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X-Planations: Peter X. Kelly Talks Turkey For Thanksgiving

Peter's wife, Rica, with his sister and mother on Thanksgiving.
Peter's wife, Rica, with his sister and mother on Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Submitted

YONKERS, N.Y. -- Of all the wonderful holidays throughout the year, Thanksgiving is a truly special one for me and my family.

Thanksgiving is a time to say thank you for all the blessings we receive throughout the year. It's also a holiday best spent with your family and closest of friends.

It may come as a surprise to many that Thanksgiving is also one of the busiest days of the year for a certain segment of the restaurant industry. At the Xaviars Restaurant Group, we will entertain full houses of celebrating families looking to take a year off from cooking.

Our menus at the restaurants cater to those wanting to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving meal as well as accommodating the guests more inclined to experience a culinary journey. So while we'll have pumpkin bread and cranberry sauce and local turkey roasted with apple and chestnut stuffing, we will also offer venison, Nantucket scallops, foie gras, risotto with shaved black truffles, quail and a perfect praline soufflé, among more traditional menu items.

But how will I celebrate?

I am lucky enough to have a family that will wait until later in the day to join me. Every year my entire family joins me at Restaurant X in Congers where about 50 of us will begin dinner at 6 p.m. As one of 12 children whom are all grown and have families of their own, Thanksgiving at the restaurant is a tradition they all try to make.

Of course with so many spread across the country, not all will attend but many will. My niece, Bonny, will drive with her husband and four children from Michigan, my son, Dylan, will be there on a break from school in Ithaca, while my brother, James, the chef at Restaurant X will have his family join us after a day of cooking for guests. And I will ask my oldest sister, Sheila, to lead us in grace before we sit down to a Thanksgiving repast as we all have much to be thankful for.

I have included a recipe for turkey the way we handle it at the restaurant. The bird is brined the day before; this seasons it and keeps it very juicy. Happy carving and happy Thanksgiving!

Brined & Roasted Turkey

Ingredients:

  • 12-14 lbs Murray’s turkey or any locally raised and fresh killed bird
  • 4 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1 Gallon Water
  • 1 1/2 c. Sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. Kosher Salt
  • 3 oz. Dark Soy Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
  • 4 oz Fresh Ginger (Peeled and Sliced ¼ inch Thick)
  • 6 Piece Star Anise
  • 6 Piece Bay Leaf

Procedure:

  • Preheat oven to 550 degrees.
  • In a large pot or plastic container (large enough to submerge whole turkey) combine water, kosher salt, sugar, soy sauce, peppercorns, ginger, star anise and bay leaf.
  • Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Open turkey and remove giblets from cavity.
  • Submerge turkey and allow it to brine overnight in refrigerator (up to 24 hours).
  • Remove turkey and rinse inside and out under cold running water.
  • Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Secure legs of turkey by tying together with kitchen string.
  • Rub outside of turkey with butter.
  • Place roasting pan with turkey in pre-heated oven and roast for 30 minutes.
  • Lower oven temperature to 375 and continue roasting for two hours basting every 20 minutes.
  • Remove turkey from oven (a quick reed thermometer should read 165 degrees).
  • Allow to rest 30 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

This column is a continuing series by Chef Peter X. Kelly of Xaviars Restaurant Group which runs every Thursday.

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