Talking Turkey: Top San Diego Chefs Give Advice
DOUG MYRLAND (Host): I’m Doug Myrland, sitting in for Maureen Cavanaugh These Days in San Diego. Well, are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Will 20 relatives be roaming around your house waiting to taste the turkey or the pumpkin pie? Well, today we have two of San Diego's premiere chefs in the studio to answer our cooking questions and put those hosting anxieties to rest. We'll talk turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes and pie today on These Days. Our guests are chef Bernard Guillas, executive chef of the Marine Room in La Jolla. Chef Bernard, welcome.
BERNARD GUILLAS (Executive Chef, Marine Room, La Jolla): Thank you. Nice to be here.
MYRLAND: And Chef Brian Malarkey was a contestant on Top Chef, formerly the executive chef at Oceanaire and currently in the process of opening a new restaurant in the Gaslamp. Chef Brian, welcome.
BRIAN MALARKEY (Former Executive Chef, Oceanaire): Thank you so much.
MYRLAND: So let’s just start with a big economic question. You know, everybody’s thinking about their budget this year and we’re wondering, do we just have a tendency to go way too far overboard on Thanksgiving? Are there some simpler ways, more economic ways to think about the big Thanksgiving meal? Let’s start with you, Chef Bernard.
GUILLAS: Well, I think that, you know, Thanksgiving is a very special day in the United States and, you know, for a transplant like me from Europe to be here, I really appreciate that and I love that day. When it comes to economics, I think that when you look at everyone will celebrate the day so you will have sellout, you will have turkey, you will have your cranberry relish, your gravy, sweet potato, mashed potato, green beans and asparagus. And, of course, the pumpkin pie.
MYRLAND: So you think that it’s a – if any time is a time to splurge a little, it’s Thanksgiving.
MALARKEY: No, no, no, this – I have this one down right here. First of all, turkeys are very affordable, nothing’s ever cheap, things are very affordable. And the secret word here is potluck, you know, have every – hold everybody accountable, have everybody bring a little something and then it doesn’t hurt your pocketbook that bad at all.
GUILLAS: That’s very true. It’s a good way to do it. And it’s true, if you look at turkey and you shop properly, you can have a great deal in having a really good quality turkey.
MYRLAND: Well, I want to talk about how to choose the right turkey and the differences among them but I also want to remind our listeners that you’re invited to participate in this conversation too, your comments and questions, let’s talk about Thanksgiving at 1-888-895-5727. Now I’ve cooked a lot of turkeys over the years, often hosted Thanksgiving at my house, and sometimes I’ve bought a relatively expensive, fresh bird. Other times, I’ve bought one frozen. I’ve tried brining them. I have to say that I haven’t really noticed a lot of qualitative difference among turkeys. Am I just sort of insensitive or are they all kind of alike? Brian?
MALARKEY: I’m actually -- You know, I’m – I have a new baby and I grew up on a large ranch with the family and we always used to have the Butterball that was like just stuffed with butter and hormones and, you know, whatever else, so this year, you know, a new child and everything, I’m really trying to get a real nice naturally raised turkey so I’m going to have to give you my answer after this, but I’ve always kind of thought it’s with the great gravies and the great marinades or the flavors or the seasonings that you put on the turkey is where you’re going to get most of your flavor. So, you know, I firmly believe that you can take any bird and install great flavor with it. It’s just, you know, just taking it one step up with the sauce, the accompaniments.
MYRLAND: Now I mentioned brining and that’s something I’ve done several times and I think it adds moisture but Chef Bernard, am I just fooling myself? Just making myself feel good by letting it sit in that salt water overnight?
GUILLAS: Oh, no, you’re not fooling yourself but I would like to add something about turkeys and the quality. Try to find something who’s going to be natural. It doesn’t have to be organic but something natural so – such as the Diestel turkey who are farm raised in Sonora, California. They’re available at Whole Food, at Tip Top and other places, and those really will retain a lot of the juices compared to, let’s say, the mass farmed turkey. When it comes to brining, I love to brine but there’s two ways to do it. You can do salt and water only or you do it my way. You take a little bit of maple syrup, some sea salts, some cider…
MALARKEY: You throw in the sugar, ah, yes, very…
GUILLAS: You put some cider, some herbs, some sage, some pepper, some starnise, and you put it in a resealable bag and the best thing to do it is you put it into an ice chest because you want that turkey to be safe, and cover it with ice and like this, you will have no problem. It will be just beautiful.
MYRLAND: You can do it in the refrigerator, too.
GUILLAS: Well, yeah, you have to have a big fridge, though.
MALARKEY: Big fridge.
GUILLAS: Yeah, especially if it is a big turkey. But when it comes to cooking, most likely it will cook much better because it will seal all the juices inside and it will cook a little bit quicker that the regular turkey.
MALARKEY: And it will add a much nicer texture on the skin also with the sugar and the salt, you’re adding all that, that’s going to kind of stay on the skin after you remove it from the brine.
MYRLAND: Well, let’s talk about that, though, because isn’t there a danger that with too much sugar on the skin that you end up burning? Creating too much carmelization? I mean, because a turkey’s in the oven a long time.
GUILLAS: Yeah, but, you know, you have to cook it with love so the way you do it first is you dry it nicely out of the brine. Then you give it a massage with a lot of butter like, as Julia would say…
MALARKEY: Like the – like the Kobe – the Kobe of turkey.
GUILLAS: …butter, butter, butter.
MALARKEY: Yeah, I like it. Can we serve the turkey beer at this point also?
GUILLAS: Umm. And then what you do is you have to baste and if you baste every 10 to 15 minutes, it will not burn. Now, 325 degrees is a perfect temperature.
MYRLAND: So that’s a little less hot oven than you often see recommended.
GUILLAS: Yeah, you see usually 350. At 375, you kill the turkey twice. You don’t want to do that. No pun intended. But what you want to do is you want to tent it with foil. Put a loose piece of foil on top of it and, like this, it would be – it roasts really, really nice.
MALARKEY: And then remove that foil 15 minutes before you serve it, baste it up again, and then you can really, you know, finish off that nice crispy skin right at the end. But you’re keeping it kind of a little bit of a steam moisture, not so much direct dry heat.
