Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: TootsNYC on November 01, 2013, 02:52:17 PM

Title: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 01, 2013, 02:52:17 PM
I think I'm going to get to host the family holiday again this year. Last year I undercooked the turkey and didn't make gravy.

Big mistake!

I've been thinking that maybe I should try both again before the big day.

But how silly is that? Should I just try to make gravy, or find a make-ahead gravy so I have it as backup?

Or would roasting a small chicken help me at all? It seems like it wouldn't.

I've never worried about roasts before--my experience with them is that there's not that much technique to it, except for not overcooking it. They've always come out fine.

But the turkey was weirder--and I had more conflicting advice, and chose the wrong one. Plus I didn't know how much it weighed bcs the butcher didn't tell me and I didn't realize until I was home and had no way to measure it.


And, any general tips for how to handle the big meal, multiple stuff, etc., would be welcome. I've already realized that I need to prep all the plates, platters, linens, etc., at least 2 days before so it's not in the way.

And of course, some foods can be done a day or more ahead.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on November 01, 2013, 02:56:51 PM
I wouldn't think a dress rehearsal would be a bad idea at all. Though a large turkey twice would be costly.

I know the year my mom and I hosted we did as much the night before as humanly possible. Including things like chopping veggies and making some dishes before hand. So day of we warmed up a lot of stuff, and cooked the turkey. Mom handled the bird so I'm unhelpful there. I just lifted it out of the oven. We really did it so we could spend more time socializing with our guests and less time slaving away over the food.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: DavidH on November 01, 2013, 02:58:52 PM
I like turkey and it's not particularly expensive, so I don't see a reason not to practice before hand.  You just need to plan the leftovers.  Knowing the oven, and having a good thermometer is a great help. The pop up ones in certain turkeys are not that reliable. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: MorgnsGrl on November 01, 2013, 03:00:58 PM
I don't see anything wrong with practicing. Maybe in advance you should come up with half a dozen recipes, including a good soup, you can make with all that turkey! And obviously you can freeze some of it for future use.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on November 01, 2013, 03:02:16 PM
I like turkey and it's not particularly expensive, so I don't see a reason not to practice before hand.  You just need to plan the leftovers.  Knowing the oven, and having a good thermometer is a great help. The pop up ones in certain turkeys are not that reliable.

The first year my mom did a thanksgiving dinner (I was 5-ish), the pop-up never popped-up! The bird was well done. Of course I was five, so I covered it in gravy and thought it was great!

Mom owns a meat thermometer now.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on November 01, 2013, 03:05:02 PM
I've goofed on the doneness of the turkey before because of a change in roasting pan.  We have a lovely, stainless steel roasting pan.  But for some reason, you have to add about an hour to the cooking time when you use it.  It just doesn't seem to transfer the heat as well as the old pan.  So for your cooking time, keep that in mind.  It is about 20 minutes to the pound for roasting, reducing to 15 minutes to the pound if the bird is over about 18 pounds.

If you are concerned about timing, put the bird in earlier.  You can always turn the oven down or worse comes to worse, let the meat be a bit cold.  The gravy will warm it up.

What roasting a chicken might help with, though, is practicing the gravy on a smaller scale.  I use the drippings and some water off the potatoes and carrots, if I have it.  I mix up cornstarch in water to use as a thickener.  I also use a product called Bisto for the gravy but it does add a fair amount of salt.  If you are concerned, you could always buy a premade gravy to have, just in case.

I pour the drippings into a glass measuring cup or bowl and let everything settle.  I skim off most of the fat, return the drippings to the pan, add in 2 to 1 ratio of potato to carrot water (the carrot water adds some sweetness but it isn't crucial if you don't have it).  Then the cornstarch and water mixture is added, along with the Bisto if you are going to use it.  The gravy shouldn't be boiling yet when you add the cornstarch; otherwise you'll get lumps.  I just boil everything until it gets to the consistency I want and pour it in the gravy boat.  We like having some of the bits in it but if you don't, just strain it to remove those.

As for getting the weight of the bird, do you have bathroom scales?  Weigh yourself holding the turkey and without the turkey and subtract.   :)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: cicero on November 01, 2013, 03:05:47 PM
definitely buy a fool proof/package gravy to have as a backup.

as for the turkey - it sounds like what went wrong was that you didn't have the correct weight. So make sure you do this time. Personally i'm not wild about turkey (i'll eat it but wouldn't want a freezer full of lefteovers) but if you guys do like it, then why not? (just write everything down as you go along, so you can replicate the success).

Do aheads - mainly the shopping (drinks? ice? dessert? ), setting the table, taking out the big platters, matching serving utensils to serving bowls. I think probably on BH&G or Epicurious you can find a "countdown to t-giving" chart that will help you organize.

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: alice on November 01, 2013, 03:11:03 PM
If you have to practice, great.  If not, start a list and keep on top of it.  That is how we handle thanksgiving every year, and we have been hosting it since 1992 with upwards of 36 people.  Lists keep us on track.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Vall on November 01, 2013, 03:15:01 PM
I had the same thought about the bathroom scales as Outdoor Girl.

I think practicing sounds like a fun thing to do as long as you like turkey.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jedikaiti on November 01, 2013, 03:24:23 PM
I think a trial run sounds like a great idea, so long as you like turkey (or know someone you can feed it to). :-)

I'm also going to POD making sure you have the correct weight, and a meat thermometer. You can get a decent probe thermometer (where the end you stick in the bird has a cable linking it to the read-out outside the oven) for maybe $15 - $20. Just make sure you read the directions on how to position it.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: camlan on November 01, 2013, 03:29:29 PM
My mom always made the gravy--two kinds, with and without giblets. But she also always had a can or two of gravy on hand. It was useful if we ran out of the homemade gravy, and if we didn't need it on Thanksgiving, it came in handy a few days later for the leftovers.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: AvidReader on November 01, 2013, 03:30:34 PM
A dress rehearsal is not a bad thing and there are a few tricks that can save you some time on T-day.  I've given up roasting the whole bird.  I buy a breast, thighs, and legs.  Roast the breast for the recommended amount of time for its weight, then for the last hour, toss in the thighs and legs.
 
If you intend to make gravy on T-day, here's a super tip.  Take the drippings from your dress rehearsal bird and either make enough gravy for both events (and freeze half), or take half the drippings and freeze them to be used on T-day.  If you find so much cooking on T-day to be stressful, opt for making the gravy in advance and freezing it to re-heat when needed.  Either way, this will get you away from waiting for the bird to be done before you can start preparing the gravy.  My little secret....I will use last year's frozen drippings to make this year's gravy, then I will freeze this year's drippings for use next year.

Since I don't have a bird to stuff, I do dressing in the crockpot.  Prepare a preferred dressing, put it in the crockpot 1 hour on high and 6 hours on low.   This will get you away from too many things competing for oven space. 

Since many dishes seem to taste better "the next day," I make cranberry relish and pumpkin dessert (it varies year to year) the day before. 

I keep the meal itself rather simple.  If I do mashed potatoes, I won't do sweet potatoes.  I do add a steamed green vegetable.  If I'm having a crowd and plan a soup course, I'll make that ahead and freeze.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 01, 2013, 03:34:26 PM
Following cicero's advice, I went looking for "countdown to..." links. And found a recipe for "Deconstructed Turkey"--basically, buying turkey parts and roasting them in their own pans. (typed this while AvidReader was typing, apparently!)

That's sort of interesting--it would mean you could have more turkey legs, and you could cook the breast differently from the thighs, etc.

