Chef Dave Brown grills his turkey

Nov 22, 2011

The food at Brody Square dining hall at Michigan State University has become very popular among not only students, but also among faculty and lots of visitors. There's a sushi bar, fresh pasta, carved meats, and international and vegetarian meals.

WKAR's Gretchen Milllich went to Brody Square to talk with Executive Chef Dave Brown about what he's cooking for Thanksgiving dinner.

DAVE BROWN: For Thanksgiving, I go pretty traditional, but what I do differently is break the turkey down, and marinate it in oil, herbs, garlic and salt, and grill it on the barbecue. I make little turkey breast steaks and cook it on the grill and slice it and serve it up on a platter.

GRETCHEN MILLICH: Why do it like that?

BROWN: I think the white meat turns out better. Instead of roasting a whole turkey and over-cooking it, just cook it up on the barbecue grill. It goes back quite a few years to a menu item that we did in the hotel business. We did a turkey steak, and we grilled it. So, from there, I just took the whole turkey, de-boned the breast meat, cut it into steaks, and then took the thigh and the leg, marinated them and just grilled them up. You can still, slice it, platter it and make it very presentable for the holiday.

MILLICH: Do you grill on a gas grill or is there smoke involved?

BROWN: I have a gas grill, and I have a charcoal. So, if I've got time, I'll use charcoal. If I'm doing something quick, I'll use the gas. But for that, I'll use charcoal.

MILLICH: Better flavor that way?

BROWN: Absolutely.

MILLICH: But that leads to a question. What do you do about gravy and stuffing?

BROWN: If I grill the turkey, I won't make gravy. I'll just do a cranberry relish that goes really well with it. I do still make the stuffing.

MILLICH: Tell me about your stuffing recipe.

BROWN: I'll accumulate bread, and I've had the luxury of working in the business where I get good leftover bread and the hard, crusty breads which make the best stuffing. Then throw my seasonings in there, brown up some sausage, and combine them and bake it off.

MILLICH: Do you have traditional Thanksgiving dishes, maybe some old family recipes that you serve at Thanksgiving?

BROWN: I grew up in northern Minnesota. Up there, the cuisine is very traditional. Growing up, I ate shoe-leather pork chops and turkey cooked very well done. I grew up with a lot of canned vegetables, from the garden or store-bought cans. Today, fresh vegetables are the way to go. That's why I thrive as a chef, because now I eat really well.

MILLICH: At Brody, you feed hundreds of people every day, and people seem to be pretty happy with the food here. Do you have any tips for people having a big crowd over for Thanksgiving? How can they please a lot of guests?

BROWN: Basically, there's a lot you can do ahead of time. I'm used to prepping and preparing things ahead of time. When I'm cooking at home, I just have one refrigerator. So, you've got to plan so you can get done what you can get done, and get things ready. So, on Thanksgiving Day, the turkey's ready to go, all your vegetables are cut and prepped and ready to go. So you can wake up, throw the turkey in and have an easy day. Easier said than done.