MYRLAND: Okay, so as I say in school, let’s review. You want to – You recommend brining it either in the refrigerator or an ice chest.
MYRLAND: Preferably with both salt and some kind of sugar element. A 325 oven, so a pretty slow oven. You like basting, you both agree on the basting.
GUILLAS: Basting is the key. You need to baste. If you don’t baste, you will not get the moisture and you would not get the beautiful carmelization and the beautiful skin.
MALARKEY: And you don’t – I mean, you don’t have to be all fancy. Just get one of those fancy little basters with the little ball on the end of it and, wsshhhtt, suck it up and let it go. You’re putting all the moisture that’s coming out, you’re kind of putting back on top of it.
MYRLAND: And when…
MALARKEY: I’m learning a lot from this also, so I’m listening to Chef Bernard.
MYRLAND: And when do you put the tent on?
GUILLAS: I would say, you know, you should tent it after two hours so in two hours already you will have a little bit of color but sometimes it doesn’t really get that much color. The problem that we have in most ovens is that our ovens at home are not calibrated. So it’s at 325 but you may be at 350 or 345, so the thing that you should do is buy a oven thermometer to make sure that your oven is perfect.
MYRLAND: And if nothing else, that oven thermometer will make you feel like you chose the right oven if it ends up being perfect, right? I have an old, old, old gas oven and I put an oven thermometer in it and it’s dead on. It’s like it’s been dead on since 1959.
MALARKEY: That’s it.
MALARKEY: That’s quality.
MYRLAND: So anyway, I want to ask one more turkey question. Martha Stewart has said that you should take that turkey out and get it at room temperature for a couple of hours before you cook it. Now, some people are worried about maybe a little food safety issue there. What do you guys think about that?
MALARKEY: I’m – After cooking a turkey for three – three to four hours, whatever it is, I’m hungry. I’m ready to eat. I don’t think I have the patience of Martha Stewart or I don’t have her team that comes in and maybe prepares the bird early for her. But I think, you know, 20 minutes resting is all that that bird really needs.
MYRLAND: No, but I mean before you cook it. Once you take it out of the…
MALARKEY: Oh, yeah, bringing it to room temperature, I think, is very important.
GUILLAS: Yeah, if you bring it to room temperature but I would not go more than two hours, I gotta tell you. I figure, you know, to keep it safe and for everyone out there, why don’t you keep it really no more than one hour outside before you start roasting it because we do not know what is the temperature of your kitchen and in your home. So to avoid any food borne illness, the best actually would be that you just prepare the turkey. By the time that you prepare it, a half hour’s going to go through, by the time you’re putting the butter and the seasoning and everything else and you set everything up into your roasting pan. And by the way, a really good thing about getting extra flavor for your gravy is take some celery ribs and as well as some carrots and line the bottom of the roasting pan before you put the bird on it. It has two things, it will roast really nicely, protect the bottom of the bird from burning, and really gives great fragrance, great flavor.
MALARKEY: And a great carmelization…
MALARKEY: …you know, so as that gets down there, I like that beautiful…
MYRLAND: So not a – not really a classic mirepoix but just celery roots.
MALARKEY: Celery, carrots, throw in some onions if you like. I mean, you know.
GUILLAS: I didn’t know that you knew mirepoix. Very good.
MALARKEY: I’m impressed.
GUILLAS: This is good.
MYRLAND: I think that’s about the only French I can speak.
GUILLAS: Yeah, but I gotta tell you, and no accent.
MYRLAND: And just to really get detailed here, any tips about basting or just any old thing, a bulb baster or a big spoon or…
GUILLAS: You know, I use a spoon. I just get a spoon and I just – it’s always weird for me to have that little thing that you squeeze on and get the juice out. Just I take the spoon and I just do it all over and…
MALARKEY: The spoon’s the easiest way but it’s amazing how many – I mean, I go – I’m kind of floating around doing some catering right now and it seems like no matter if it’s, you know, a modest house or a multi-million dollar mansion on the hill, they’ve all got one of those things in their drawer.
MYRLAND: I want to ask you one more bird question because as simple as it seems to cook a turkey, we’ve got quite a few steps here outlined. What do you think about turning the bird? Christopher Kimball from Cooks Illustrated is really always talking about you’ve got to turn them. Start them on their side and them put them on the other side and then turn them up. I haven’t heard you mention that. Are you not a believer in that, Chef Brian?
MALARKEY: I am. My stepmother actually, a long time ago when she was cooking her bird, she started it with the breast down because all – the spine has all the great like the marrow, all the really great oils and all of that, and there’s no meat there, so let’s make all of that great oil and stuff run down into the breast. And then when she was halfway done – I don’t think you have to go side to side, there’s nothing over there we’re really trying to cook except the delicate wing and leg and that’s not going to do much. But I kind of like the idea of cooking it with the breast down first so all the moisture runs into your breast where you want it, where the white meat dries out most, and then flipping it at the, you know, halfway point and then cooking that in there. I think it’s a great idea. I mean, it makes common sense.
GUILLAS: I think it’s a great idea if you have a small bird. If you have a really big bird, you’ll still have a – you’ll still have to be very careful that there will be no injury on yourself because the oven is hot and everything. And, you know, when you look at it, you know, it’s – I just like to keep it exactly the way it is because my turkey, she doesn’t work at the Cirque du Soleil so she doesn’t flip and turn and be on upside down. But shouldn’t you just – I just keep it simple. Leave the little bird alone…
MALARKEY: I’m not saying I flip it, I just heard it was a good idea and I’m like I’d consider it someday but…
MYRLAND: So let’s…
MALARKEY: It’s a nice option but don’t – I don’t think there’s four corners to a bird. If anything, there might be two. But like Bernard said, keep it simple and don’t be intimidated by your turkey most of all.
GUILLAS: That’s right.
MYRLAND: Well, as long as you’re basting…
MALARKEY: Salt and pepper’s all you really need in the long run but you can certainly add a lot more.
MYRLAND: As long as you’re basting it that often, if you really feel compelled, you can flip it once, so…
GUILLAS: Well, there’s other ways to really cook a turkey. So you look, for example, at the grilling and barbequing.
