An estimated 80 million Americans are expected to cook their own turkeys for the first time this Thanksgiving as people adhere to health guidelines about not traveling home for the holiday. Among them is mom Meena Lee-DePasquale, whose family usually spends Thanksgiving with loved ones in Ohio.
“I've never made a turkey before,” she told Inside Edition. "This year, obviously because of COVID, my brother has MS so we're just being extra cautious, we're gonna do a Zoom Thanksgiving instead, so I have to cook for my family."
Inside Edition caught up with celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito for some helpful tips.
“It really can be as simple as this,” DiSpirto said.
The chef says not to overthink it. Place the bird in a roasting pan and simply season it with salt, pepper, olive oil and rosemary and put it in the oven at 300 degrees.
"The turkey's gonna be ready in a few hours. It's usually 20 minutes per pound — that's the rule of thumb, but I take it out when it's ready,” DiSpirito said.
It’s also best not to rely on a pop-up timer, according to the chef.
"When the pop-up timer pops, your bird is overcooked,” DiSpirto said. "You should actually take out a bird at 150 degrees, these are set to pop at 165.”
He says to let it rest after taking it out, adding that "as long as you don't overcook your turkey, it'll be delicious!"
As for the crowd-favorite stuffing, the chef says, “You can use any bread you want, you can season it with anything you want. But the only thing I recommend is that you cook it outside of the bird.”
First, combine butter and olive oil in a hot pan. Add chopped onions, celery and carrots. Meanwhile, cut your loaf of bread into cubes, then place them in the pan and let it cook. Lastly, add turkey stock and poultry seasoning.
DiSpirito says if you're having a small gathering, you can cut your turkey cooking time down to minutes not hours. There's no need to prepare a full bird, just stick to turkey breasts instead.
"I have two halves here. This is roughly four pounds, should be more than enough for a family your size,” he said.
Season with salt and pepper and place inside a pot with turkey stock heated up to 165 degrees.