My problem last year was I didn't get the oven hot enough. I was following some weird recipe. (the "too many sources of advice" problem)

Alice, I forget sometimes about lists--or about starting them this early. Thanks for that reminder.

Not sure I can used canned gravy, since it needs to be gluten free--that exists, but I'm not sure I can find it easily. (I'm willing to have some things be stuff I can't eat, but not gravy.)

I like AvidReader's tip about gravy; I've found a few make-ahead gravy recipes and thought about doing that.

And the crockpot sounds good for moist stuffing!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Missy2U on November 01, 2013, 03:54:54 PM
Do you have a Boston Market anywhere near you?  They apparently do have gluten free gravy. (http://www.triumphdining.com/blog/2011/01/21/boston-market-gravy-gluten-free/)  You could always buy some ahead of time.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Amara on November 01, 2013, 04:08:44 PM
I make everything but the turkey ahead of time.

As soon as you can buy fresh cranberries do. Do not freeze them, but make the sauce and then freeze that in glass jars (about 3/4 full).

Either about one week before or the weekend before, make and cook the dressing and refrigerate that, tightly wrapped.

Make the gravy by buying turkey or chicken stock, good wine, some herbs, and turkey parts bought separately like necks, wings, etc. and simmering them until you get thick stock. Refrigerate, then skim the fat off. Use that to make your gravy. Bring to a boil, turn to simmer, add 1 cup of milk that has been shaken in a glass jar with four tablespoons of flour to remove flour granules, and pour slowly into the hot broth, stirring with a wire whisk. Add minced fresh herbs (basil, sage, thyme) and stir to mix those in. Add freshly ground pepper, kosher salt, and either freshly ground nutmeg or mace. Let simmer a minimum of 10 minutes. Cool, store in glass jars, and refrigerate.

Buy and wash all salad ingredients and vegetables the weekend before. Prep what you can, including tearing the greens into bite-size pieces, and store in individual glass jars in the refrigerator. Make herb butter if you want for the vegetables.

If you want rolls or such make them and freeze them. I buy my pie from a local pie specialty shop and refrigerate that; if I use whipped cream I buy that and whip it while the turkey is in the oven.

The day of, if you have done all this up to a week ahead of time, will be so easy. The night before take the turkey out of its wrapping--make sure it is thawed!--and pat it dry. Let it sit on a platter or dish in the refrigerator to dry it out. Do whatever you like to the breast and skin. Roast.

Last year was the first time I followed this to a "T" and it worked so wonderfully I spent most of the day playing because I had nothing to do!

ETA: I always make my gravy from the previous year's turkey by taking the drippings, adding plenty of wine and stock, simmering the carcass in it for a couple of hours, and then refrigerating and de-fatting it before putting it into individual glass jars and freezing it. I do this the day after T-Day. That way I always have the necessary stock for the gravy without having to deal with hot drippings. You can also make this any time over the year by buying the turkey parts and making, then freezing it.






Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: shhh its me on November 01, 2013, 04:23:50 PM
 If you're worried about under cooking invest in a meat thermometer, much easier then practicing with a turkey. 

I've always been hit or miss with gravy so I'd had a jar as a back up.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on November 01, 2013, 04:29:23 PM
I'm realizing I have no idea how to make gravy without a packet mix.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Olympia on November 01, 2013, 04:59:02 PM
I'm realizing I have no idea how to make gravy without a packet mix.

Try looking through these:

http://www.marthastewart.com/856455/easy-thanksgiving-gravy-recipes/@center/859093/everyday-foods-easiest-thanksgiving?search_key=gravy

You might want to do a test run if you've never made gravy before, but it's fairly simple once you get the hang of it. Martha has some great recipes, depending on how elaborate you feel like getting.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 01, 2013, 05:35:50 PM
... add 1 cup of milk that has been shaken in a glass jar with four tablespoons of flour to remove flour granules, a...



Great recipe to have around for others--I can't do flour.
I could do a slurry w/ cornstarch, though.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: mkkristen on November 01, 2013, 05:44:13 PM
Trader Joes sells a GF gravy. I've been gluten free since 2011 and last year DH bought a couple boxes. I said how good it was and he came home with like 20 more boxes. It's a pretty good gravy. It's not as good as the stuff my aunt makes for Thanksgiving, but it's pretty good. Whole Foods might have one too, but I feel like they had one in 2011 and then last year didn't.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: kckgirl on November 01, 2013, 05:46:03 PM
I read a blog once about cooking a Thanksgiving meal. The author cooked her turkey the day before Thanksgiving and refrigerated it overnight. When it was time to serve, she arranged it on the platter and served it with her hot gravy. Nobody even knew the turkey was cold.

I don't see why you can't follow the recipe above with corn starch in place of the flour, but I don't know if the amount of corn starch would be the same as flour. I'm sure it would be easy to find out.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: POF on November 01, 2013, 06:21:25 PM
Americas Test Kitchen had a good recipe for making the gravy in advance using turkey legs and wings.   

I make a project plan of working backwards in time - from when I want to serve to when I need to shop.

I also get out all my serving dishes and utensils and put post its on them on what they are for.

What are you serving and maybe I can give you some additional advice.  Toots you seem like the most organized on top of it person in the world and I bet yout T-Day goes off without a hitch.

I never use stuffing in the turkey - it makes the turkey dry in my opinion and takes too long to cook.


Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Tea Drinker on November 01, 2013, 06:23:13 PM
Getting the turkey weighed before you bring it home seems useful if not absolutely necessary (so many recipes for roasts are x minutes/pound that coordinating the timing with other food would be tricky without knowing the weight of your bird).

Beyond that, I would try to rehearse all new dishes/recipes (e.g. if you've been doing sweet potatoes for years, but this year want to do them with apples instead of marshmallows, or boiled and mashed instead of roasted, that counts as new no matter how many times you've cooked sweet potatoes) or add at most one new dish, and be sure that you'll be okay if that doesn't work out. (If you always have both sweet potatoes and rolls, and are confident of those, you'll still have a good meal if the stuffing doesn't come out the way you'd hoped.)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 01, 2013, 06:36:48 PM
Americas Test Kitchen had a good recipe for making the gravy in advance using turkey legs and wings.   

I saw one of those too, and thought that I might well do that. Then all the stress of tackling something sort of unfamiliar will be on some OTHER day.

I find it hard to do complicated cooking with people in the house.

Quote
I make a project plan of working backwards in time - from when I want to serve to when I need to shop.

I've done that before as well--a big chart.

Quote
I also get out all my serving dishes and utensils and put post its on them on what they are for.

I've done that occasionally--and I didn't start early enough to Tgiving. But I think I'll remember your advice and make sure I do it--two days before, LOL!

Quote
What are you serving and maybe I can give you some additional advice.  Toots you seem like the most organized on top of it person in the world and I bet yout T-Day goes off without a hitch.
Aw, thanks!
But it didn't last year!


I may be back to this thread when I get a little more specific.

Last year I made shredded brussels sprouts, but I forgot how much work it would be. So I might make a small batch just to see if using the food processor would help (I actually don't like my f.p. much). and I may do whole ones.

Quote
I never use stuffing in the turkey - it makes the turkey dry in my opinion and takes too long to cook.

Good to know. Most times I've done a whole bird of one kind or another, I've thrown cut-up aromatic vegetables in there (onions, celery, carrots, bay leaf).
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jpcher on November 01, 2013, 06:55:20 PM
... add 1 cup of milk that has been shaken in a glass jar with four tablespoons of flour to remove flour granules, a...