GUILLAS: So if you grill or barbeque your turkey, you put it into your roasting pan, make sure you have about 350 degrees and you use a bit of wood chips and then you will have that smokiness will come into the techniques.
MALARKEY: It’s a great way to do it in San Diego. I mean, it’s – I think it’s 70, 75 degrees at the coast and probably hotter than that this year. I mean, if you can cook outside, definitely go for it.
MYRLAND: And should you use an oven thermometer in your barbeque as well?
GUILLAS: Yes, you need to use an – Well, I would put it on the side. You need to make sure that you have a really constant temperature. So the thing is, every time that you open your grill, you will lose a little bit of heat so every like 20 minutes, you have to open it really quickly, you baste, and, whsst, you close. And then most likely what will happen is it will take another 30 extra minute to cook. Now…
MYRLAND: Now, that’s interesting because I was thinking that a grill might be hotter than an oven but it really wouldn’t be.
MALARKEY: You don’t have the – Most of the time, the lid’s not insulated so you’re going to lose a lot of heat out of a grill.
MALARKEY: I mean, you’re getting more of just a direct bottom heat that you’re trying to keep around whereas an oven, once you get that in there, it’s a fully insulated box.
GUILLAS: Yeah, another way to cook it and I like to do it, deep fry it.
MALARKEY: Deep fry, yeah.
GUILLAS: Now, talk to them about deep fried turkey.
MALARKEY: Every year at the Oceanaire, we’d always buy a bunch of turkeys for the staff and some people would wind up traveling and not eat their turkey and we had industrial size fryers there so we put them at 350 and we always had the family meal, our, you know, we have family meals. So one year I thought it’d be a great idea, I’ll use some of these turkeys up. You know, before Thanksgiving we’ll have a big turkey – pre-turkey dinner with the staff. Then, of course, my staff was almost like paralyzed by sleep by the time we opened the front door. Everyone was fading on me fast. You have to just do – when you deep fry turkey, you just need to make sure that you’re, of course, in a grassy area, you have the proper size holding container, the pot for the size bird because you hear of all the accidents and when you’re dealing with that and you’re not a professional chef and you have oil at 350 degrees and it’s bubbling hot, you can have so many tragedies. But if you know what you’re doing and you’ve got help and…
GUILLAS: So the right way to do it is…
MALARKEY: Yes, there you go, here you go.
GUILLAS: …you take a 30 quart vessel with lead-in basket. Make sure you have a lead-in basket. You cannot just drop it. Then you measure – You make sure that you have the proper equipment. You bring it to 375 degrees. I think that three to five gallon of oil would be good, peanut oil, for example, at high heat, oil would be very good. And then you just put it inside. Make sure that the turkey is nice and dry and it will take about 15 minutes per pound to cook it. So if you have a 10 pound turkey, 150 minutes, boom, you’re down, two and a half hours. That’s it.
MALARKEY: I have a suggestion here also. If you do have one of those turkeys that has a little built in plastic thermometer, take that out before you fry your turkey.
MYRLAND: Yeah, a good tip. And on that note, we’re going to take a quick break but we’ll be back. Speaking with Chef Bernard Guillas from the Marine Room in La Jolla, Chef Brian Malarkey, former executive chef at Oceanaire, and opening a new restaurant in the Gaslamp, coming soon. And we’d sure love to hear from you at 1-888-895-5727. This is These Days in San Diego. I’m Doug Myrland.
MYRLAND: These Days in San Diego. I’m Doug Myrland sitting in for Maureen Cavanaugh. Our guests are Chef Bernard Guillas from the Marine Room, Chef Brian Malarkey of the brand new, yet unrevealed named restaurant in the Gaslamp. And, of course, we’re talking about Thanksgiving and turkey and preparing that Thanksgiving meal for a large crowd. And we have a lot of folks who want to participate so we’re going to start with Becky in Escondido. Becky, welcome to the program and I understand you have a recipe for stuffing.
BECKY (Caller, Escondido): Yes, thank you. Good morning. I’m not much of a cook so I was looking for a new stuffing recipe and I guess this one’s been around a while, called Miles Standish stuffing? And it says to use, at one point to chop up the heart and the gizzards of the turkey and I was wondering if I could just get around that not do that, would it sacrifice much taste?
MALARKEY: You certainly can. If you’re going to do your stuffing outside the bird, I would suggest that you could actually remove a little bit of the dark meat from the leg or thigh, which is also very nice and oily. It has a slight, you know, gamier flavor than the breast meat. If you wanted to, you could certainly use some of that meat. Yeah, you don’t have to. They’re just trying to add a lot of bold flavor and maybe shock value, too.
GUILLAS: Yeah, if you want some bold flavor and shock value, get some nice, spicy Italian sausage.
MALARKEY: There you go.
GUILLAS: That’s what I do.
MALARKEY: That’s – I like that.
GUILLAS: And I gotta tell you, with little croissant brioche, ooh-la-la.
MYRLAND: And are both of you recommending that you do the stuffing outside the cavity of the turkey? Put some herbs in the cavity but not stuffing? Or are you okay with stuffing the turkey?
GUILLAS: I prefer to do the stuffing on the side for a couple of reasons. First of all, you can control the stuffing much better. The second is that I do not like that—not to be crude but that blood is going to run into the stuffing at the beginning of the cooking process so, yes, you may going to get a little bit of flavor…
MALARKEY: Chef, you’re French, come on.
GUILLAS: I don’t like it, baby.
MALARKEY: Come on.
GUILLAS: Uh-uh-uh. And what I like to do is, I take – in the cavity I put onions, celery, carrots, a lot of herbs, garlic and it really infuses…
MALARKEY: I like to throw a little citrus in there also.
GUILLAS: Yeah, it really does, infuses the flesh. It’s really, really good.
MYRLAND: So you’re both in agreement that, generally speaking, stuffing outside the turkey and put something inside the cavity of the turkey to just add some flavor.
MALARKEY: I definitely believe so. And then, you know, if we’re calling blood seeping into the stuffing is a little bit more but it gets a little bit more of it when you have a spoon halfway up inside that bird also and you’re pulling out the last of the kind of the stuffing in there. It makes for a much nicer presentation when you have a bowl of stuffing and, you know, you have your nice turkey there and you can carve around it rather than trying to scoop out the cavity of the bird.
