

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly. Everybody participates of everybody some bring something along. That's a great idea. How, when if comes to getting the Turkey, the bird on the table as you say, is it okay to just go and buy a butter ball Turkey? Or do you recommend organic? Chef Melissa, what's your advice?

MELISSA MAYER: Well, of course I believe that you should definitely buy an organic bird. Of and pound for pound, the prices are generally right now, you know, maybe a dollar or $2 more per pound, but absolutely worth it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And why is it worth it?

MELISSA MAYER: Well, I'm just really big on traceability and knowing where my food comes from. So if I could find a source of Turkeys that I know that they raised the Turkeys humanely, and they were antibiotic free or they were Pasteur fed or Pasteur raised, excuse me, that would just make me feel better. And for me, that's my preference. And for a special occasion like Thanksgiving or holidays, I think it's important to maybe celebrate with something, you know, organic.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yeah, and does it actually taste better in.

BERNARD GUILLAS: The flavor profile is completely different. I would say the way the Turkey are federally -- will come into the flavor profile it. But you know, you have different Turkey available. [CHECK AUDIO] American Bronze would be 3 dollars and $0.89. The natural go to 299, then you have the kosher, because you have a lot of people who want to celebrate Thanksgiving, and when you look at the kosher one, it will be about $4 [CHECK AUDIO]. But the butter ball -- and I do agree with Melissa, you are what you eat. So it is very important to really look at that. That's a great approach?

A. Right, right I'm speaking with chef Bernard Guillas, and chef Melissa Mayer, and we are taking your Turkey cooking questions, the entire hour [CHECK AUDIO], 1-888-895-5727. Let's start the calls rolling with Steve in San Diego. Good morning, Steve, and welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Thank you. I decided this year to down size from Turkey to Cornish game hen, and I was wondering if the chef had any delicious recommendations for how to prepare them. Hopefully something with garlic butter and maybe some rosemary thrown in.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I think we've got it Steve.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Well, I think the way I would approach this, definitely you need to baste, baste, baste, and baste. You want to make sure that you retain all the moisture in your Cornish game hen. There is one thing that I like to do. I would take some mashed garlic, and I mix it with some sun dried apricot, and I like to put it right under the skin. So when you cook it, there's an infusion of flavors that goes into the breast meats and the thigh meats. And it's really fantastic. And you want to make sure that you stuff the cavity with a lot of beautiful herbs.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And this is just a smaller bird. Of what are cooking times like.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Most likely for a Cornish game hen, it will take you about 30 minutes at about 375-degree, but bottom line is, you need to make sure that the thickest part 've the thigh, your temperature reads about a hundred and 75 degreesful then you have to let it rest because you have the bone structure in the cavity, and it continues to cook by itself. If you over cook it, you're gonna have a dead bird.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A really dead bird. 1-888-895-5727 is the number to call with your Thanksgiving cooking questions. Let's go to Christi calling from La Jolla. Good morning, Christi, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning, thank you, I listened to the two chefs last year, and followed their directions for cooking a Turkey, and it was the best Turkey I have ever eaten, let alone cooked myself. So I just wanted to say thanks.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, what was different about this advice that really made that Turkey work for you.

NEW SPEAKER: Well, I had always just pretty much put it in the oven at 350 and let it cook, [CHECK AUDIO] 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the bird, then turn it down to 325, 350, then when it's cooked, take it out of the oven and don't touch it for 20 minutes so it can reabsorb the juices, and it was juicy and delicious.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Fabulous, thank you for calling in and telling us that.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Thank you so much.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes, that's wonderful. Tell us a little bit more about that idea of searing, because I do think that's a new idea for a lot of people. Chef Melissa?

MELISSA MAYER: Well, are the searing is supposed to capture and seal everything, and then you kind of do the low and slow to follow that, so --

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So in other words when you put your seasonings on the bird as chef Bernard was just telling us on the Cornish hens, when you do that for your Turkey, when you put the seasonings on the bird, maybe some butter and so forth, and you have that high temperature to begin with, that seals in those flavors; is that right?