Great recipe to have around for others--I can't do flour.
I could do a slurry w/ cornstarch, though.

Cornstarch works well for gravies but it needs to be added at the very end of gravy mixing (just before serving) otherwise it will quickly over-cook and loose it's thickening power. You'll end up with thin gravy . . . which isn't bad if you like a brothy-type gravy, but then never mind adding the cornstarch in the first place.

I do like Amara's recipe for pre-prepared gravy, but if you're using cornstarch do everything in the recipe except for the flour part and then when you heat it up for service, add your cornstarch slurry once the broth is simmering, mix well, then turn off the heat and serve.


For the turkey . . . is there any chance that you have an oven roaster? ( http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Food-Warmer---18-Quart-Roaster-Oven-c110p7782.html?cid=WSCSGOCKE815-044pla&CAWELAID=1213858517&catargetid=320013760000036744&cadevice=c&gclid=CM23t67hxLoCFasRMwodRGQAzg )

This cooks an awesome turkey and frees up your oven for other things.





Would you mind posting your other menu thoughts?




I read a blog once about cooking a Thanksgiving meal. The author cooked her turkey the day before Thanksgiving and refrigerated it overnight. When it was time to serve, she arranged it on the platter and served it with her hot gravy. Nobody even knew the turkey was cold.

LOL! You know, that's a great idea! After letting the turkey rest for 20 minutes and the time it takes to carve the turkey (we don't do the pretty roasted turkey at the table presentation) the meat isn't all that hot to begin with. I do hope she warmed it a bit, though.




Others posted while I was typing
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: peaches on November 01, 2013, 07:32:08 PM
I think it sounds like a good idea!If you make a trial turkey, you can get the timing and basting down pat, and you could freeze the sliced turkey so you'd have plenty for the holiday when it comes. That could mean you wouldn't have to get a ginormous turkey for Thanksgiving (in my experience the huge ones take forever to cook and are harder to estimate the timing for; medium size turkeys taste better and don't take all day to cook).

When I do Thanksgiving (which thankfully isn't every year!) I prepare as much ahead of time as possible. You can make ahead:

*mashed sweet potatoes - freeze beautifully
*dressing - can be made a day ahead and baked on Thanksgiving. I've also done crockpot dressing and it was moist and yummy.
*gravy - make and freeze. Use turkey wings to make it. Or use a good canned or jarred gravy and add some drippings at the last minute and/or the jiblets that you've simmered in broth ahead of time.
*cranberry sauce - fresh cranberry sauce can be made ahead and frozen. Or make Paula Deen's quicky cranberry sauce (canned whole cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges and chopped pecans)
*mashed potatoes - can be made a day or two ahead and reheated in the oven or a crockpot
*pecan pie keeps well for a day or two in the refrigerator or can even be frozen
*pumpkin cheesecake can be made a day or two ahead or frozen; all cheesecakes freeze well IMO
*a trifle is also pretty for holidays and can be made ahead. My SIL makes a pumpkin trifle.
*rolls can be baked while the roast turkey is "resting". All meat needs to rest before carving (to keep the juices in); turkey can rest for up to a half hour, covered loosely with foil.
*I make a green vegetable that can be cooked on the stovetop (not oven) such as fresh green beans (easy to dress up with sliced almonds or cashews) or green peas with pearl onions or sautéed Brussels sprouts. I usually cook this at the last minute, but it could be made earlier in the day and reheated.

I also often delegate part of the meal, such as rolls, dessert or a vegetable.

We never have appetizers for Thanksgiving. It just spoils people's appetite, and there is so much food to eat at the meal, who needs an appetizer?

Good luck!!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 01, 2013, 07:43:56 PM
I think it sounds like a good idea!If you make a trial turkey, you can get the timing and basting down pat, and you could freeze the sliced turkey so you'd have plenty for the holiday when it comes. That could mean you wouldn't have to get a ginormous turkey for Thanksgiving (in my experience the huge ones take forever to cook and are harder to estimate the timing for; medium size turkeys taste better and don't take all day to cook).

That's a great point!!


Thanks for the make-ahead list. I have a big oven, so especially if I use your strategy and don't get a huge turkey, I can fit some veggies in there pretty easily, actually.

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sweetonsno on November 01, 2013, 10:32:01 PM
I think I'm going to get to host the family holiday again this year. Last year I undercooked the turkey and didn't make gravy.

Big mistake!

I've been thinking that maybe I should try both again before the big day.

But how silly is that? Should I just try to make gravy, or find a make-ahead gravy so I have it as backup?

Or would roasting a small chicken help me at all? It seems like it wouldn't.

I've never worried about roasts before--my experience with them is that there's not that much technique to it, except for not overcooking it. They've always come out fine.

But the turkey was weirder--and I had more conflicting advice, and chose the wrong one. Plus I didn't know how much it weighed bcs the butcher didn't tell me and I didn't realize until I was home and had no way to measure it.


And, any general tips for how to handle the big meal, multiple stuff, etc., would be welcome. I've already realized that I need to prep all the plates, platters, linens, etc., at least 2 days before so it's not in the way.

And of course, some foods can be done a day or more ahead.

Timing is everything. Here's my timeline:

Monday: Go shopping. Get everything you think you need. If you're making your own breadcrumbs/bread cubes for the dressing, make them today so they have time to dry out. If you've bought fresh herbs, take them out of their little plastic boxes and put them into a glass of water. Put a baggie over it loosely and pop it in the fridge. If your bird is frozen, put it in the fridge. Make sure it's on something because it will probably drip.

Tuesday: Realize you forgot something. Curse. Go shopping and get it. Prepare the dishes that you'll serve cold (cranberry sauce, Jello mold). Clean up. Woo hoo! You're pretty much done! Double check on your quantities of vegetables, seasonings, and wine.  Make the desserts if you are making your own.

Wednesday: Pour yourself a mimosa. It's going to be a long day.

1. Make the dressing/stuffing up until the point where you would stuff the bird or put it into the oven. Just put it into a casserole dish and toss it in the refrigerator. It'll be fine. You can actually do this with most of the casserole-type dishes, I'd guess.

2. Calculate how long you'll need to cook the bird so you know when to put it into the oven. Add at least half an hour to allow for dressing it and resting it. Remember that if you stuff the bird, it'll take longer to cook.

3. Set up your mise en place for tomorrow. You can blanch some of the veggies. Save the carrot water if you're making your own gravy. (If you're having candied carrots, you can peel them, cut them up, and cook them until they are about two minutes short of done. Then, just make the butter-sugar mixture and add the carrots. Finish cooking them then.)

4. Make the relish trays. If you cover them with damp paper towel and then wrap them in plastic, they'll be fine. Cheese and crackers can wait until tomorrow.

5. Set the table. Make sure the relevant beverages are in the refrigerator.

Thursday: Rally the troops and get going.

1. Dress the turkey and put it in the oven at the appropriate time. The meat thermometer is a great idea. Stick it into the thickest part of the bird's thigh.

2. If you want to make your own gravy, toss the giblets (except the liver) and parson's nose into a saucepan of water with a slice of onion, a few peppercorns, a stalk of celery. Let it simmer on a back burner while you do everything else. Keep the heat low and don't let it boil dry.

3. About half an hour before you want to eat, put the casseroles in the oven.

4. Make somebody peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks, then put them into a pot of cold salted water. You can set it aside until you're ready to make the potatoes. Alternatively, save yourself some trouble and just do baked potatoes. They can go in the microwave if you get really pressed for time.