MYRLAND: And what if you’re – if you’re a real stuffing fan, you can have two or three different kinds.
MALARKEY: Oh, for sure.
GUILLAS: Definitely. The other thing is, if you have done it as a tradition to stuff it in the cavity, it will take you – you have to add about another 30 to 45 minutes to the cooking process.
MALARKEY: And that’s just drying out more of your white meat actually.
GUILLAS: That’s right, yeah.
MALARKEY: Your bird’s going to be done when you’re still trying to get the stuffing all the way hot…
MALARKEY: …the more compact you get it in there. If you have a turducken, there’s no room anyways so…
MYRLAND: Well, this idea about timing leads us nicely to Jessica in Rolando who wants to talk about using a convection oven which, traditionally, people think of as being faster. So, Jessica, please join the conversation here.
JESSICA (Caller, Rolando): Hi, thank you. Yeah, well I have a convection oven and it’s been working great for desserts and things but I have no idea how to use it for the turkey.
GUILLAS: You have to use it exactly the same thing as when you bake. The convection oven, what it does, it really evens out all the heat into the cavity of the ovens so you really have an even keel heat all throughout. The only thing that I would do most likely is I would take almost exactly 30 minutes off the cooking process and this is where I will check for the temperature of the turkey. So what I mean by that is, your turkey, if you want to cook it perfectly, has to be 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. If it’s more than that, mostly likely the breast will be dry.
MALARKEY: Yes. I’m – and convection’s just blowing air around, that’s all you’re doing. It does a great job of balancing out the heat in the oven.
MYRLAND: Do either…
GUILLAS: And also the fragrance because if you have herbs and all that stuff in the cavity, the oven is really going to infuse this beautiful aroma.
MYRLAND: Do either of you use convection ovens in your restaurants?
MALARKEY: That’s – it’s a must.
GUILLAS: That’s a must.
MALARKEY: You gotta get the food out fast.
MALARKEY: You know, we cook fast.
GUILLAS: But in the meantime, if you do crème brûlée, it is better to do it with just no convection at all because you do not want to cook the top of the crème brûlée.
MYRLAND: Okay. Well, we’ve got some more folks who want to participate but I also want to invite even more at 1-888-895-5727 to join the conversation. We have Irene in Mission Hills wants to talk about James Beard, one of my favorite food writers. Irene.
IRENE (Caller, Mission Hills): Hi. I’m very excited about this call and talking with a great chef. I’m sure it’s going to help a lot of us. My question is what do you think of James Beard’s double brown shopping bag, paper bag, and slipping the turkey that’s been seasoned, however one wishes, into that double bag, rolling it up so there is no air escape, and baking it that way with tearing it open in the last half hour so that it gets more browned?
MALARKEY: Essentially that’s just what Chef Bernard was saying. I think it sounds fun, it sounds slightly like a fire hazard if you have any kind of loose flame or if your oven’s not perfectly clean. But essentially what you’re doing is you’re steaming it in that beautiful brown grocery bag and it’s adding all the flavors not escaping. So you’re going to have a really, really moist bird. I would say just to be safe at home, I would do the aluminum foil like Chef Bernard was saying because essentially you’re doing the same thing, you’re trapping the flavor and the moisture in and then by removing that at the last minute, and, again, pulling out a hot bird out of a hot paper bag after three hours and then trying to crisp it back up, it’s going to be a little bit harder to do than just pulling off the aluminum foil. But that’s what he was doing, and that’s what he was, you know, capturing in that process.
MYRLAND: So you think even though the foil is a tent and not wrapped tightly around the turkey, it basically achieves the same amount of…
MALARKEY: It’s not going to achieve as much as a brown paper bag. I mean, that’s really going to hold it in there.
GUILLAS: Now when you cook it in a bag, what happen is you really are marrying all the spices, the aroma, the butter, and everything that you have in that bag and you seal it. So you will roast gently but at same time you will steam a little bit as well. So you’re trapping a lot of moisture. And by taking it out of the bag at the last minute and most likely at 375, it will just brown the turkey. So it’s another techniques. I feel that the most important thing is that people cook with their favorite techniques. But in the meantime, they can also experiment with the techniques that we are sharing with them now.
MALARKEY: I mean, essentially James Beard was doing like a sous vide…
MALARKEY: …long before sous vide was hipping the rage, you know.
MYRLAND: Well, let’s – and sous vide is cooked steaming sort of in water, steaming in plastic, right?
MALARKEY: Cooked at a controlled temperature, which is your oven, at a controlled temperature inside a sealed container, sealed package. Cryovac, preferably in a plastic bag is what they do.
MYRLAND: So let’s just say if you really don’t have a lot of experience cooking turkeys, this is the first time you’ve hosted Thanksgiving, maybe it’s best to stick with the basic technique that you all described at the very beginning with the 325 and the brining and…
MALARKEY: Yeah, you can even – I mean, if you’re basic, I’d even skip the brining. I would tie its two big legs together, kind of tuck the wings in a little bit tight, salt, pepper, maybe some garlic and a little vegetable inside and just kind of roast it at…
GUILLAS: And a lot of butter. That’s…
MALARKEY: And a lot of butter. This is a day to splurge. This isn’t the day to count your calories. This is the day that you use your butter, you use your cream, and you go for it.
MYRLAND: But if you’re a little more confident cook, the bag technique is worth a try.
MALARKEY: You know what, I think if you’re a confident chef, you try something different every year, you know, I mean, have some fun. Play with it.
GUILLAS: If you’re a confident cook, you can try all the technique we’ve talked about from the grilling, the bag, the frying, the roasting, the brining, I mean, there is really no stopping for cooking techniques. But the thing you should remember is the way you cook your technique today – you cook your turkey today, you could use it for cooking some beautiful chicken for the rest of the year.
MALARKEY: Yeah, any sort of…
GUILLAS: So that’s a great way to do it.
MALARKEY: And you’ve practiced all year long with a chicken or a Cornish game hen, you know, you can have some fun with this and kind of prepare yourself as the year goes on.
MYRLAND: We want to go to Esteban in Linda Vista, who has a question. Esteban, welcome to the program.