BERNARD GUILLAS: Yeah, the way it works is you will have so much heat coming in, it's almost crisp. But it doesn't really crisp, it seal the whole Turkey. It's the same technique if you were doing a deep fried Turkey where the oil seals the whole bird, and then it cooks in fist own juice. [CHECK AUDIO]. Then take it down to thee hundred or 325 like the listener was saying. And it really works fantastic.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, I mean, we got --

MELISSA MAYER: One year later.

BERNARD GUILLAS: One year later, yeah.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Still remembers. We're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. And before we do take another call, for those people who are indeed getting a frozen Turkey, what are some suggestions for defrosting that Turkey in a safe way? How long should the defrosting take?

BERNARD GUILLAS: The best thing to do is to defrost it, I would say a 20-pound Turkey would be approximate for 24 hours, and that would be, I would say in a -- sealed in a cooler.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In the refrigerator?

BERNARD GUILLAS: Well, in the refrigerator, it's gonna be a little bit longer. I would say a couple days. But the best thing to do is you put it in a pot of water, and it would be about a half-hour per pound. That's the gauge. It's about half-hour per pound. The best thing is this, plan ahead, buy the Turkey like 3, 4, 5 days in advance, or buy fresh. Like this you will have no trouble.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And apparently you can't buy 3 or 4 days ahead right now, because this is the day before. If you want to buy fresh, are they available? I've heard people on waiting lists and they had to put their orders in earlier. If somebody just wants to go in today and get a fresh Turkey, will that be available do you think, chef Melissa?



MELISSA MAYER: You know you see those big coolers outside of whole foods, and those are full of Turkeys that are chilled at 26 degrees, which is by all Turkey standards not frozen. So you're not dealing with oh, my God, I need to defrost this Turkey in 24 hours. So my recommendation is to buy, you know, 26 degrees or fresh Turkeys, and you can get them right now at whole foods. That's my recommendation if you don't have a Turkey already. And that first is frozen, don't do the frozen 'cause generally the frozen are gonna be the likes of butter ball.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. Exactly right.

BERNARD GUILLAS: I agree a hundred percent. That's the way to do it. And whole foods is fantastic. I mean, talk about having the right product with the right company, they're really great.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's take another call. [CHECK AUDIO]. Tina is calling from Escondido. Good morning tina and welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning, it's nice to be able to hear the tips from the chefs themselves. First I want to make a plug for my favorite store is Jim bowo, they have natural groceries and they also have fresh Turkeys that are organic and naturally grown.

BERNARD GUILLAS: I agree. Love Jim bow's.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I think it's important to have everything natural and organic for that holiday celebration because our forefathers that started Thanksgiving certainly didn't use anything with preservatives or chemicals.

MELISSA MAYER: That's true.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: More you true to those days back then. Might have quick question is this, I'm actually cooking for a smaller group, so I'm not gonna do the whole Turkey, I'm gonna do the Turkey parts that are natural and organic, of course, but what's the best way to cook them? Can I cook my thighs and my breast in the same pot? You know, container. You know what I'm talking about. That I'm gonna use in the oven. How hot, how much cooler, how much less time since it's in the gonna be a whole bird?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Great question.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Well, I can tell you that the way I would approach it is the recipe of my sister. And we don't have Thanksgiving in France, but what we have is we have Christmas, and on Christmas eve, my sister does the Turkey. Of and she raises Turkey as well. So the way she approach it is she bone the Turkey, it means that you have the breasts and you have the legs. So the legs are thigh are comfy, means that she cooks it in extra virgin olive oil -- [CHECK AUDIO] but 220 degrees, that's it. So you cook it for a long time.