5. Take the turkey out of the oven, put it on the serving platter, then make the gravy. I bring all of the pan juices to a boil, then whisk in a mixture of flour and cold water (about 1:2 ratio). It will thicken. You may need to add more depending on how much you got from the pan juices. No worries. Turn the heat down to medium low. Then, thin using the broth you made from the giblets. (Taste it and strain it first.) I'd use a mix of that and the water that the carrots/potatoes were boiled in. When it gets to be the consistency you want, check the seasonings. If it seems lackluster, add a small blob of Marmite.

6. Five minute warning while you bring all of the casseroles out to the table/sideboard.

Boom. You're done.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: kareng57 on November 01, 2013, 10:57:56 PM
I do agree with backup gravy.  Not long ago I noticed that I still had an old can of poultry gravy.  Gravy has always been my nemesis, however, during the last few years I discovered Veloutine.  (I have no idea whether or not this is available in the US).  It's a very-easy-to-use thickener/darkener, but I can understand a first-timer being unwilling to try it.

For the bird itself - so much is dependent on the particular bird, size etc.  It's probably best to overestimate the cooking time - you can keep a cooked-bird moist for a couple of hours while you finish the vegetables, potatoes etc.

ETA:  re gravy - I've never tried this myself, but apparently many restaurants that serve Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners will happily sell you a couple of cups of gravy at nominal cost.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: cross_patch on November 01, 2013, 11:45:27 PM
I third or fourth the idea of a checklist- I found one on the internet for Christmas dinner (I want to say it was on Martha Stewart? If in doubt, I always go to Martha, but it could possibly have been a women's weekly one).  Anyway, it was timed really well and since then I've used it as a framework for all big dinners, and it's been invaluable. I think it's one of those things that just gets easier the more times you do it! I wouldn't bother with a chicken- roasting a chicken's pretty easy, and wouldn't really help you with the finer points of roasting a turkey but  as long as you have the weight and a meat thermometer you should be fine. And definitely have packet gravy on hand as a back up!  We've made gluten free gravy with arrowroot flour before rather than plain, and it was fine. I just use chicken stock to make it a bit tastier.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Zizi-K on November 02, 2013, 12:10:28 AM
Toots, do you own a scale (to weigh a person)? You can weigh a turkey or anything else by weighing yourself and then weighing yourself holding the turkey. Simple subtraction and voila.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: blarg314 on November 02, 2013, 12:36:32 AM

A practice is not a bad idea - cook the same size turkey you plan to serve at the dinner. Freeze the cooked meat for later in the year.

I find the tricky thing for a Thanksgiving dinner is getting everything done at the same time, so a detailed checklist (with times) is useful.

I do as much in advance as possible. The cranberry sauce can be made a couple of days in advance. Pies, baked squash, and baked sweet potatoes (for mashed sweet potatoes) can be done the day before. Whipped cream from a can saves an extra step. I cut up the bread for stuffing the day before (I find it works better if it's slightly stale).

The day of the dinner, getting the turkey stuffed and in the oven is the first step. Then I wash down the kitchen from any turkey juice splatter,  prep my veggies (cutting up green beans, etc), make the salad and salad dressing and set the table. The turkey neck and gibblets go in a pot with some water to make extra stock for the gravy. The potatoes and other vegetables go in to cook according to my calculations.

For gravy - a good backup is to have some rich stock available. If you do a practice turkey, save the bones, and make stock. Reduce some of it so it's extra strong, and keep it on hand. If you have problems with pan gravy, take the stock and thicken on the stove with flour and water - it's pretty close to instant to make, and way better than gravy from a mix or jar. If you make it too thick - add a bit more stock, too thin, a bit more flour and water. For regular gravy, I mix the giblet/neck stock (strained) with the pan juices to get more volume.

If you happen to have a rice cooker, it works great for keeping mashed potatoes warm - just leave it on the warm setting.


Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: cicero on November 02, 2013, 01:22:12 AM

Cornstarch works well for gravies but it needs to be added at the very end of gravy mixing (just before serving) otherwise it will quickly over-cook and loose it's thickening power. You'll end up with thin gravy . . . which isn't bad if you like a brothy-type gravy, but then never mind adding the cornstarch in the first place



Thank you! I didn't' know this. I made orange chicken yesterday and used a slightly different recipe and noticed exactly what you say - the gravy was beautiful and thick and then it thinned out and became watery...
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 02, 2013, 01:32:02 AM

Cornstarch works well for gravies but it needs to be added at the very end of gravy mixing (just before serving) otherwise it will quickly over-cook and loose it's thickening power. You'll end up with thin gravy . . . which isn't bad if you like a brothy-type gravy, but then never mind adding the cornstarch in the first place

Thank you! I didn't know this. I made orange chicken yesterday and used a slightly different recipe and noticed exactly what you say - the gravy was beautiful and thick and then it thinned out and became watery...

I second those thanks! Because flour is out.

Hopefully someone else will be able to use all that great advice that has the word "flour" in it.

If you get thinned-out gravy, can you thicken it again w/ a fresh cornstarch slurry? Or is it thin for good?

And I'm thinking about make-ahead--will cornstarch not really work for that? In that case, I guess I could combine all the stuff, and just add the cornstarch after I've heated it. Would that work?
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: cross_patch on November 02, 2013, 05:49:41 AM

Cornstarch works well for gravies but it needs to be added at the very end of gravy mixing (just before serving) otherwise it will quickly over-cook and loose it's thickening power. You'll end up with thin gravy . . . which isn't bad if you like a brothy-type gravy, but then never mind adding the cornstarch in the first place

Thank you! I didn't know this. I made orange chicken yesterday and used a slightly different recipe and noticed exactly what you say - the gravy was beautiful and thick and then it thinned out and became watery...

I second those thanks! Because flour is out.

Hopefully someone else will be able to use all that great advice that has the word "flour" in it.

If you get thinned-out gravy, can you thicken it again w/ a fresh cornstarch slurry? Or is it thin for good?

And I'm thinking about make-ahead--will cornstarch not really work for that? In that case, I guess I could combine all the stuff, and just add the cornstarch after I've heated it. Would that work?

Isn't that why everyone has been suggesting using cornstarch and/or gluten free alternatives? I haven't seen anyone suggest you use normal flour.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: YummyMummy66 on November 02, 2013, 06:03:18 AM
I have never bought a fresh turkey from the butcher.  We always just get a frozen turkey and all works out well.

We buy it about a week before Tday, keep it in the fridge and the bring out the night before Tday to sit in the sink and thaw.  (I know, I know, alot of people say they would never do this, but I have been doing for about twenty years and my family before me and the turkety has never made anyone sick).

My husband cooks the turkey.  We go by the directions on the turkey package as to how many pounds it is and how long to cook per pound.  He puts it into a roasting pan.  Usually, even with a fresh turkey, I think it is about twenty minutes per pound.  He puts some water in the pan, rubs the turkey with olive oil and adds some salt and pepper to the turkey.  And that is basically it.   He will baste it every so often, but that is it.  He covers the pan with aluminum foil because our lid won't fit with the turkey and towards the end, removes the foil, so the skin browns nice and even.  Easy peasy and we always get raves on our turkey.  He said the trick is not to over cook the turkey.  I think he sets the oven at 350.

I do most of everything else and I make as much as possible the night or the weekend before.  Potato filling, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green bean casserole, corn pudding, (or in our area of Berks County, PA, Kopes corn in a can) and maybe another vegetable.   I made fresh cranberry sauce once, nope.  My family likes it from the can.  Buy rolls and heat them. 

