One top chef in town says get busy with the turkey Tuesday, not Thanksgiving!

NOW: One top chef in town says get busy with the turkey Tuesday, not Thanksgiving!

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Il Mito owner and chef Michael Feker says your number one goal on Thanksgiving should be doing nothing.  Feker says you should actually be cooking your bird Tuesday or Wednesday and making all your sides the day before as well.   The last thing you want on this big holiday is to be overstressed and underprepared.  As far as whether you should stuff your bird while cooking, the Wauwatosa restaurateur has advice on this as well.  

Feker doles up even more recommendations.  He says the turkey should be first cooked at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.  Then it's 275 degrees for 20-minute intervals per pound.  Also, he says you only need to carve the white meat, not dark.  See below for additional turkey recipes courtesy of Chef Feker. 

Italian sausage, tri-color peppers, and mushroom stuffing


4 servings

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed

2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms,

2 cups of chopped tri-color peppers
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup of your favorite Italian herbs mixture (chopped fine) Italian parsley, rosemary, basil
about 4 to 6 cups of  artisan bread or good crusty Italian bread cut in 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or more as needed
1 turkey (about 12 pounds), giblets removed and discarded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves
2 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add sausage and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Add peppers, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and seasoning and cook until mushrooms soften about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add bread cubes, cheese, parsley, and 1 1/2 cups broth. Toss to combine, allowing liquid to soften bread cubes. If stuffing seems dry, add more broth to soak cubes. Refrigerate covered and let rest for 1 hour.

Tips from Chef Michael Feker:

  • Always remember that your turkey is going to have a carryover cooking period of up to 10 degrees.
  • Always stuff your bird loosely so that the heat is allowed to rotate and penetrate through your stuffing
  • Crucial tip: Create a basting liquid of chicken broth, butter (3 cans of broth 1 stick of butter), and baste your bird every 15 minutes.

Chef Feker’s Amazingly Thankful Turkey

Serves 12

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: about 3 hours depending on your oven

Chef’s Tools: Instant read thermometer


3-tablespoon of sea salt

4-tablespoon  Paprika

4-teaspoons Garlic Powder

3-tablespoon of onion powder

1-teaspoon white pepper

1-teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-teaspoon of cumin

2-teaspoon of ground fennel

1-whole turkey (12 to 14 pounds), fresh or if frozen, thawed under cold water and brined if you can

1-tablespoon olive oil

2 lemons cut in quarters

1 onion cut in quarters

4 sprigs of rosemary

4 bays leaf

1 stick of salted butter at room temperature


1. Place oven rack in lowest position. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place roasting rack in shallow roasting pan or use some largely cut carrots and onions as a rack. Mix first 8 ingredients in small bowl.

2. After rinsing and drying the turkey with a paper towel. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the seasoning mixture inside of turkey. Stuff with lemons, rosemary, onion and bay leaves. Brush turkey with olive oil. Spread 1/2 remaining seasoning mixture over entire surface the other half of remaining seasoning and the butter under the skin of the turkey. Add 1/2 cup water to pan; cover the breast loosely with heavy duty foil.

3. Roast for 20 minutes at 400, then reduce temperature to 225, remove foil and roast for 20 minutes per pound basting occasionally with pan juices.. Check the internal temperature.  Once internal temperature reaches (155°F in thigh). Turn off the oven and allow to sit in the oven for 10 more minutes.  Remove turkey from oven. Let rest for at least 20 minutes and then cover with aluminum foil. When ready to serve pre-heat oven to 450 and place turkey back into the preheated oven uncovered for another twenty minutes remove and serve by Transferring to serving platter or carving board. Strain pan juices remove fat to make gravy or to serve with turkey.

Chef Feker’s Italian Brine


3 3/4 cups (2 pounds) kosher salt
1/2 cup (8 ounces) lemon pepper

1/2 cup of ground rosemary

1/2 cup of garlic powder
1 16- to 18-pound turkey, quills removed if necessary and neck, giblets, and liver removed (reserve for gravy)

To Brine turkey:

Place a large pot on the fire and add 1 gallon of water and bring to a boil, add all dry ingredients and stir to dissolve. Let cool then transfer to an 8 gallon plastic container and add another 4 gallon of water.  Place turkey in the liquid and, if necessary, place large plate on top to submerge. Cover with plastic or garbage bag tightly and refrigerate entire bucket at least hours up to 36 hours. If container does not fit in the refrigerator place in a cooler and surround with ice. Maintain temp at 38F at all time.

Remove turkey by holding the legs and holding the bird over a bucket. Shake well and pad dry inside the cavity and out.

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