Turkey tips, alternatives for Thanksgiving

November 2, 2009 (CHICAGO) (RELEASE) Dave, the owner of Zier's Prime Meats in Wilmette suggests alternative meat and poultry choices including Smoked Turkey Breast; Bone-in, Bacon-Wrapped, Stuffed Pork Roast; Boneless Rib Eye Roast; Crown Lamb Roast, or Whole Roasted Duck.

Dave has been in the meat business for over 30 years; he considers himself an old-fashioned butcher. Zier's meat market ziersprime.com on historic Ridge Road has been in business since the 1890s. Bon Appétit magazine called it one of the best kept secrets in Chicagoland.

To get you started on a turkey alternative, Dave shares his recipe for Stuffed Pork Roast with Dried Fruit and Port Wine with Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. He also has some tips for preparing a perfect traditional turkey.

Dave Zier's Tips on Cooking a Turkey

Remove Turkey from bag, remove Giblets. Illinois dept. of health recommends not washing any poultry before cooking this will reduce the chance of contaminating surrounding areas with salmonella if it's present in the birds. If you do wash your sink ,cutting boards and counter tops with soap and water, rinse and wipe down with a weak bleach solution -- Clorox makes a nice cleaner with bleach, but rinse after using.

Season to your taste (with salt, Pepper etc.). Stuff if desired.

Preheat oven to 350. Turkey should be at room temperature when you put it in the oven. That will take 45-60 minutes outside of the refrigerator.

Turkey Cooking Temps
Place turkey in oven:

  • 10-14#: 3 to 3 1/2 hours
  • 15-18#: 3 1/2 to 4 hours
  • 19-22#: 4 to 4 1/2 hours
  • 23-26#: 4 1/2 to 5 hours
  • 27-29#: 5 to 5 1/2 hours
  • 30+#: 51/2 to 6 hours

These times are for unstuffed. If you are stuffing add 1/2 hour to cooking time. These times are approximate. You should only baste the turkey once mid-way through the cooking time. If you baste more than once add 15 minutes for each time you baste or open the oven.( Most ovens take that long to get back up to temp.) You will know the bird is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. (The bird will continue to cook after it is out of the oven, this will bring the temp up to 180. If you do not use a meat thermometer another way to tell that it's done is the meat on the drumstick will start to pull way from the drumstick bone. The juices should run clear.

Remove before target temp. Let bird sit at room temp (dwell) covered with foil. Don't cook with foil tightly wrapped, loose like a tent, remove to brown the skin if crispness is what you like

More Turkey Tips from Dave Zier

  • Always start with a fresh turkey.
  • Smaller markets will take phone orders for locally produced birds (like Zier's Prime Meats- ziersprime.com)
  • Call soon to reserve, these are not factory grown, but birds, small family owned and operated farms.
  • Birds are never frozen... a big plus, juicier, and more tender…everyone is 100% guaranteed
  • One relatively new technique, using an ice pack to keep the breast meat cool while the bird sits at room temp before roasting. Breast always cooks fastest, legs take longer. Ice down the breast to slow down the cooking time.
  • Food safety: If you buy a frozen turkey don't thaw overnight on counter top, up to 4 days in your fridge Cooking times and temps, remove 10 to 20 degrees sooner than target temp. DO Not baste the bird

To brine or not to brine You can make your own brine:

  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar…white or brown
  • 1 gallon water
  • One raw egg in shell

Dissolve salt and sugar into warm water, place egg into liquid. If it floats brine is ready. If not floating dissolve more salt until egg floats to the top.


  • You may need more than 1 gallon of water for each bird.
  • Never re-use the solution.
  • Always brine under refrigeration.
  • Or you can use already-prepared brine and spice rub that's available at www.ziersprime.com. Advantage: no mixing, bag is included, spices included.


Zier's Prime Meats
813 Ridge Road, Wilmette, IL. 60091
847-251-4000 FAX 847-251-4051

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