I don't usually make pies, we buy them from Sam's club, (super yummy), but I found this pumpkin cake dessert I think I will make this year.  It is yummy.   

Gravy.  Heck, never make fresh gravy.  I suggest you buy it in a jar or can.   Easy peasy.  If your family does not like it, they can make the gravy. 

Since there is so much for dinner, we really don't do salad or appetizers. 

Just read your post about gluten free gravy, sorry.  Did not know this.  About just buying it in a jar or can.   You could practice with a small turkey to get the gravy for your big meal and then add that gravy to your big meal.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Venus193 on November 02, 2013, 07:06:40 AM
I think a practice run is a great idea and I also vote for saving the bones to make stock from.

I third/fourth/fifth (whatever it is now) the motion about back-up gravy.  My recommendation is to get two or three different brands of turkey gravy, even mixing a powder, a jar, and a can.  Don't forget to pick up a bottle of Gravy Master in case you like your gravy darker.  Add a bay leaf or two.

My mother made excellent meat gravies and her secret was to be sure to have plenty of well-browned onion for flavor and colour; always have a carrot to cut any bitterness.  The carrot gets discarded later.

Don't remember seeing this, but don't forget the poultry seasoning blend.  Bell's is salt-free now.

If you don't have a dietary or religious objection to it, bacon across the top of the turkey is a wonderful thing prior to browning the skin.  Drape across after the first baste-and-season.

Cranberry sauce can be made with Splenda and the sweetness adjusted; nobody needs those extra calories.

A checklist with cooking times will be your best friend.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Rohanna on November 02, 2013, 07:52:47 AM
If your concerned about under-cooking the turkey make sure you check it in several places for temperature- and particularly make sure you are checking somewhere meaty and not near bone. I always check the thick round end away from the legs- the breast tends to cook first for me.

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Venus193 on November 02, 2013, 08:58:33 AM
I didn't mention this before, but hot gravy doesn't heat up cold meat.  I have two friends who learned this lesson the hard way.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Rohanna on November 02, 2013, 10:16:00 AM
Also, if you aren't used to cookign turkey I wouldn't serve previously frozen meat, as if you don't cook and freeze it just right it can be very *very* dry.

I have never had this recipe fail on me, by the way, and every time I've served it to anyone it's gotten absolute RAVE reviews :)

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dragonflymom on November 02, 2013, 11:00:25 AM
As far as your general question on trial runs for cooking for holiday dinners, I am a big fan!  It helps you know how long things will take in *your* particular oven, or with *your* particular burners, which I've found out the hard way can vary widely, sometimes over by half an hour, from the recipe.  :)

You can also find out if something in the recipe is off.  I made some middle eastern scallop recipe once that called for one tablespoon of fenugreek per pound of scallops.  It was unbelievably vile and bitter, I'm convinced it was a typo and should have been a teaspoon.  Of course I just had to make this the first time for a dinner with a dozen people...  So much for impressing my friends with my amazing cooking skills :)

Murphys law of cooking says that if things will go wrong when making something new, they won't go wrong for the dinner when it is just me and my husband who will eat whatever.  They will go wrong for the big dinner when I have the whole family over.  *LOL*
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Deetee on November 02, 2013, 11:14:04 AM
This Thanksgiving (two weeks ago as I'm Canadian) we hosted. However, my husband and I were both running a half marathon in the morning, so we knew that we wanted to do as little as possible that afternoon.

So while usually I just spend all day cooking and quite enjoy it, this time we prepped before hand.

Day before

-Made gravy (used turkey stock/drippings from Easter) I have started making the gravy before the turkey and I love that idea. Otherwise gravy is a last minute thing and it never seems to thicken on a time crunch.

-Made cranberry sauce

-Chopped all veggies

-made stuffing

-double checked that I had serving dishes/serving spoons

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 02, 2013, 11:50:16 AM


My mother made excellent meat gravies and her secret was to be sure to have plenty of well-browned onion for flavor and colour; always have a carrot to cut any bitterness.  The carrot gets discarded later.
{/quote]

Oooh, nice trick! Thanks

Quote
Don't remember seeing this, but don't forget the poultry seasoning blend.  Bell's is salt-free now.
I'm a fan of Bell's, and per the label, no flour filler.

Quote
If you don't have a dietary or religious objection to it, bacon across the top of the turkey is a wonderful thing prior to browning the skin.  Drape across after the first baste-and-season.


I'm already been sent a link to this by the cousin who used to host (and decided not to since the older folks won't travel all the way up to her--1.5 hours in the car is too much for them).


Also, if you aren't used to cooking turkey I wouldn't serve previously frozen meat, as if you don't cook and freeze it just right it can be very *very* dry.

Hmmmmmm. Something to think about, then--I was sort of enamoured of the "make two slighlty smaller birds" idea, since I'd also like to put a ham in the oven as well.

Thanks for all the recommendations of turkey recipes!

Quote
I have never had this recipe fail on me, by the way, and every time I've served it to anyone it's gotten absolute RAVE reviews :)

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jpcher on November 02, 2013, 05:15:41 PM
And I'm thinking about make-ahead--will cornstarch not really work for that? In that case, I guess I could combine all the stuff, and just add the cornstarch after I've heated it. Would that work?

Yes.

I do like Amara's recipe for pre-prepared gravy, but if you're using cornstarch do everything in the recipe except for the flour part and then when you heat it up for service, add your cornstarch slurry once the broth is simmering, mix well, then turn off the heat and serve.

 ;)

If you get thinned-out gravy, can you thicken it again w/ a fresh cornstarch slurry? Or is it thin for good?

I really don't know. I bet it would be worth a try, though, because cornstarch doesn't add any flavor (unlike that "f" stuff.)



Personally, I prefer making my gravies with a roux. It's not as tricky as cornstarch and more fool-proof.

Here's a gluten-free recipe using rice flour:

http://glutenfreegirl.com/2006/11/it-is-absurdly-easy-to-make-gluten-free-gravy/

The trick with a roux is adding the liquid slowly and stirring/whisking* well between each addition so that the gravy stays smooth. When you first add the liquid, it will look lumpy, but have faith and keep stirring!

This type of gravy can easily be made several days in advanced and then simply heated before service.

Prepare your broth of choice (strain any chunky bits, like the onion) with whatever seasonings you like and make sure to add the pan drippings into the warming gravy once the turkey is done for that extra oomph of flavor.



*I use a spoon at first because the thicker roux tends to clump up in a whisk.

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Lorelei_Evil on November 02, 2013, 05:32:48 PM
It's a fabulous idea.  Every time I add a new dish to a holiday menu I test it out a couple of times before inflicting it on the unsuspecting.

Yes, you can make up the cornstarch mixture ahead of time and add it to the gravy base after heating.  I do it all the time.  POD to jpcher. 

We used to cook at home, but transport most of the meal to another location, so we would always finish the gravy at the destination house.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Klein Bottle on November 02, 2013, 05:50:54 PM
I think it's fine to do a practice run.  You can do so much with turkey, so it definitely won't go to waste.

As for the gravy, nothing wrong with having an easy back-up.  I always get a couple jars of the turkey gravy to supplement my home made, because I never seem to make enough, no matter how much I make, and when it comes down to leftovers, my son is decidedly not picky about whether it's my own or gravy from a jar.    :P
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 02, 2013, 06:43:34 PM
I cook my turkey breast down for the first 3-4 hours then flip it over for the last hour to dry out and brown.  I also stuff my turkey loosely with aromatics and vegetables to add flavor to the drippings.  I have a special pair of oven gloves just for this.

