Some of the best food around can be found in West Columbia’s restaurants.
But as Thanksgiving nears, the chefs who spend the year feeding their clientele, turn homeward. Not only is cooking their work, it’s a labor of love for their families.
Terra’s Chef and Owner Mike Davis moved to moved to Charleston, after graduating from the University of Alabama, to attend Johnson and Wales. He has worked under high-profile and award-winning chefs in Charleston, New Orleans and Birmingham. In 2006, Davis opened Terra on West Columbia’s State Street. At Terra, Davis has received a hefty amount of notoriety for his culinary expertise. At this time of the year, he uses his hand as his family celebrates Turkey Day.
“I use a heritage turkey,” said Davis. It’s an all natural bird pasture-raised without medicines and growth stimulants. The legs are big, but the breasts are small. It’s a six-to-seven-pound turkey, from Wil-Moore Farms in Lugoff. He then described his preparation method.
“I season the turkey in a brine,” said Davis.
The brine includes cranberry juice to make it sweet, garlic, juniper berries, mustard seed, coriander seed, sugar, old spice, and salt. He boils the brine and then adds ice to cool it.
The turkey sits in the brine, refrigerated, overnight.
Davis said he cuts an orange and a lemon in half and puts that into the bird, along with salt and pepper and other spices.
He said he cooks the turkey until it’s brown on the outside. He said he uses a probe thermometer and takes the turkey out of the oven when it’s between 140 and 145 degrees. “You do not want it to get too dry. You want it moist,” Davis said.
Marila Trubyfil owns Cafe Strudel with her husband Trip. It’s been in business for 20 years on State Street. She cooks the Thanksgiving turkey for her family.
“I like a no-hormone turkey, 10-12 pounds,” Trubyfil said.
Before cooking the turkey, Trubyfil said she soaks the bird overnight (12-to-14 hours) in a brine of apple cider, peppercorn, sea salt and water.
“I use a rub of butter and herbs,” she said. “I like sage.”
She said she cooks the turkey slow, five-to-six hours at 275-to-300 degrees.
“It’s really, really good,” said Trubyfil.
She also said Mrs. Mary’s (her mother’s recipe) mac and cheese and company carrots top the meal off the Thanksgiving meal at the Trubyfil’s house.
Trip said Marila’s turkeys are good. He also said the Trubyfil house is a popular destination at Thanksgiving.
“We’re glad to have a lot company,” he said. “It’s a good way to show thanks.”
Compton’s Kitchen celebrated 40 years last month. Owner Martha Cooke is seated, front.
Martha Cooke is the owner of Compton’s Kitchen, on B Avenue in West Columbia. She has been with the neighborhood-favorite restaurant for 30 years.
“We fry our turkey,” Cooke said. “We rub the turkey down with salt and pepper and let it sit overnight. The next day we put it in the grease at 350 degrees, three minutes for every pound. It’s moist when you fry it. And it’s not greasy.”
Cooke prepares her family’s turkey, and Compton’s caters lots of birds for Thanksgiving.
“We cook turkeys that are 10-to-14 pounds or 14-to-18 pounds,” Cooke said.”We’ve been frying them for 25 years. I cook mine on the day before, because it’s one less thing I have to do on Thanksgiving.”
Bobby and Anna Williams opened their first Lizard’s Thicket restaurant in 1977. they have two in West Columbia.
“We cook a traditional turkey,” said Williams, who is also the father-in-law of Mike Davis, owner of Terra.
“We cook what my mother used to make,” Williams said.
Williams said he cooks a Butterball turkey seasoned with salt and pepper. The bird is placed in the oven in the oven at 350 degrees, 15 minutes a pound.
Williams also said the dressing is important part of the Thanksgiving meal.
“For the dressing we use cornbread, sage, bell pepper, onions and chicken broth,” he said.
Williams said he uses a probe thermometer and cooks the turkey until its inside temp is 160 degrees.
No doubt Thanksgiving is a special time of the year for these West Columbia chefs, no matter how many they feed throughout the year, The best of cooks make sure the ones they love are served bountifully, as we all give thanks.
Full story: www.westmetronews.com.