ESTEBAN (Caller, Linda Vista): Hey, thanks. So I was wondering what the best way to cook a boneless chicken or a boneless turkey was? For 9 to 12 pounds.
GUILLAS: All right, so this one I’m going to take it because this is the way that my sister Sylvie in Brittany cooks it but we don’t do this for Thanksgiving, we do it for Christmas every year. Is you take the breast and you butterfly it and you put your stuffing inside the breast. And then you just rewrap it and then you just put…
MALARKEY: So the form of the bird again.
GUILLAS: The form of the breast again only.
GUILLAS: Then you put butter, salt, pepper, sage, and you cook it in the oven at 375 degrees until the center is 165 degrees. You let it rest for about 20 minutes. The great thing about it is that when you cut it, you will have all the breast around the stuffing. It’s a beautiful preparation and presentation, and it’s really easy to do. So it’s a great way to do it.
MALARKEY: Where did you get the semi-boneless bird?
MYRLAND: I don’t think it’s…
ESTEBAN: I work for a nonprofit organization and they donated like five or six turkeys…
GUILLAS: Yeah, the…
GUILLAS: …the other way to do it, I do it exactly this way at the Marine Room because we use a lot of breasts and very little legs and tie – so it’s really – the demand is really not there. We brine it, and we use that maple cider brine that I was talking about earlier. But it’s really, really fantastic because it really seals all the inside of the breast and keeps it super moist…
MALARKEY: So you…
GUILLAS: …which is so important.
MALARKEY: You had mentioned that you’re doing a lot of dinners at the Marine Room this year, so you do just a lot of like breasts, legs, you don’t – you’re not throwing in a whole bunch of birds at…
GUILLAS: Not doing a bunch of birds because otherwise you would be a turkey coop, you know, it doesn’t work.
MALARKEY: I don’t know, I’m a dark meat man. I’d come over.
MYRLAND: …while we’re still on with Esteban, what would you think about grilling that boneless bird?
GUILLAS: No problem. You can grill it as well. You can – You know what? Another way to do it is that deep fry. It just seals it completely, super fast, keep it moist. And, I mean, you can prepare and cook that turkey breast within an hour, you’re just…
MALARKEY: You’re going to cook so much faster.
MALARKEY: Just be careful. Don’t think that you’re sitting there all afternoon. Don’t start your – If you want to eat at five o’clock, don’t start your bird at two o’clock.
MALARKEY: I mean, you’re going to be moving right along because those bones essentially take so long to heat up and they kind of act as your heat conductor inside there. You don’t have that, the heat’s going to move right through that bird very quickly.
MYRLAND: Let’s talk about gravy and how an inexperienced turkey cooker should approach that because I think maybe that’s the second scariest part of the meal because you don’t want to get lumps and you don’t know how much flour and you don’t know whether to use milk or sour cream or whatever. So maybe we can talk about a relatively simple and foolproof way to make gravy. Or is there such a thing?
GUILLAS: Yes, there is. You ready?
GUILLAS: Okay, audience, pay attention. It’s going to be super…
MALARKEY: I will let the French man talk about the roux.
GUILLAS: …super easy. Remove the turkey from the pan. Then you take some bay leaf, onion, carrot, celery and you roast it for about five minutes. Then after that you add your flour so you’re making a roux and you’re doing this with the drippings who are still in the pan.
MYRLAND: So you’re using the…
GUILLAS: And you scrape the pan.
MYRLAND: Just to be clear for people…
MYRLAND: …this is the pan…
MYRLAND: …that you roasted the turkey in.
MYRLAND: The big old roaster.
MALARKEY: And there’s all that nice, clear liquid that you’ve been using to baste the turkey with.
GUILLAS: So now you add your aromatics, you add your vegetables. And then you just scrape and scrape and roast, then you will add your flour. And then my recommendation is that you add maybe Marsala, Madera or even a San Genovese wine and you reduce that by half. Then you put your chicken stock and just cook it to sauce consistency. And what you want to do is you put it into a strainer and you really press all the solids, so like this you will be able to get all that beautiful gravy falling down into a pan and finish it with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper, and that’s it.
MYRLAND: So pushing it through the metal strainer…
MYRLAND: …prevents the lumps?
GUILLAS: Well, it prevents the lump but usually you will not have any lumps at all because when you’re putting your flour, you should dust. Don’t take like a scoop of flour and put it in the pan, you just dust it. Just dust it over the vegetables and then you mix everything together.
MYRLAND: Any alternate suggestions, Brian?
MALARKEY: Well, like the chef said, what you could also do is you could just drain some of that fat into, you know, if you’re not taking – scrape as much of the bottom as you can, take some of the fat, you can mix a little bit of a flour with water and then you could kind of put that in there also because essentially the fat is the drippings, and just kind of – just put a little bit at a time until it thickens up, you know. Hit it with a little cream, keep thickening it up, finish with a little butter, salt and pepper. Simple and easy. That’s what you want. And if you put the flour with a little bit of the water beforehand, it’s not going to clump up. And the worst thing, if it does clump up, you can always just strain it and essentially just get the nice thickness.
MYRLAND: How about using the giblets or…
MALARKEY: That’s – that’s…
GUILLAS: Oh, yes.
MALARKEY: We lost a lot of flavor in that, though. We lost our wine, we lost our veggies, we lost our butter, we lost a lot of things but if you want a simple, easy way, that would be the way to do it.
GUILLAS: Me, I keep it all. I roast it all, and I just squeeze it all.
MYRLAND: And with the giblets, is it okay to put the liver in there, too? Everything or…?
GUILLAS: I use only giblets and necks. That’s what I use only. I don’t know if you use the liver, but I don’t.
MALARKEY: I haven’t heard of the mad turkey disease yet so I use it all.
MYRLAND: So when you make this gravy, you’re letting your turkey rest, right?
MYRLAND: Because the turkey needs to rest a little bit after you...
GUILLAS: About 20 minutes.
MYRLAND: So that’s really the last thing you should make. So let’s jump ahead now and talk about things that you can make a little bit ahead like maybe pies and side dishes. And what are some of your favorite side dishes?