Like jpcher, I use a roux. the darker the roux, the less thickening power it has.  So a blond roux will thicken the gravy quickly, where a black or brown roux won't thicken as much.  My family doesn't like jarred or canned gravy, we stretch the drippings with chicken stock
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 02, 2013, 07:10:49 PM
I cook my turkey breast down for the first 3-4 hours then flip it over for the last hour to dry out and brown.  I also stuff my turkey loosely with aromatics and vegetables to add flavor to the drippings. I have a special pair of oven gloves just for this.


I was thinking, "That's crazy! How would you even do that--flipping the bird while it's hot!"

Then I saw the bolded. Phew!

Though, my hat is still off you to--because it's still hot and heavy and slippery. Even with gloves.

I was reading that Alton Brown recipe w/ the brining, and wondering if I could even fit a 5-gallon bucket in my fridge.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: magician5 on November 02, 2013, 08:01:41 PM
Get a meat thermometer, and buy some "backup" gravy to un-jar if needed.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 02, 2013, 09:11:21 PM
I cook my turkey breast down for the first 3-4 hours then flip it over for the last hour to dry out and brown.  I also stuff my turkey loosely with aromatics and vegetables to add flavor to the drippings. I have a special pair of oven gloves just for this.


I was thinking, "That's crazy! How would you even do that--flipping the bird while it's hot!"

Then I saw the bolded. Phew!

Though, my hat is still off you to--because it's still hot and heavy and slippery. Even with gloves.

I was reading that Alton Brown recipe w/ the brining, and wondering if I could even fit a 5-gallon bucket in my fridge.
I cook it until the thigh meat is around 155 or so

Take the pan and put it on a flat surface with a towel underneath.  The surface should be ~waist height.  You don't want to try to do this above boob level
With your dominant hand grasp the open cavity and angle it upward. 
With your other hand grab the turkey between the legs *stop snickering* .
Lift the turkey completely up off the pan.  Rotate AWAY from you quickly and set the turkey back down with the breast up.  make sure to keep the cavity angled slightly upward, hot onions and turkey juice on your inner arm is not fun.  I usually take off most of the juice at this point as well and add the chicken stock to it
Place back in oven uncovered and cook until thigh meat is ~160.  Turn the temp up 25 degrees and cook until temp hits 165
I personally like to shove about a 1/2# or so of butter under the skin before I put it back in the oven, but your arteries may not agree

For brining, no need to put it in your fridge if you have outside space or a garage.  We brined 2 years ago and used huge cooler we kept full of ice.  That was a pain in the patootie, so no more brining until we can figure out a way to secure our outdoor space.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Rohanna on November 02, 2013, 10:42:16 PM
I brine mine inside a big cooler I bought on clearance :)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: peaches on November 02, 2013, 11:10:39 PM
Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) has a recipe for roast turkey that's simple, straightforward and delicious.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/perfect-roast-turkey-recipe4/index.html#!

If the turkey breast gets very brown, you can put a piece of foil over the breast (not the whole turkey, you don't want to steam it).

Another hint: if you have a dining room, you can set the table way ahead of time. I do that a day or two ahead. If you're worried about dust, you can turn the glasses over and/or throw another tablecloth over the whole table. 

My menu would look like this:

Turkey
Dressing
Gravy
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Green beans or other green vegetable (Ina Garten's Spinach Gratin is wonderful, if you have the oven room!)
Rolls
Cranberry sauce
Dessert

I like the color variation in this menu. And it's balanced.

I serve one dessert if the group is small, two different desserts if the group is larger. (Dessert is something that's easy to delegate if someone offers to help.)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 02, 2013, 11:25:41 PM

For brining, no need to put it in your fridge if you have outside space or a garage.  We brined 2 years ago and used huge cooler we kept full of ice.  That was a pain in the patootie, so no more brining until we can figure out a way to secure our outdoor space.

Unfortunately, I don't have an outdoor space. Well, not one that's only mine. But the big cooler is an interesting idea.

I keep adding side dishes to the list as I go along. "Brussels sprouts, shredded or whole? Oh, and gotta have green beans. Roast potatoes, of course, and probably some sort of sweet potatoes too. Probably need some fresh crunchy vegetables. Corn--canned corn is easy, and if you put a lot of butter on it, people like it. Salad--DH says we probably should have a salad. Oooh, this roasted cauliflower recipe would be good."

See what I mean? I'm going to have to stop myself at some point.

I learned my lesson about the dining room table--we tried to set it up the day-of and that was a total disaster. So we'll set it the day before, and iron napkins, tablecloths, etc., a week before.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: cicero on November 03, 2013, 01:12:32 AM


Another hint: if you have a dining room, you can set the table way ahead of time. I do that a day or two ahead. If you're worried about dust, you can turn the glasses over and/or throw another tablecloth over the whole table. 


I get one of those clear plastic table covers and throw it over the whole thing - gives the table a whole Mrs. havisham's dinner look. >:D

at the same time, i get out my servings bowls/platters/utensils, rinse them if needed, and stack them on the breakfront or counter so that they are there.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 03, 2013, 12:23:13 PM
just went to check and we have a 150qt cooler we got from walmart.  We kept it on the front porch at night to keep it cool and brought it in during the day.  It was so heavy and there were no wheels to help with the process.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: bopper on November 04, 2013, 01:20:58 PM
If this is one of your first Thanksgivings, I would not do anything too fancy with the turkey.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: lowspark on November 04, 2013, 01:42:56 PM
I know many people dismiss these because they claim it steams the turkey instead of roasting it, but I always use Reynolds Turkey size Oven Bags. I've never had a bad turkey out of one of those. They come out moist with plenty of drippings for gravy. The guide lines on how long to cook according to the weight of the turkey are spot on. And the skin is always beautifully browned.

I only tried one time to roast a turkey in the oven without the bag and it didn't come out well, plus there was hardly any drippings. I think they evaporated?

Went back to using the bags and haven't looked back. It's the easiest way I know of and the results are almost guaranteed.

As far as doing it the day before, I see no reason not to. The weekend before, even. I cook a large brisket for Passover every year and always cook it in advance. I refrigerate (or freeze) it and then just throw it into the oven on low for a bit before dinner. I know it's a brisket, not a turkey, but I see no reason this wouldn't work. I do it with leftover turkey all the time as well.

Regarding the shredded brussels sprouts, my advice is to keep everything as simple as possible, especially the more sides you have. Believe me, no one is going to say, Ugh, she didn't shred the sprouts! Go the easy route on all these recipes because it's already complicated due to the number of dishes you're serving.

Good luck!!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: thunderroad on November 04, 2013, 03:48:11 PM
Following cicero's advice, I went looking for "countdown to..." links. And found a recipe for "Deconstructed Turkey"--basically, buying turkey parts and roasting them in their own pans. (typed this while AvidReader was typing, apparently!)

That's sort of interesting--it would mean you could have more turkey legs, and you could cook the breast differently from the thighs, etc.

My problem last year was I didn't get the oven hot enough. I was following some weird recipe. (the "too many sources of advice" problem)

Alice, I forget sometimes about lists--or about starting them this early. Thanks for that reminder.

Not sure I can used canned gravy, since it needs to be gluten free--that exists, but I'm not sure I can find it easily. (I'm willing to have some things be stuff I can't eat, but not gravy.)

I like AvidReader's tip about gravy; I've found a few make-ahead gravy recipes and thought about doing that.

And the crockpot sounds good for moist stuffing!