BERNARD GUILLAS: I would say about five how longs. And you add a bit of garlic and bay leaf and time, and tons of aromatic, and she covers it, it just cooks very, very slowly. So that means [CHECK AUDIO] she butterfly the breast, then she makes her stuffing in advance. So the stuffing is done, let's say usually she does the sausage and grew year stuffing, so when she -- [CHECK AUDIO] and thissen she rolls it. So then she places it into a roasting pan with no oil whatsoever on the bottom, so this thing becomes a seal, and then puts a little bit of butter on top, and all the wood vegetable around in the oven. And you will cook it I do believe about 350 degrees for a full pound breast. Because it's stuffed it would be, I would say, one hour and 15 minutes or so. But the bottom line is, after 45 minutes, you check the temperature, you want the internal temperature to be a hundred and 65 degrees and that's it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. What a wonderful recipe. I know a lot of people don't want to cook a whole Turkey because they're not having that mean people or they want a different kind of a take on a Turkey meal. That's fabulous. We have a lot of other fabulous things we're dona be talking about. We're talking about Thanksgiving cooking, my guests are chef Bernard Guillas and chef Melissa Myer. And we're talking your calls and we'll continue to after this short break. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, You're listening to These Days on KPBS. When do you want to know about preparing a great Thanksgiving meal? Well, we're talking all about it, this whole hour on These Days. My guest is -- my guests are Bernard Guillas, he is executive chef of the marine room in La Jolla, and chef Melissa Myer is co-owner of Suzie's farm. We're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. And let's take a call to start off with, Jerry is calling from downtown San Diego. Jerry, good morning ask welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Thank you. We just moved into a house with double convection ovens, and I'm wondering whether we should use the convection oven settings on these to cook a Thanksgiving, and if so, what changes should we make and what should we expect as a result?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay, thank you, anyone want to take that?

MELISSA MAYER: You can definitely use the convection oven settings, but you want to lower the temperature, because you've got those fans creating the air, it's gonna [CHECK AUDIO] just do your general settings. So if you were gonna cook the Turkey at 350 on a convection, you would want to really lower the temperature to 300, 325. But I say do it traditional and don't use the convection settings.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oh, okay. Don't even bother with the convection settings. Just have that roast?

MELISSA MAYER: Just for a safety measure.

BERNARD GUILLAS: I tend to agree. And it has a tendency to sort of dry out the Turkey. So you will be in the oven, into the oven and basting. [CHECK AUDIO].

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I know when I was growing up, my mom stuffed the cavity of the Turkey with the stuffing, and I think a lot of people still do that. And I know that that perhaps is not what should be done so tell us more about it, chef Bernard.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Well, if you look at the Turkey and the stuffing itself, I do not like to put the stuffing inside the Turkey. A couple of reason is because you still have the dripping and the blood coming into that stuffing, the stuffing can be kind of soggy. And sometimes it becomes a little bit sour so I really don't care for it. I prefer to put a lot of aromatics in it, and do my stuffing on the side. So this is much mercontrolled environment, I would say.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So what do you put inside the Turkey instead, chef Melissa?

MELISSA MAYER: Well, I totally agree with chef Bernard, I would put in aromatics such as onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and those are gonna provide plenty of moisture. I think the idea of putting stuffing in your bird is so that it would create more moisture, but that's kind of a myth. You know? So what you really want to do is provide extra flavor, and those aromatics are gonna provide probably just as much if not more concentrated flavor than a stuffing would.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And how do you get that nice crispy bolden top.

BERNARD GUILLAS: You put it in a nice baking dish with a lot of love, and you bake it about 350 degrees, then the 50 few minutes, you raise it to I would say 455. [CHECK AUDIO] and put a little bit of butter on the top. Just dot it. Like this will bring a beautiful flavor.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's what creates the crust.

BERNARD GUILLAS: That's it. [CHECK AUDIO] and I agree with you, there's nothing better than having a nice portion of stuffing when you can steal the top.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And the chef gets to do that.

BERNARD GUILLAS: That's it. That's why we have the kitchen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Renee is calling from San Diego, good morning Renee and welcome to Thanksgiving.

NEW SPEAKER: Thank you so much, thanks for taking my call. I hope this isn't a silly question, but I love the idea of searing the Turkey. And a couple of the recipes I've seen actually suggest that you seer the Turkey, you know, breast side down, and then flip it back over for the cooking, which I can do, but I have a 20-pound Turkey and that's a little daunting to think of. So I wanted to know whether I need to flip it in searing it. Of.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thanks for the question. Chef Melissa?