MALARKEY: Real quick though, one more really quick and foolproof way to make that gravy is there’s a little thing called Wondra. And it’s what your grandmother used to make her gravy out of…
MALARKEY: …and it’s been around forever. Wondra, it’s available in any grocery store. Read it and it’ll walk you through the most essentially easy gravy you can possible get. It’s in the blue container. You know what, but – and throw your friends off a little bit, throw a sprig of sage in there or sprig of rosemary and that’ll add a really unique flavor, something that they’ll think you really knocked out of the park.
MYRLAND: And I don’t know what they do to Wondra. It’s basically flour processed in some way.
MALARKEY: It’s a really light dusting of flour that…
MYRLAND: But it doesn’t…
MALARKEY: …it will not clump.
MYRLAND: Yeah, it doesn’t lump up.
MYRLAND: So… So side dishes.
GUILLAS: Side dishes? I love my sweet potato pie. You can do – When I do the sweet potatoes, the one I like to – really like to use is boniato, not the regular sweet potato, the one who are really starchy and really nice so you can make like a whipped sweet potato if you want, and finish it with a little bit of spiced rum, sort of like this, it changes it a little bit.
MALARKEY: I’m eating with Chef this year.
MYRLAND: So here’s a basic question. Do you peel that sweet potato or just…
GUILLAS: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you gotta peel the sweet potato. The other thing I do, I do a praline yam gratin, so you do – you just slice your yams, little bit of pralines then butter and some fresh herbs, and you bake it in the oven. Oh, man, it’s so good.
MYRLAND: What’s the difference between a yam and a sweet potato?
MALARKEY: I – I’m not much of a earthy, sweet potato kind of guy.
GUILLAS: Oh, come on. It is part of the same family. It’s a tuber but they’re all a little bit different. You have an Okinawan sweet potato, which I’m sure is going to end up on his new menu now. It’s a purple sweet potato from Japan. It was cultivated here in California. It’s amazing. So…
MYRLAND: How do you think people feel about eating purple food?
MALARKEY: I think purple food’s fun. I love it. This is the land of Dr. Seuss we live in here, don’t you know?
GUILLAS: You better believe it. You gotta have fun. And then, you know, one thing that I like for greens, I love sugar peas instead of doing always the green beans with the almonds and shallots. I love just a little bit of sweet peas, sugar peas, butter, almonds, and then I toss it with grilled asparagus. So you have all this together, just really nice, looks really good. So one is a little bit more acid, the other one is more sweet, and it’s – the kids love it, everybody loves it. So it’s very nice.
MALARKEY: Very nice. This is kind of funny. I’m going to tell this story in like two seconds here. But I – Essentially when I got out of Cordon School and I was really excited, I wanted to treat my family to this beautiful Thanksgiving dinner. I said I’m going to do it this year. And I made like Indian flat bread and wild rice, and all the things – kind of researched it and learned so much about how the like Native Americans and the pilgrims, I imagined, had first done their Thanksgiving dinner. And we sat down at this big, giant feast. I didn’t let anybody in the kitchen or anyone into the room. And then I let everybody in and I look over and my sister’s crying and everyone’s just looking a little bit disgusted because on Thanksgiving, what it means to them, it meant canned cranberry sauce, it meant Jello with marshmallows it in. And I was never allowed or never quite – I was never invited back to cook Thanksgiving for my family. That’s why I boycotted it this year, I think. But have fun with some of the traditional things, you know. If you’re, you know, doing the basic, if you’re doing the Wondra flour, you know, don’t be doing Chef’s…
GUILLAS: Brian, when you go to cranberries, because you say classic, when you go to the cranberry sauce, you can really play with it. You can do a little – you can put – you can jazz it up. Put a bit of ginger, crystallized ginger, sun-dried apricots…
MALARKEY: For recess.
GUILLAS: …or a little bit of tangerine juice and you mix it with your regular cranberry and you go, wow. This is really cool. That’s really different. And I think that’s what’s important. You can do the classic but if you just…
MALARKEY: Just twist it up a little bit.
MALARKEY: Just twist it up a little bit.
GUILLAS: With some…
MALARKEY: Frozen cranberries are great.
MALARKEY: The frozen cranberries, you can do so much with those in the grocery…
MYRLAND: We’re going to talk about a lot more ways to twist up some classics when we come back from the break but we do need to take a quick break. You’re listening to These Days in San Diego.
MYRLAND: These Days in San Diego, I’m Doug Myrland. We’re talking Thanksgiving dinner with Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef Brian Malarkey. And Chef Brian, you said you had a charity that you wanted to talk about in relationship to Thanksgiving.
MALARKEY: Well, it’s really fun. Every year they do this gingerbread city up at the Grand Del Mar Gingerbread Competition and they have little petit gingerbreads and I’m not exactly – I can’t remember what charity it serves and I have my text out right now but if you like to make little gingerbread houses, they have a kind of a at-home level and you can kind of go there and then you can see what these really – some of San Diego’s best pastry chefs do with amazing gingerbread like castles. So at the Grand Del Mar, December 1st. I’ll let you know what charity it serves right here in a second but…
MALARKEY: …you can make a gingerbread for competition.
MYRLAND: Well, and we’ve got a couple of people who’ve been waiting patiently to participate here, so I want to get to Stephen in San Diego. Stephen, we appreciate your patience. Welcome to the show.
STEPHEN (Caller, San Diego): Thank you very much.
MYRLAND: And you…
MYRLAND: …were going to talk about Asian turkey, is that right?
STEPHEN: Yeah, I tried and did a twist on it. And the first time I did it, I stuffed it with papaya, mango, pineapple, orange, limes, basically all the fruits…
MALARKEY: That’s a Hawaiian turkey.
STEPHEN: …and the oranges. And so it was kind of Hawaiian. And then I did a Hoisin sauce and wasabi like glaze, ginger and everything else in it, and last year I ended up making all kinds of dipping sauces for it. But I turn it – I cook it upside down, breast down, and the breast is so moist it actually – and then flip it over at the last minute and put the glaze on it and brown it and it just comes out amazing.
MYRLAND: Well, thanks for that.
GUILLAS: Yeah, that sounds really good actually. That will be a turkey that I would love to taste.