Because we love love love the stuffing cooked inside the bird ["that's why they call it stuffing!" is our battle cry], I don't deconstruct the bird, but I do cut the thighs and legs away from the body, leaving them attached at the hip joint but kind of splayed out.   It allows more heat to get into the thigh area, so the thigh cooks faster, and helps eliminate the problem of drying out the breast if you cook the bird long enough to make sure that the thigh is done.

I use an instant-read thermometer, and check the temp at various locations--thigh, breast, etc.  I won't cook over 165, because of the retained heat. 

One year we needed to make a quick trip to a relative's before the turkey was done--we were having just a very informal dinner at home--and I pulled the bird out of the over at about 145, wrapped it tightly in aluminum foil, and left it out thinking it would need more cooking when we returned.  Well, I managed to wrap it tightly enough that the retained heat cooked the entire turkey sufficiently without drying it out, and it was absolutely the best turkey I have ever made.  I have not really been able to replicate that, however.

Oh, and I don't brine--I rub under the skin with a salt, pepper, and herb mixture, and loads lots of butter under the skin, too, before roasting.  Makes a lovely moist bird. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 04, 2013, 04:07:14 PM
I've done a turkey breast with the butter under the skin--maybe I'll try that. Because I don't know how on earth I'd keep a brining turkey cold in my apartment.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 04, 2013, 05:29:02 PM
I've done a turkey breast with the butter under the skin--maybe I'll try that. Because I don't know how on earth I'd keep a brining turkey cold in my apartment.

Remember "More butter is more better" :D
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 04, 2013, 05:45:35 PM
LOL!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 04, 2013, 06:30:01 PM
I've done a turkey breast with the butter under the skin--maybe I'll try that. Because I don't know how on earth I'd keep a brining turkey cold in my apartment.

Get a massive size ziplock bag... they have them called brining bags now.  Feel an ice chest with ice on the bottom. Put the bag with the brine and turkey in the ice chest and add more ice. I use a 50 Qrt Igloo MaxCold that keeps ice cold for 5 days. Or if you have a fridge with a large bottom vegetable drawer, most turkeys and the brine in one of these bags will fit in there. Then you use the ice chest to hold all your vegetables that no longer fit in your fridge. I follow a crazy recipe mashup between Alton Brown, Epicurious, and America's Test Kitchen... so I start brining on Tuesday, take out on Wed mid day, dry it really well and then put in the fridge to dry out the skin so I can get a crispy skin. The non-crispy skin is what most people complain about.

There's also lots of recipes out there for "dry brine" so takes less room. I haven't tried it but have read lots of articles that some like them better than a wet brine. But my family would shoot me if I changed the turkey up. I'm allowed to modify any thing except the turkey, the dressing, and the sweet potatoes.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 04, 2013, 07:03:16 PM
I brine my turkey two nights before the big day. I use a sugar and salt brine. I brine the turkey overnight in a big cooler with ice packs. I pull the turkey out the next day and rinse it, pat it dry with paper towels and put it on a baking rack over a sheet pan then put it all in the fridge to air dry. It yields a very crisp skin. I roast it back up for 45 minutes, on one side 15 minutes, the other 15 minutes, then breast up for 30-45 minutes. It is the Americas Test Kitchen Roast Crisped-Skin Turkey recipe, and you throw aromatics into the cavity and the pan for the gravy. I have made this turkey at least twice a year for a decade. Never turns out badly.

For GF gravy, I would start early in the morning with a rice flour and butter roux, adding chicken broth until you get the volume you need. Let it simmer until the bird is done, and add any juices from the pan.

I hope it works out well for you!

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 05, 2013, 02:54:13 PM
Thanks for all the brining tips, etc.!

And for the good wishes.

I think I'm going to need to practice gravy next week.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 05, 2013, 03:12:39 PM
Here's a link to a recipe for making gravy ahead of time. I tried this last year because I needed to make a gluten free gravy. I was concerned that not having a roux made with flour would really decrease the richness. I made the stock using this method of pre-roasting wings and then creating a stock. I then used cornstarch to thicken it. I also added a splash of sherry prior to adding the corn starch thickner. It was great and I got a ton of compliments.

I made it again last January and couldn't find turkey wings but found frozen turkey tails and I used them. Those worked really well too for creating a flavorfull broth.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/turkey-gravy-recipe/index.html (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/turkey-gravy-recipe/index.html)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 05, 2013, 04:14:07 PM
ooh, yay, thanks so much!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: POF on November 05, 2013, 04:18:27 PM
Thanks for all the brining tips, etc.!

And for the good wishes.

I think I'm going to need to practice gravy next week.

Toots - I think the most sensible thing to do is to recreate your entire menu next week and invite a bunch of us over to critique.  I am in Boston and will take the train down :)

bwahahahahahaha

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 05, 2013, 04:29:15 PM
Thanks for all the brining tips, etc.!

And for the good wishes.

I think I'm going to need to practice gravy next week.

Toots - I think the most sensible thing to do is to recreate your entire menu next week and invite a bunch of us over to critique.  I am in Boston and will take the train down :)

bwahahahahahaha

Snork!

I think I'll also practice the Bisquick gluten-free biscuits, and see if they freeze well as dough.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 05, 2013, 04:39:28 PM
Thanks for all the brining tips, etc.!

And for the good wishes.

I think I'm going to need to practice gravy next week.

Toots - I think the most sensible thing to do is to recreate your entire menu next week and invite a bunch of us over to critique.  I am in Boston and will take the train down :)

bwahahahahahaha



I'm in Baltimore and can take the train up.  We should get there at the same time ;)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 05, 2013, 06:03:39 PM
I will have a practice gravy session as we have a pot luck at work. I am making Halal turkey gravy for the first time!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: peaches on November 05, 2013, 10:11:28 PM
Toots, I picked up the latest issue of Good Housekeeping in the grocery tonight, and it has a Thanksgiving menu by Ina Garten. She has this easy make-ahead gravy recipe, which I plan to try this year.

The article says you can make this 4 days ahead and keep in the refrigerator.


Homemade Gravy
Ina Garten, Good Housekeeping Nov 2013

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
2 cups chicken broth or stock, heated
1 Tablespoon Cognac or brandy
1 Tablespoon cream (optional)

Turkey drippings ( optional)

In a 12 inch skillet, cook butter and onion on med.-low heat 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Whisk in flour, then 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook 2 minutes, stirring. Add broth and Cognac; cook, uncovered, 4 to 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Stir in cream, if using. Gravy can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days. Reheat on med.-low, adding pan drippings from turkey, if desired.


My notes:
*If adding turkey drippings to gravy, use defatted drippings. Pour drippings from the roasting pan into a bowl or measuring cup and let sit a few minutes, till fat rises to the top. Skim off as much fat as possible, using a spoon. Then add, a little at a time, to gravy until gravy is the consistency you want. 

*When using Ina’s recipes, I always add half the salt called for; then I taste, and add more if needed. (Also, she uses Kosher salt. If  using table salt, use less.)


 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 05, 2013, 10:45:23 PM
I was going to post the Alton Brown turkey brining recipe, because it is seriously the most amazing turkey I've ever had. I never actually liked turkey growing up, but I seriously love the brined turkeys we've made since we discovered the Alton Brown recipe. The best thing about it is that a brined turkey seems to be a little more foolproof than one that isn't, in that it's a little bit harder to overcook it (or at least, overcook it to the point where it doesn't taste good).