MELISSA MAYER: You can absolutely do that. And I'm hoping that you're gonna be cooking with some other people so you'll have help to flip the bird.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Flipping the bird! Oh, my goodness.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Or you have to cancel your work out that morning.

MELISSA MAYER: There you go.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A 20-pound bird, that's a lot. Are you gonna have any help Renee?

NEW SPEAKER: Well, I'll have my husband, I'm not sure if he signed up for bird flipping duty. I'll have help eating it.

BERNARD GUILLAS: I want to talk to you about the technique itself. If you cook it breast side down, it works really well because you're bringing a lot -- you draw a lot of the moisture into the breast. And when you flip it, you are able to finish it really on the leg and do all the baiting. But the catch 22, and for safety reasons, I would say it's much better to do it the other way around. And if you put it breast side up in the oven, you don't have to deal with it and it's much easier. But if your husband can help you out, [CHECK AUDIO] yes, and I would say when you start breast side down, I would say about one and a half hour on the breast and then you flip it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Renee, thanks for the call. Ian and calling from Solana beach, good morning, Ian and welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning, Maureen, a type of Turkey I enjoy is not Turkey. And I wonder if the chefs had any ideas about searing before you put the Turkey into the smoker.

BERNARD GUILLAS: All right, so when it comes to smoked Turkey, I did it. And I also did it on the beach. And it's really -- it's very important that you first of all, a grace bark cue, because I did it on a barbecue. So you need to have a roasting pan, in the pan you make sure you have a little bit of water, and put some celery ribs, then you make sure that your grill is about, I would say, about 325, and you need to oil that grill up at 325, 350. Then you take your wood chips, wood chips are supposed to be soaked, otherwise they will burn at that heat. But I like to soak it in apple cider, it brings a really wonderful flavor. And with your chips, I like to add thyme, you add some other aromatics, it really bring ace my flavor to the Turkey, and same thing, you need to cook it all the way to a hundred and 65, and you need to make sure that it rests afterwards, and you need to continue to baste it, even though you smoke it, it needs to be baste.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We're talking about smoking Turkey, people grill, barbecue Turkey, some people deep fry it. I want to get your feelings on how to do that if people should do it and how to do it safely so we'll start with you, chef Melissa on grilling and barbecuing a Turkey. How does that work?

MELISSA MAYER: Well, you have to be a little careful because it's a little harder to control the temperature. And are you grilling in a roasting pan or are you grilling it, you know, right on the grill or on the frame? My recommendation is, if you're gonna grill a bird, mike sure it's a smaller bird, you can kind of control it a little bit more. And as far as deep frying, just make sure you know your local fire department's phone number.


BERNARD GUILLAS: I think the deep frying still does working but you have to be safe. [CHECK AUDIO] your bird has to be defrosted or has to be fresh. You make sure that there is no water anywhere on that bird. If you want to, I would say, add more flavor into the bird, what I have done, I take only fresh herbs, so I will add the thyme, the rosemary, and all those aromatics, I would put it in the cavity and I seal it. So I take a fled of just something and seal itself. Then you put it into the deep fryer. Now you should use peanut oil, or you should use grape seed oil. There are a lot of people who are allergic to peanut. So if you use grape seed, it's no problem. The woman line is, it needs to be at 300 and [CHECK AUDIO] and it's three minutes per pound. Of very, very quick.


BERNARD GUILLAS: Yeah, very fast. You make sure there are no pets around, no kids around, and one thing you want to do, you need to stay there the whole time during the cooking process. And this you have no trouble.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is it worth it? All this process.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Yes, it's amazing. That Turkey will come out so juicy and, it is amazing. Amazing. [CHECK AUDIO].

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. So cross our fingers. We're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Let's hear from Laurel, calling from Solana beach, good morning, Laurel, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning, thank you. I have a question. It seems like brining has been a big thing lately, and I just wonder if it's better to brine or not to brine. And then my second question is, my mom always put a tent on her Turkey.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A tent. In the oven?