MALARKEY: Yeah, that’s it, you know, if you’re confident in your cooking skills, you know, try something different every year. Kind of, you know, test yourself outside the box unless you have some family members who are going to be upset if they don’t get the traditional. But – And like Chef was saying, you know, practice with chicken throughout the year and have some fun with it.
MYRLAND: Well, one thing about what he described, too, is it had a lot of sugars in it.
MYRLAND: And maybe that’s part of the message, too, is that you can use that cavity of the turkey as a delivery mechanism to the rest of the bird.
MALARKEY: I like thinking outside the box. Congrat – really nice, really nice.
MYRLAND: And Larry in La Jolla has a thought for us, too. And, Larry, welcome to These Days.
LARRY (Caller, La Jolla): Hey, good morning, guys. I’m hungry already. Thanksgiving Day, I think we all ought to say thanks for the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, all over the world.
LARRY: God bless them.
MYRLAND: So your message is we want to remember that it’s not just about eating but it’s also about saying thanks, right?
GUILLAS: It’s about giving, that’s very true.
MYRLAND: Well, we…
GUILLAS: And we give them our best because without them we would not be as safe as we are here today.
MYRLAND: Well, we really, really appreciate your thoughts. And, of course, it’s about giving to your family when you make this preparation and you make this meal. As you said at the very beginning, Chef Bernard, that it’s about cooking with love, right?
GUILLAS: Yeah, it’s cooking with love. You know, I was looking at sides that I really love to do, for example is you can do bread puddings. We do a wild mushroom bread pudding sometime at the house and this is really fantastic, and that would be a really great addition besides the stuffing. And I think we should jump on to pies.
GUILLAS: I love pies.
MYRLAND: I want to talk about pies, too, but I do want to cover one more staple for just a second, and that’s mashed potatoes.
GUILLAS: Oh, yeah.
MYRLAND: And I think that’s something that scares a lot of beginning cooks. And I always figure the more butter the better but that doesn’t work for everybody.
GUILLAS: This is the way you cook the perfect mashed potatoes. You need to start your potatoes in cold water with a little salt. And then you bring it to a boil and a simmer. You cook your potato until they are just done, you strain it, you make sure that all that water is gone, and then you need to pass it through a ricer or just a masher, that’s it. You do not want to overdo it.
MALARKEY: Overdo, yeah, gets gummy.
GUILLAS: If you overdo it, it can become gummy. That’s the trouble.
MYRLAND: So it’s too much motion with the potatoes is the gumminess.
GUILLAS: Exactly. And you have to use the right potatoes. Everybody thinks that, you know, the Yukon Gold potatoes, so sexy, so beautiful, it’s going to be so much better. Uh-uh-uh. Russet potato, simple, traditional, just the right amount of starch, they are just beautiful.
MALARKEY: Yeah, I think russets tend to – they’re drier after cooked, right?
GUILLAS: Yeah, exactly.
MALARKEY: So all the moisture is…
MYRLAND: So that five pound bag at the 99¢ Store, that’s the one you want.
GUILLAS: Yeah, it – that’s it.
GUILLAS: That’s it.
MALARKEY: And, you know what, we’re talking about being cost effective on Thanksgiving. Right there’s a – most of the ingredients that are traditional, I mean, this – Thanksgiving is not a truffle, foie gras, caviar sort of event. I mean, it’s potatoes, root vegetables and a bird. So to…
MYRLAND: Why do you start off with cold water? What difference does that make?
GUILLAS: It’s the starches. It’s to be rid of the starches. They will become gummy. They will become really, really – The taste is not good. But if you want to follow the recipe that we just talked about and then to really finish it right, a little bit of butter, not that much, sour cream, yummy, salt and pepper, and if you want, shave some beautiful horseradish last minute, and it really gives a little twist. You see, the garlic is good but that garlic, for me, overtake the whole thing. I already have so much flavors that a little bit of that horseradish just rocks it.
MYRLAND: Okay, now we’ll let you talk about pies. There’s a – You know, everybody is asking Crisco, Crisco this, Crisco that. You know, now they’re doing trans fat Crisco or without the trans fat, which is very good. But if you want to really do it really nice and light, like my grandmother would do it, what you do is, you use the butter. When you are making your dough, you don’t overdo – overwork the dough. And then you bake it, okay? So you have your pie crust already done. You melt some chocolate and you brush the chocolate inside the pie and you put it in the refrigerator and then you put your mixture in. By putting the chocolate, you avoid the moisture to get the crust soggy. So it’s a really, really good technique.
GUILLAS: And, plus, it gives it a little different taste to your pie.
MYRLAND: Now let’s talk about melting chocolate.
MYRLAND: Is the microwave the best way to do that?
GUILLAS: Yeah, if you do it in microwave, you have to chop it into small little pieces and you melt it in 15 seconds increment and then you mix it. I gotta tell you, I burn chocolate at my house, the neighbors two blocks down were wondering if they had to call the fire department, it was so bad. It’s amazing. And that smell stays in the house, it’s worse than fish.
MYRLAND: And so you don’t want to do it on the stove unless you use like a double boiler or…
GUILLAS: Yeah, exactly. Just keep it simple. You don’t want to – you just want to melt the chocolate. You melt the chocolate, you baste it and, bingo, it’s done. You can do pumpkin pie. The best pumpkin to use, so you can use your regular pumpkin or use Kabocha so the Kabocha is that – look at green turban, you know…
GUILLAS: …but it’s very, very thick, intense, natural sweetness. It’s beautiful.
MALARKEY: Yeah, I always sneak in butternut squash.
GUILLAS: Yeah, or the butternut squash. Yeah, it’s really, really good.
MYRLAND: And how do you get that ready to go into the pie. You have to peel it, right?
MALARKEY: The butternut squash?
GUILLAS: No, the best – you want to avoid to have too much water into the mix. So the best is you bake it in the oven so you cut it in half, a little bit of honey…
MALARKEY: And then you hollow it out. You leave the skin.
GUILLAS: …and butter and that’s it.
MYRLAND: Okay, so you’re talking about eating the squash just in and of itself, not as part of…
GUILLAS: No, no, no, no.
MALARKEY: No, you cut it in half, season it up with a little, like he said, butter, brown sugar.
