Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's wishing all my American buddies a Happy Thanksgiving. Go easy on the turkey and may Santa bring you a decent health care bill.

I am amazed to read in the New York Times how many people look up turkey recipes.
Too late for today I guess, but here's my easy advice to cook a tasty juicy turkey.

1. Buy a fresh turkey. You are better off with a smaller fresh turkey, than a bigger frozen one. A smaller portion of something tasty, is better than a large portion of dried up tasteless meat.

2. Don't bother to stuff the turkey You can make the stuffing and bake it separate from the bird. Instead, put a half onion, a few celery stalks, a carrot, and a bunch of parsley tied with string (so it is easy to remove later)in the cavity. You don't even have to peel them, but wash and make sure the onion is cut in half. As for seasonings, that's your choice I rub a little sage on top and a bit of seasoning salt. This will add so much flavour to the pan juices for gravy later.

3. Start the oven at a high temperature 400-425 for the first half hour or so to give the turkey a chance to brown. Then turn the heat low to about 300- 325.

4. Check it every hour or so. Drain off any pan juices, and instead of using them to baste the turkey, use some water. Pour about half a cup of water all over the turkey and keep draining it off as you go along. Trust me, it really works and you will have enough pan juices to make a ton of tasty gravy.

5. You can use a thermometer to test if the turkey is cooked. I don't. I can tell from the legs( the skin will have shrunk away on them) and if the pan juices are clear, if it is done. Roughly one hour, plus another hour for every kilo. I have never had anybody get sick from eating my turkey, so I must be doing it right. And speaking of that: Allow the turkey to stand for about 20 minutes before you slice it, HOWEVER, DO NOT, let it sit around too long and don't keep it in a warm oven for very long after it is cooked. Half hour MAX. If you don't have time to remove all the meat from the carcass please find room in the fridge for the leftover turkey.
The greatest source of food poisoning is food improperly cooked and left to sit around. Also cross contamination. Clean any area, plates, and utensils used to prepare the raw meat and use clean ones to serve( yeah it's Mom again)

6. Take all your pan juices and if you want to remove the fat, place them in the fridge to allow it to cool and then just skim the fat off.

7. Put the pan juices to boil on the stove with the vegetables you used in the turkey. Allow that to simmer for a few minutes to squeeze as much flavour out of everything. Remove all this from the liquid and then taste to see if it needs more seasoning. Be careful not to burn your tongue(Gee do I sound like your mother?) The best way to thicken the gravy without having it turn out all gloppy and lumpy, is to use potato or rice flour or a combination of both. You can buy Veloutine which is a premixed combination of these and great because unlike regular flour, you can put it right in the hot liquid. Use a whisk to blend and if it gets a little too thick, simply add some water.
8. If you have to use regular flour, make a roux, which is flour blended with some melted butter. Add some of the liquid to this and whisk, then add that to the remaining liquid You can always make a bit more roux if the gravy isn't thick enough.If you still get lumps simply strain the whole works.

It really is much easier than it sounds and truthfully is much less tiring than me writing all this out. Don't be afraid It's only a turkey. If you have any questions feel free to ask. I'm always available to answer food questions. Food being one of my favourite things

Advice: Don't cook everything !! If baking isn't your thing buy pre made desserts !
Use frozen vegetables to save all that peeling They can taste as good as fresh if you don't over cook them.

Don't be a cooking martyr. If you don't feel like cooking. Don't do it! You can buy an entire cooked turkey meal with all the trimmings for about $90. it's supposed to be enough for 4 people, but I'm certain without gluttony it could serve 8.