NEW SPEAKER: Yeah, with foil, tented across, so she doesn't have to baste it so oven. And I was wondering what they thought.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Brine or not to brine? Chef Melissa?

MELISSA MAYER: I like brining.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And what does that mean?

MELISSA MAYER: Basically it's a solution of water, sugar, and salt, and maybe some aromatics, seasonings if you would like. And it's gonna basically create some more moisture and some more flavor for the bird. But if you don't have time to brine or you don't have room to brine, it's not necessary. And there's other ways to, you know, baiting your bird and putting savories in the cavity, those are other ways to create more flavor for the bird, so it's in the necessary. But if you have the room to brine, I recommend anywhere from, you know, 6 to 24 hours, about you no more than 24 hours.


BERNARD GUILLAS: And if you want to jazz it up, this the way I approach it, cinnamon, apple cider, a little bit of garlic, some time and aromatics. And would be one type of brine. We used to do that as a kid with my mother in Brittany. This is another way that is very, very cool, you take a pomegranate juice as your brining solution. [CHECK AUDIO] and I gotta tell you, that brining is amazing because you have a Turkey, when you put it in the oven, it's gone be, like, purple, that's kind of strange, you know?


BERNARD GUILLAS: But when it cooks, the skin backs so Christmaspy, and it's amazing. I also like to put in that brining solution a bit of lavender for example. And with the pomegranate, it really brings a really beautiful flavor. So you can really play.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And when you have Briened your Turkey, do you just cook it the same way you would cook it if you didn't brine it?

BERNARD GUILLAS: Yes, but you cannot cook it at a high heat, otherwise the skin will burn. So you need to stay at 325. And remember, yes, you're gonna say oh, I spent all that money on that brine, can I use that brine? It's no. You need to discard the brine. It's not reusable.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Fair enough. Okay. We're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. My guests are chef Bernard Guillas, and chef Melissa Myer, and we're talking Turkey and the fixins for tomorrow. Cal is calling us from [CHECK AUDIO].

NEW SPEAKER: I have a question, I'm gonna use maple in a fantastic recipe I found, I'm worried that the maple is going to brine the Turkey skin too quickly, and if I put it on the skin, underneath the skin rather, on the meat, then I'm gonna start breaking the skin, and the Turkey's not gonna be so attractive when I take it out.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. What do we think about that? Do you want to break the skin? Unattractive Turkey?

BERNARD GUILLAS: Oh, I life my Turkey to be sexy. Are you kidding me? What I would do, I would take the maple, but you will need to make your maple with another solution, so let's say apple and maybel goes well together. This is where you want to be sure that you cook it no more than thee hundred and 25, I would say cook it at 300 degrees. So if it's a 20-pound duringy at 325, it will take you five hours to cook. So remember that five heurs, but the bottom line is, you baste, and if you want, you can tent. The tenting really will prevent that carmelization. And one thing you should do with your oven first, you bake some cookies on a cookie sheet. So at least you know if you have a hot spot in your oven. If you have a hot spot, you need to take that roasting pan and every 20 minutes to a half-hour, [CHECK AUDIO] it's fan fastic, and when it's doning it's like oh, it's shiny and yet crispy, and you have a beautiful -- that beautiful nutty flavor. So far it's fantastic.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And just that general question, chef Melissa, about tenting, the woman who had two questions, I'm sorry I forgot her name. Had two questions, and the second one was about tenting in the oven. What do you think about that?

MELISSA MAYER: Well, I'm not necessarily partial to a fail tent 'cause I'm not big on cooking with aluminum foil, but, you know, if you're doing it witness a year, no harm, no fault.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What does it do? Does it keep the --

MELISSA MAYER: Well, you know, you're gonna be -- like she said she didn't want to do too much baiting so the tent would basically seal in that moisture.


MELISSA MAYER: And then as you're getting closer to the end, you're gonna lift that tent off so the bird is still gonna brown in the end. So you know, it's definitely gonna seal in the moisture, versus baiting. I'm more on the baiting versus the tenting. But that's just my preference.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And chef Bernard, baste, baste, baste, right?