MALARKEY: And then bake it in that one half because you also want your pumpkin to actually be kind of the pumpkin color. You don’t want to put too much color on it. If you were to peel it then cook it, you’d be browning too much of the surface temp – surface. So he’s saying leave it into the skin, that protects it, and then you, once it’s nice and soft, scoop it out, fold that into your potato mix. I mean, into your pie mix.
GUILLAS: That’s it. And it’s just – it’s amazing. It’s really good. But, you know, you can also do, like I was saying, the sweet potato pie, you can do – Yeah, I gotta tell you, I like a banana nut chocolate pie. Just forget about the pumpkin sometimes. Just give me something different. So different, you know, do a little cheesecake. Do a little cheesecake. It’s very American. So this – you’re not stuck with only one single dessert.
MALARKEY: An apple pie right now. I mean…
MALARKEY: …the apples in the markets right now are incredible.
GUILLAS: With sun dried cherries in it.
MALARKEY: Oh, I like that.
GUILLAS: Oh, my, that would be just beautiful.
MYRLAND: What kind of apples really bake best in your opinion?
MALARKEY: I don’t know. I like to use like a nice combination, you know. I mean, I’m a Granny Smith man because I like the tartness and then you use some of the, you know, the other ones to really bring out some sweetness. And it looks great because you’ve got – I mean, I like rustic. I leave all the – I leave the skin on when I bake it. So it’s got all the really great textures going on.
MYRLAND: Probably healthier, too.
MALARKEY: Well, yeah, with a lot of sugar.
GUILLAS: Well, the sugar, the butter, and, you know, you finish it with a bit of ice cream, and life is good.
MALARKEY: There you go.
GUILLAS: But don’t forget, I think at that point…
MALARKEY: I think this is a day not to be healthy.
GUILLAS: …you need to drink something.
MALARKEY: This is a day to go for it. You know?
GUILLAS: It’s time to drink something. What are we going to drink?
MALARKEY: Oh, gosh.
GUILLAS: So for white wine, I would say a Pinot Grigio, a Pinot Gris or la Bastide Chardonnay, even a rosé de’Provence would be just a beautiful…
MALARKEY: A way to start the meal, very nice.
GUILLAS: Isn’t it?
MALARKEY: Love it.
GUILLAS: And then I would say, you know, if you were looking at sparkling wine maybe a Prosecco or a sparking rosé like Chandon, even a nice bottle of Duval-Leroy. The thing, you’re talking to a guy who loves champagne. I really – I could wake up in the morning, have a glass of rosé champagne here with me, put me in the mood, you know. Then when it comes to red, Pinot Noir, San Genovese, Grenache, something that was going to be light because the bird cannot fight with the wine. It has to be all in harmony with the whole meal. So I think that those will be very good. What do you think?
MALARKEY: Yeah, I agree with that. I mean, you don’t want to be – you don’t want to pull out your big, heavy cabs or anything like that because you’re not eating anything really rich so we’re kind of keeping it, you know – although we do have a lot of different flavors going on. And there is so many different flavors in a Thanksgiving meal, so more of a neutral wine that is more of a, you know, a drinking wine rather than a very intense wine that really just pairs nicely with a few certain things.
GUILLAS: Also, some really nice handcrafted local beers. If you get some beers from Lost Abbey for example, who have really a lot of fragrance, who are really – with a nice flavor profile that’s just perfect.
MALARKEY: I like that. I like that and, you know, San Diego was just voted the Beer Capital of the United States for the amount of great microbrews we have here. So that’s pretty exciting.
MYRLAND: Now, I want to ask you both, second nature to you in the restaurant business is getting everything out on time and it’s part of the process and you do it every day without thinking about it probably. But for a home cook who doesn’t usually make this much food, isn’t that experienced, what are some rules to follow to make sure that it comes out all relatively at the same time and all of it warm and all of it ready?
MALARKEY: I mean, a lot of the dishes, you can pre-prepare. You can pre-prepare and kind of, you know, if you’re – like you have to – you have to have some stuff that’s going to be done in the minute, your gravy. You’re going to take that right up to the end. I mean, you can get it done a half hour before and just kind of keep it real nice and simmering. The flavor’s only going to get better. But do it like Chef was saying, I mean, make that bread pudding, something that you can make in advance, throw it in the oven, finish it off. It’s going to be nice and hot. You know, the bird’s going to be no problem. But don’t do too much because at the end of the day, it’s a day to relax and be thankful for your family and not stress out about the food. Don’t try to do seven dishes. Do four dishes, three dishes, right, and enjoy yourself.
GUILLAS: And the other thing is if you didn’t buy your turkey, buy it like within the next hour so that it’s going to be defrosted. I mean people have a tendency to do everything last minute, right? They get the wine last minute, they get this last minute. No, no. Just get organized. Do exactly how Brian said. Make sure that you make a list of all the things that you can do a couple days ahead. But don’t do your shopping at the last minute because this is where you’ll get in trouble.
MYRLAND: Well, Chef Bernard Guillas, I want to thank you for being with us and I want to plug your cookbook, “Two Chefs, One World.”
GUILLAS: “Two Chefs, One World,” is Ron Oliver and myself, we did a cookbook and it’s about Ron and I traveling around the world, 40 different countries. But what’s great about the book is there is two really cool recipe about turkeys. One is a recipe who is coming from some, I would say, troubles that Ron—I don’t want to give it away—that Ron discovered. The other one is my sister. That’s it.
GUILLAS: That’s the turkey breast we talked about.
MYRLAND: Well, it’s called “Two Chefs, One World.” And Chef Brian Malarkey, thank you for being here and congratulations on your up-and-coming restaurant. We’ll all look forward to it maybe six months from now…
MYRLAND: …will be the time to go visit.
MALARKEY: Sounds wonderful.
GUILLAS: I look forward to it.
MYRLAND: And it’s the Epilepsy Foundation that’s the charity that’s the beneficiary from the gingerbread house…
MALARKEY: Yes, it is, so that’s really fun.
MALARKEY: They have a theme this year. It’s called “Greatest Stories Ever Told.”
MYRLAND: Well, thank you. Thank you both. It’s been a lot of fun. Thanks to all the listeners who called in. You’re listening to These Days in San Diego. I’m Doug Myrland.