Talking Turkey For The Holidays

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - December 24, 2008
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Waialae Kahala resident Cheryl Teruya has been a flight attendant for Hawaiian Airlines for almost 39 years. She feels that it is her job to make each flight as enjoyable for her passengers as possible. Cheryl likes to cook Japanese cuisine, and one of her favorites is her own version of nishime.

Wesley Hirata has been a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant for five years. He, too, is helping to make each passenger’s experience as pleasurable as possible. He is a graduate of KCC’s culinary arts program, and loves to cook for friends and relatives in his spare time, with his specialty being creative Italian dishes.

It is a pleasure to dedicate this column to two of Hawaiian Airlines’ best.

If you’re going to cook a holiday turkey, here are some turkey tips:

If you are using a frozen turkey, the preferred method of defrosting is in the refrigerator. Allow one day per 5 pounds. An alternate method is to defrost the turkey in a cold-water bath. Allow 30 minutes per pound.

Once the turkey is defrosted, remove the giblets, rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. If you are stuffing the turkey, do so now with a freshly prepared dressing. Stuff loosely, allowing about 1/2 to 3/4 cup per pound of bird. Brush the skin with melted butter or oil. Tuck the drumsticks under the folds of skin or tie together with string. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The thermometer should point toward the body, and should not touch the bone.

Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and into the pre-heated oven. The roasting time will vary according to the weight of the bird, and if it is stuffed or unstuffed. For instance, a stuffed 10- to 18-pound turkey will take 3 3/4 to 4 1/2 hours to cook.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until the skin is a light-golden color, and then cover loosely with a foil tent. During the last 45 minutes of baking, remove the foil tent to brown the skin. Basting will promote even browning.

The turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F, and when the breast meat reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees F. You can make a cut into the thigh and if the juices run clear, that is usually an indicator of doneness. If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the dressing. The stuffing should be 165 degrees F. When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 30 minutes before carving.

I always get requests for this recipe. It’s delicious and, as a bonus, is packed with fruit and whole-wheat bread to add fiber.

Merry Christmas!


*2 1/2 cups low-fat, low-sodium vegetable broth, no MSG

* 2 Maui onions, finely diced

* 3 cups diced whole-grain bread

* 3 cups cornbread

* 1/2 cup diced sweet apples

* 1/2 cup diced pears

* 1/2 cup dried cranberries, currants or golden raisins

* 1/2 teaspoon allspice

* 1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

*4 egg whites, beaten until frothy

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes until onions have softened. In a large bowl, combine the cooked onions, remaining broth, breads, fruit, spices and egg whites. Mix well. Place mixture inside the cavity of a turkey or place in a greased casserole dish. If stuffing is to be baked separately from the turkey, cover casserole dish with foil and place in a preheated 350-degree oven. Bake for 45 minutes and uncover. Continue baking for about 15 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Makes 12 1/2-cup servings. Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 95 Fat: 2 grams Sodium: 190 milligrams Cholesterol: 1 milligram

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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