BERNARD GUILLAS: Yeah, and this is the deal though, about the tenting, is if for example, you kind of forget about the Turkey for an hour and a half, which you should not, then it will start to dry. [CHECK AUDIO] you put a loose piece of foil on it, you don't wrap it. But by doing so, you also capture all the moisture this is comes from the roasting pan, and that moisture gets trapped under the aluminum foil and really protects that skin.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. Exactly. We have to take a short break, and when we return, we'll continue talking Turkey and welcome a new guest to talk about wine. A wonderful addition to the Thanksgiving meal, and continue to take your calls at 1-888-895-5727. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.

Welcome back, I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, You're listening to These Days on KPBS. And our two chefs have been talking about cooking accident preparing the big Thanksgiving meal, and taking your questions, my guests, chef Bernard Guillas, executive chef of the marine room in La Jolla, and chef Melissa Myer, copartner at Suzie's farm. And we're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Right now I'd like to welcome a new guest, Sara Hanson is wine rep with Angeles wine agency and coauthor of the wine blog, the Sarkus. Good morning, Sara.

SARA HANSON: Good morning. Thank you for having me on the show.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You know, wines an important part of the Thanksgiving feast. And I'm wondering what you would recommend. Starting off, perhaps, with sparkling wine since it's a festive occasion.

SARA HANSON: Sparkling wines are a great way to kick things off. There are so many fantastic bubbly options available these days. God, it's almost saturated. For a drier, crisper style, Kava from Spain is a really nice choice. Prosecco tends to have a little bit more fruit, a little bit sweeter. Sparkling wine from the new world really runs the gamut with varietals and styles but lots of great options there. And then of course for the ultimate experience in tradition and quality, there's champagne.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Absolutely. Do you save the champagne till the end of the meal, or should you eat it with the Turkey?

SARA HANSON: All three. Before, during, after.

BERNARD GUILLAS: As soon as you arrive. There's one thing I like about the bubbles, a like the rosé. A nice rosé with Turkey. What do you think?

SARA HANSON: I could not agree more.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That sounds great. You're partial to Beaujolais; is that right, with the meal?

SARA HANSON: I am a huge Beaujolais fan, and you know, a lot of people, not just myself, think that Beaujolais is the quintessential Thanksgiving wine.


SARA HANSON: [CHECK AUDIO] great red fruit, they just really stand up to the corn Copia of flavors on the Thanksgiving table.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. Because there's a lot going on in this meal. Of a lot of different flavors, and that's why you like the Beaujolais with the Thanksgiving meal.


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If somebody doesn't want a Beaujolais, how would you steer them.

SARA HANSON: Well, God forbid. Pino noir is always -- [CHECK AUDIO] you can't go wrong. Can in the old world and in the new world, I would recommend both. It tends to be a little pricey. So be wary if you are heading out nothe pino noir --

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What are the price options for people who want to have something elegant to drink but still don't want to spend a lot of money?

SARA HANSON: You know, [CHECK AUDIO] a motion right now, it's a Sonoma county pino, and I think it's under $20. Of third corner in Oceanside beach and Encinitas, they usually have some very affordable options, there's usually good value in Oregon with Oregon pinos.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you ever choose your wine for its color on the table.

SARA HANSON: Not really. I mean, rosays are beautiful and delicious and pair with everything. But usually the color of the wines --

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Not your first --

SARA HANSON: It's usually secondary. It's beautiful to observe and so what's going on with it.


BERNARD GUILLAS: But I think besides the pino noir and the Beaujolais, and I love the Beaujolais, you know, I'm a Frenchman, but I like the grenache as well or a sangiovese because those are light bodied wines that I believe would work really well. So when you're at home, you can really have a lot of fun and experiment. But not the big wine because the bird doesn't --

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Not the big wine. I understand your point, [CHECK AUDIO] lovely cooked bird, your sexy bird.


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: 1-888-895-5727 is the number to call. Jacky is calling from San Diego. Good morning, Jacky, and welcome to These Days. Jacky, are you on with us? Oh. Jacky, are you in the midst of preparing a Turkey?

