Ramping up for the big to-do

Times Staff Writer

Dear SOS: Do you have a great recipe for a rotisserie turkey on the barbecue? I have baked, deep-fried, brined — looking for something new and exciting. Why not barbecue?


Porter Ranch

Columnist Russ Parsons answers: Turkeys cook well on the rotisserie. The first thing you need to do, though, is to check the instruction manual and make sure your rotisserie motor will support a 14- to 16-pound bird — some of them aren't strong enough.

Then (although I now recommend dry-salting for roasted birds) you should brine the turkey a couple of days in advance. I'd try to maintain a temperature of around 350 degrees — in my experience, rotisserie poultry is naturally moister than that cooked in the oven.

Pluck or torch?Dear SOS: Please help me avoid another two-hour exercise in frustration this Thanksgiving by telling me how best to get the feathers out of my kosher turkey. I've tried plucking them and it's about as fun and time-consuming as a root canal. Dousing the turkey in scorching hot water makes the feathers come out easily but presents food poisoning possibilities if one plans to brine the bird. Any ideas?


Los Angeles

Parsons answers: No question about it, removing the pin-feathers is a tedious chore. Other than doing it by hand (a good pair of tweezers or small needle nose pliers really helps), I have one friend who burned them off with a crème brûlée torch. Move quickly!

Stuffing sequelDear SOS: I have a recipe of my own for stuffing, however, I would like to give it a new twist. What would be a good addition?



Test kitchen director Donna Deane answers: There are any number of ingredients that can transform your basic stuffing recipe. Roasted chestnuts, toasted hazelnuts, pecans or cashews are delicious. Or chop up and add fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary or sage. You can bring in a citrus note with orange or lemon peel or sweeten with dried fruit such as raisins, currants, apricots, peaches or figs. And adding cooked Spanish chorizo makes for a flavorful and spicy variation.

Temperature testDear SOS: Where should the tip of the thermometer be for accurate temperature readings? Should it be inserted between the turkey's body and the leg?


La Palma

Deane answers: An instant-read thermometer should be inserted between the body and the leg of the turkey into the thigh. You will want to insert it into the deepest part of the thigh but not touching the bone.

Insert the thermometer in two or three different spots to be sure your reading is accurate. When the thermometer reads 165 degrees, remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes to allow the juices to settle before carving.

Turn up the heat Dear SOS: I like to cook my turkey on a Weber charcoal grill but sometimes I have a hard time keeping the temperature up even after adding the required five charcoal extra per hour. My birds weigh 10 to 12 pounds and I usually brine them first. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep the grill hotter?


Sherman Oaks

Parsons answers: The obvious question is: You're cooking them covered, right? Other than that, if the five briquettes per hour aren't doing the trick, I'd try doing five every half an hour and monitoring the temperature to see what happens.


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