Chef Cole Arimes shares his tips for a perfect turkey

Cole Arimes


Executive Chef and Lexington restaurant owner Cole Arimes has been making the family’s Thanksgiving turkey together with his mother, Bekki Turnbull, for more than thirty years. Their family recipe brings the best of a traditional Thanksgiving turkey to the table, every year. Bekki and Cole prefer to brine their turkey (a 16-18 lb bird) for a full 24 hours prior to preparing to cook. According to Cole, the brining ensures that the turkey turn out juicy, no matter what quality bird you purchase.

Roasting the Turkey

¼ lb. butter

Salt & Pepper (as needed)

Cheese cloth

1 carrot

2 celery ribs

1 medium onion

1 whole turkey (16-18 lbs)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roughly chop all vegetables and place in a large roasting pan. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables, wings up. Season the skin with salt and coat with butter, then wrap the top of the turkey with cheese cloth. Tent the roasting pan with aluminum foil and place in preheated oven. Roast until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Remove foil tent and continue cooking until skin is golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.


Turkey Brine

2 carrots

2 celery ribs

1 yellow onion

6 bay leaves

10 peppercorns

½ oz fresh thyme

½ oz fresh tarragon

1 oz. Italian parsley

1 cup lemon juice

1 cup kosher salt

2 gallons water (enough to cover turkey)

Roughly chop all produce and add to a five-gallon bucket. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add a large raw turkey, making sure it is completely covered in the brine solution. Brine for at least 24 hours before cooking. Can also be kept in a cooler if unable to store in the refrigerator.



1 medium onion

2 celery ribs

1 large carrot

Chicken stock (as needed)

3 tsp. poultry seasoning

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

¼ bunch Italian parsley, chopped

20 cups stale bread

1 can sliced water chestnuts

2 oz unsalted butter

Dice all vegetables and sauté in the butter until onions are translucent. Add seasonings and parsley. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken stock and mix thoroughly. Add stock, one cup at a time, until consistency is wet but still slightly firm. Let stand for five minutes to allow bread to soak up the stock. Check consistency, add more stock if needed. Will vary depending on the type of bread and how stale it is. Then stuff inside the turkey or bake in a buttered casserole dish covered with aluminum foil at 325 degrees for about 1 hr. until temp is 155 degrees.  Remove foil to brown before serving.


Chef Cole’s Tips for the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey & Dressing

  • Everyone debates whether they’ll change the menu each year – they never do. In Cole’s words, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
  • Their family Thanksgiving dinner is typically hosted at Cole’s mom Bekki’s house, but this year, they’re gathering at Epping’s to allow for more space for safe social distancing.
  • Cole and Bekki cook for their family every year, sometimes for groups of up to 45 people.
  • Cole closes his restaurants each year so all staff can be with their family.
  • Thanksgiving is Cole’s favorite holiday of the year! It’s only about his three favorite things:  food, family and friends.