NEW SPEAKER: Hi. I just wanted to say that debting is wonderful, but not with foil. May I suggest a three-generation activity, which was a brown paper bag, heavy duty brown paper, it's wonderful, it also keeps the moisture in, and it also helps with the coloring of the Turkey. That's all.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

MELISSA MAYER: Maybe besides, 'cause we didn't really mention an alternative.


MELISSA MAYER: Cheese cloth is actually a really awesome way to keep the moisture in. You just lay the cheese cloth on the top of the breasts.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Or parchment paper.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And they won't burn up with a brown paper bag.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Not at that heat, you're okay.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Kent is on the line from San Diego. Of good morning, kent, and welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning, just two questions. First question is, are you placing some of these recipes on the KPBS website, and second question, is it possible to cook the Turkey, rotisserie style in a barbecue, and would you recommend that?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay, we're working on that first question, let's talk about the rotisserie style with the chefs. Is that possible?

BERNARD GUILLAS: Yeah, go ahead.

MELISSA MAYER: Well, I love the idea, absolutely. And I think it's a fantastic way to really create more rounded flavor with the bird.

BERNARD GUILLAS: 12 to 16 pounds, no more than that.

MELISSA MAYER: Right. Smaller.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You have to have smaller birds.

BERNARD GUILLAS: And you have to make sure that -- study your rotisserie to make sure that the bird really will fit and you have no trouble.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to ask you both, before we get on to desert wines that we're gonna talk about with shara, I want to ask you both, what if you're sort of, like, facing a dilemma? The guests have arrived, and your Turkey is nowhere near where it needs to be? Is there any way that you can speed that up or help yourself out of that?



MELISSA MAYER: I think we're in agreement here. Cocktails, wine and maybe some hors d'oeuvres so that you're not drinking too much on an empty stomach. But I think that if you're there to celebrate and it's a communal time, if you need a little more time, there's, you know, keep the cocktails coming with some hors d'oeuvres, and the champagne is always a great way to sustain everybody while the bird needs maybe 20, 30 more minutes.

BERNARD GUILLAS: And it's all about the planning, if you know your guests are coming at 10:00 o'clock, maybe sure the bird is ready by 12 so you plan that way so you have that 30 minutes --

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Because it's used to let it sit. Okay.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Yes, and that's the -- that would be, I would say, a good way to avoid that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How about if you have misplanned, and indeed, the opposite problem that your Turkey is done a little bit ahead of time? Is there any way that you can gain some time by -- and still keep your Turkey fresh? I mean, moist and not dried out? Cocktails again?

MELISSA MAYER: Well, I would rather have my Turkey done ahead of time. It's almost inevitable that the Turkey's gonna be done later. Maybe you just keep it in an oven, you could even have the oven off. And it's still gonna be warm enough.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But I think people are afraid it's gonna dry out. Baste with butter.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Baste, baste, baste. And make sure that -- yes, you have to plan properly, and remember, it could be only ten people coming in, but what if you have, like, 35 people coming into the house? If you don't plan properly, you're gonna be in trouble. If you have 35 people coming in, my advice, you can use this for next year, you make a list for everything you need for that event, and put a time Hine on it, and that's it. Put it on the fridge, you see it every day. It's not like you go to a party and they say, oh, I need a bottle of champagne. And the company forgot that. They have to go to the store. It's not cool. Just -- if you man ahead, you will have no trouble.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's the best thing to do. Let's take another call, Yasher is calling from San Diego, Yasher, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Thank you for having me. I was actually -- I just wanted to say that it's such a delight to have chef Bernard on your program every time I'm here.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, we're delighted too.

NEW SPEAKER: He has a way of making everything sound so delicious, and like he says, a sexy bird.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Yeah, it has to be. But I have to tell you, the most important thing is, this is the day that you gather with your families and friends and this is a day that you really want to celebrate life. So by having a fantastic Turkey as well as gathering and a corn Copia of wonderful foods, it really is the spirit of Thanksgiving. And that's why I love that day more than any other days in the year.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And for our previous -- oh, thank you for the call.

