A Carino Thanksgiving

by Chef Johnny Carino

Johnnie Carino is the noted TV Host of Lifestyle Cooking with Chef Johnny Carino on liveo.com (coming soon) and owner Chef Johnny Carino Innovations a Dallas based restaurant consulting firm. He has offered to give a little Turkey Day advice to the craveDFW readers for those still needing a bit of help. Thank you, Johnny.

As a kid, being Italian, our dinner was turkey, ham, prime rib, lasagna or stuffed shells. My grandmother lived to 99 and made awesome stuffed shells I can still taste them from the basement of her Brooklyn home and my home that I was born in. The Italian stuffing, Brussels sprouts with pancetta and the pancetta oil, salad and Italian cookies, rum baba and cannolis. Yes we even had pumpkin pies, but if you have ever had Brooklyn pastries you don’t eat the pie. And oh yea, great Italian Bread.  

Every year for the past 12 or so I have entertained 40 plus people family and friends. I do all the cooking and they bring desserts ( I hate making them) and the feast always is a mixture of cultures and traditional as I allow others to add there special recipes and interpret them to make them have a new modern twist. This year with my business and TV taking up so much time I am going to my husband’s friends home to celebrate so it will be a little sad in a way.

Here are my tips and suggestions:

Carino Stuffing Being a New York born Italian means our stuffing was very different. These days I offer two but my core the one that people freak over has in it ground Italian sausage, fresh basil, imported mushrooms, garlic, and celery with shallots and onions all sautéed together then add in my freshly made chicken stock ( or buy the new great stocks like Swanson) bring that to a simmer and add in my bread and a stick of butter for richness. I always leave this very moist as I then bake it and that will dry it a bit so I always have moist turkey and stuffing.

Cranberry Sauce is a must have but only my way, no cans, 1 bag fresh cranberries simmered slowly with a teaspoon of fresh grated  ginger, a whole zested orange, 2 cups mango and 2 cups fresh orange juice and a small amount of natural sugar. I let this simmer until the liquid is evaporated and then chill and it comes out perfect every time. You will never go back to canned promise.

Turkey I have to say more people mess up the turkey than anything else. It’s an art and the biggest culprit is over cooking. I get a good over thermometer and cook my turkey to 155 and remove from the oven and let it rest 15 minutes or so. Here is the thing, while resting the turkey is still cooking another 20 degrees or so. Most people cook to 175 or 180 so when they serve it the internal maybe over 200 which equals nasty dry turkey. I cook 2 every year as people have never had better turkey.

I olive oil the outside well then season everywhere including inside of the turkey. I then put a stick of butter in the cavity and include chopped onion, garlic, carrots and celery under and around the turkey and cover with 32 ounces of fresh chicken stock. I then cover very well with foil and cook 15 minutes per pound at 295 degrees, and every hour increase by 25 degrees. I baste the turkey every 25 minutes but if buying a fresh turkey no need to do this and now the secret. I remove the foil when the bird hits 115 degrees and let it cook uncovered until it is golden brown and 155. The turkey will not brown while covered it just simmers and steams making it moist. Trust me and thank me later.

Enjoy your family, be thankful to God to be blessed to be alive and have family and friends to share. To me the most important holiday of the year is Thanksgiving.


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