Feats of the Feast: Interview with Executive Chef Thomas Moran

Feats of the Feast Images

  • Cooked Turkey Set on Table for Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wanting to make the perfect Thanksgiving dinner? We sat down with Pacific Palms Resort's Executive Chef Thomas Moran and asked for advice for the big upcoming holiday where it concerns kitchen duty.

Chef Moran brought more than 15 years of expertise when he entered our kitchen, with experience at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, The Viceroy Hotel Group, and the Regent Beverly Hills Wilshire just to name a few.

Now, we’ve asked him to help us out with planning our Thanksgiving dinner in Los Angeles and maybe give you some creative ideas too!

If we’re having about 20 people over for dinner, what size turkey should I get and how many side dishes should I prepare?

You should get a 20-pound Turkey for 20 people. There is a lot of empty space in the cavity and it will lose weight when cooking. Give it four days to thaw in your refrigerator as it takes time. If you want to brine your turkey, then let it thaw in the brine. Three parts water, one part vinegar, one part salt and add seasoning spices: thyme, peppercorns, rosemary, sage (whatever you like). Cook the turkey slowly in a 300-degree oven and cook it until it is 160 degrees on a good kitchen thermometer. Pull it out and cover in foil and let rest on the counter for 30 minutes whilst you prepare and finish you side dishes.

This year I am preparing five side dishes, mashed potatoes with sour cream, twice baked Okinawa purple potatoes, green beans with butter and sea salt, baby carrots and cream cheese baked spinach and artichoke casserole.

How often should I baste my turkey? Or are there alternatives to basting?

I like to marinate or brine the turkey three days ahead. It gives the turkey great flavor and eliminates all the basting because the flavor is in the bird, not the pan…it is also safer, I don’t like getting spatters or burns.

What’s a new spin to a classic side dish that you think will be popular this year?

I am cooking Okinawa potatoes instead of traditional garnet sweet potatoes. They are so sweet and dark purple. I am going to bake them, split them in half, and place them in a baking dish. I will season them with salt, butter, and brown sugar. I will then bake it again till it is hot and gooey.

What’s the most interesting stuffing recipe you’ve had?

My mother made great stuffing so I stick to it. Fills a bird plus a 9x9 baking dish, five loaves of white bread, one cup of celery, one cup of onion, and one cup of carrots all diced and sautéed golden brown. Add to the bread celery salt, Bell’s poultry seasoning (lots), 12 eggs, the vegetables, and one cup chicken broth. Mix it all, then place it in the bird and the butter pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

What kind of side dishes can we prepare the day before and just reheat quickly?

I prefer to do all of the prep the day before. And then cook on Thanksgiving Day. Examples, blanch all of the carrots, green beans, chill and they are ready to be sautéed and on the table quickly. Chop all of the potatoes and keep them in the pot with water for the mashies. In my case, I will mix my cream cheese spinach and artichoke casserole and have it in the pan ready for the oven and then to the table.

The goal is to do as little as possible the day of so you can entertain and have fun!

Do you have a favorite wine to pair with your Thanksgiving dinner?

A dry Riesling or steel fermented Chardonnay (not too much oak) or for red, I prefer a California Pinot Noir (Mark West Sonoma is nice and inexpensive).

What are your favorite alternative desserts to pumpkin pie?

Bread Pudding is great and warm and easy. Serve with chocolate and caramel sauces. Ice cream is great with it as well.

What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?

Cooking, drinking wine with family and friends is always fun for me…

Thanks to Thomas for taking time away from his kitchen to chat with us! What are you favorite holiday recipes? Tell us on our Facebook page!

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