NEW SPEAKER: I was just gonna say that the way that my mother cooks the Turkey is she normally puts a big green apple with a little bit of salt and pepper inside of it and outside of it, and she puts it in the oven with foil over it, and it comes out fantastic.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you, thank you for your call very much, I appreciate T. I wanted to say for our previous caller that we will have a transcript of our conversation on line, so you can hunt down the recipes there. We won't actually have a separate part for the recipes, but it will be part of the transcript. That will be on line at Sara, we talked about the wines to have with the meal of let's talk about desert wines. What would you suggest for that? Besides more champagne?

SARA HANSON: Well, I think it depends on which pie flavor you're going for. I think with pumpkin, sherry can be nice.


SARA HANSON: With apple, a little muskat is always good, and then with chocolate, you go port.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Ah, very nice. Very good idea. Oh, that's a meal!

BERNARD GUILLAS: Isn't it though? I also want to bring up that with some of these wines, what you can do is you can use those wines as a base of making a gravy. So like this, you can incorporate not only the recipe of making the Turkey, but also some of the wine. And wine usually becomes a conversation. And it's really neat because it really puts that whole gathering to another level, which is -- that food wine, fun, family.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So what wines will work for gravy? I mean, in making gravy.

BERNARD GUILLAS: That port will working for example, if you have some marsala, some vermouth.


BERNARD GUILLAS: And sherry is just fantastic.

SARA HANSON: My grandmother always used sherry in her sweet potato souffle.

BERNARD GUILLAS: Oh, yeah, sherry and maple is just fantastic. Talking about pies, I love to do a sweet potato pie instead of a pumpkin pie.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And why is that?

BERNARD GUILLAS: If you use a kabocha, for example, you have exactly the same, I would say, flavor profile, but I put rum in it, and it really jazzes it up. Or maple is fantastic. Or use kabocha, which is that green squash. It has a little bit of starch, and it's very sweet.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I wanted to ask you, chef Melissa, how do you do a pie crust without perhaps using, you know, something heavily in transfats like Crisco or shortening?

MELISSA MAYER: It's pretty simple. Butter. You do an all butter crust, all butter pastry flour, and your not gonna get as flaky of a crust, but it's still gonna have all that decadence that you like from a pie crust. For me, I think if you just replace the transfat with more butter. It does work, yeah.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You go for the pure fat.

MELISSA MAYER: But they do have trans fat free shortenings now. I'm not, you know, the hugest fan, but they are available. And then you can, you know, supplement with butter. But also, chef Bernard was talking about the sweet potato pie. And you can do that with a, you know, ginger bread or ginger snap crust or even like the simple gram cracker crust. So you don't necessarily have to stick to the traditional crust. [CHECK AUDIO].

BERNARD GUILLAS: Now for the vegetarians, for the pie, instead of the eggs, you can use flax seeds and instead of butter, you could use an oil. And that would be a fantastic way to make your crust, for example. And when it comes to your moist ear, you can use a soy cream cheese. And if you still want to enjoy the Turkey, you can use the to few -- [CHECK AUDIO] and I love it now. I really do. So you can really jazz up the flavor with spices and aromatics. The other way you can do is -- another product which is say tin, say tin is a vegetarian food from a [CHECK AUDIO] and it's very high in gluten, and it's really, really really good. It's just amazing.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I gotta tell you, we are out of time. We spent so much time and gave so much good advice about cooking Turkeys, I want to thank you all so much. You've made us so hungry. And so ready for Thanksgiving. Chef Bernard, thank you so much.

BERNARD GUILLAS: My pleasure and don't forget. I love these spark handwriting bubbles, especially the rosé with my sexy Turkey.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Chef Melissa Myer thank you.

MELISSA MAYER: Oh, my pleasure and I totally agree with Bernard, rosé, sparkling bubbles, all day. Happy Thanksgiving?

A. And Sara Hanson, thank you.

SARA HANSON: Thank you very much, it was a pleasure being here.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Please go on-line to comment and to read the recipes in our transcript. Days. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.