I've cooked a turkey breast plus drumstick or two in the past, largely because my husband and I have spent Thanksgiving with just the two of us for the past 6 years. After discovering the brined turkey recipe, I decided to just go ahead and find the smallest whole turkey we could and try cooking that. It's darned near impossible to use aromatics with a deconstructed turkey.

So the turkeys we've made the past couple of years have been maybe 12 pounds or so, but we haven't had any trouble brining them in a bag and sticking them in our (rather small) refrigerator. It does mean we have to be highly strategic about our fridge space, but it is possible to brine a turkey successfully in a bag.

One other thing I've done that you could test out, if you wanted, is make gravy with cornstarch and then refrigerate it. It was usually because I cooked it to the thickness I wanted and then had leftovers, so I stuck it in the fridge. Cornstarch-thickened gravy that has been refrigerated doesn't get less thick, although it can take on a bit more of a glutinous appearance. On the other hand, it stays thick when heated and looks more like normal gravy once it's hot.

I finally did master the art of the roux somewhat recently, though, so I've been using that to thicken sauce more often than cornstarch. One thing that's nice about roux is that (at least in theory, since I've never personally tried this) you can make a bunch in advance and stick it in the fridge. I think you're supposed to heat it up a little before you add any liquid to it, but it's one way to take some of the guesswork out of thickening your gravy. For a gluten-free roux, this was the first website that came up in Google when I did a search for that term: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/01/gluten-free-tuesday-roux-rice-flour.html

Anyway, I agree with everyone else that a practice run is probably a great idea, as long as you like Turkey. Cooking a lot of dishes for a lot of people is complicated anyway, but I'm guessing there's an added layer of performance that makes it harder for you to do all of that, above and beyond just having people in the house.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 05, 2013, 11:01:30 PM
You're right about the performance and distractions factors! That's why the trial run occurred to me.

And that's great to know, that you could fit it into the fridge. Ours isn't huge, but it isn't small either, particularly. And if it has to sit for 12 hours out of the brine, then there's hope.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 06, 2013, 12:07:08 AM
The smallness of my fridge is forever surprising me (and it's poorly designed, too, so we can't usually make the most of what space we do have). The turkeys we've brined took up a significant chunk of the bottom shelf of the fridge, but not all of it. The idea of putting the turkey in a crisper drawer is actually a good one, and you'd probably be able to put a lot of the vegetables you normally keep in there in other parts of the fridge (or just in a cooler, as was suggested, since most vegetables don't strictly need to be refrigerated).

But truly, brined and roasted poultry is kind of an amazing thing. We've done it with chickens, too, and they're just as good as the turkey we make. That's something else you could try (more easily than a turkey) if you wanted to get a feel for brining before committing to do it for a whole turkey. You could either cut down the Alton Brown brine recipe, or find another recipe meant for chicken.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 06, 2013, 04:16:01 AM
I have never bought a fresh turkey from the butcher.  We always just get a frozen turkey and all works out well.

We buy it about a week before Tday, keep it in the fridge and the bring out the night before Tday to sit in the sink and thaw.  (I know, I know, alot of people say they would never do this, but I have been doing for about twenty years and my family before me and the turkety has never made anyone sick).

My husband cooks the turkey.  We go by the directions on the turkey package as to how many pounds it is and how long to cook per pound.  He puts it into a roasting pan.  Usually, even with a fresh turkey, I think it is about twenty minutes per pound.  He puts some water in the pan, rubs the turkey with olive oil and adds some salt and pepper to the turkey.  And that is basically it.   He will baste it every so often, but that is it.  He covers the pan with aluminum foil because our lid won't fit with the turkey and towards the end, removes the foil, so the skin browns nice and even.  Easy peasy and we always get raves on our turkey.  He said the trick is not to over cook the turkey.  I think he sets the oven at 350.

I do most of everything else and I make as much as possible the night or the weekend before.  Potato filling, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green bean casserole, corn pudding, (or in our area of Berks County, PA, Kopes corn in a can) and maybe another vegetable.   I made fresh cranberry sauce once, nope.  My family likes it from the can.  Buy rolls and heat them. 

I don't usually make pies, we buy them from Sam's club, (super yummy), but I found this pumpkin cake dessert I think I will make this year.  It is yummy.   

Gravy.  Heck, never make fresh gravy.  I suggest you buy it in a jar or can.   Easy peasy.  If your family does not like it, they can make the gravy. 

Since there is so much for dinner, we really don't do salad or appetizers. 

Just read your post about gluten free gravy, sorry.  Did not know this.  About just buying it in a jar or can.   You could practice with a small turkey to get the gravy for your big meal and then add that gravy to your big meal.

I thaw my turkey the same way except I fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes before I go to bed thr night before.   I also run cold water thru the inside of the turkey when preparing it to ensure it is completely thawed.

I also just buy Butter ball frozen.  I got a fresh turkey once and it wasn't as good as a butter ball.  Weight is definitely an important detail to know.   Cook it at 325.  There are videos and pictures online exactly where to position the temp probe.   

For a no fail gravy, go to food.com amd search for kittencal's easy gravy.  I have never had luck with gravy til I followed her step by step directions.   I think I gave you the link in your thread last year , Toots.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 06, 2013, 04:21:42 AM
I cook my turkey breast down for the first 3-4 hours then flip it over for the last hour to dry out and brown.  I also stuff my turkey loosely with aromatics and vegetables to add flavor to the drippings. I have a special pair of oven gloves just for this.


I was thinking, "That's crazy! How would you even do that--flipping the bird while it's hot!"

Then I saw the bolded. Phew!

Though, my hat is still off you to--because it's still hot and heavy and slippery. Even with gloves.

I was reading that Alton Brown recipe w/ the brining, and wondering if I could even fit a 5-gallon bucket in my fridge.

Since you're in NY, would your garage be cold enough?  I'm in MN so my garage acts as a 2nd fridge and my car hood storage for all the prepped plates.  I can do that in MN but not when we lived in AZ.  This past Canadian T giving was too warm and I had to rely on my fridge downstairs which got quite tight bc I do almost everything ahead, except the turkey.   
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 06, 2013, 04:29:43 AM

For brining, no need to put it in your fridge if you have outside space or a garage.  We brined 2 years ago and used huge cooler we kept full of ice.  That was a pain in the patootie, so no more brining until we can figure out a way to secure our outdoor space.


Unfortunately, I don't have an
 space. Well, not one that's only mine. But the big http://www.food.com/recipe/french-green-beans-in-cream-488815 is an interesting idea.

I keep adding side dishes to the list as I go along. "Brussels sprouts, shredded or whole? Oh, and gotta have green beans. Roast potatoes, of course, and probably some sort of sweet potatoes too. Probably need some fresh crunchy vegetables. Corn--canned corn is easy, and if you put a lot of butter on it, people like it. Salad--DH says we probably should have a salad. Oooh, this roasted cauliflower recipe would be good."

See what I mean? I'm going to have to stop myself at some point.

I learned my lesson about the dining room table--we tried to set it up the day-of and that was a total disaster. So we'll set it the day before, and iron napkins, tablecloths, etc., a week before.

I found a great recipe for garlic cream cream green beans from Good Housekeeping UK.  It is absolutely delicious and a nice departure if you don't care for the tradition green bean casserole.    Ugh for some reason I cannot post the link from my phone.  It keeps jumping up to another part of your post for some reason.   See just after your statement about not having outdoor space.  That is where the link to to the recipe is.  Can't figure out why it keeping hopping to that location. 



Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 06, 2013, 04:34:27 AM
http://www.food.com/recipe/french-green-beans-in-cream-488815
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 06, 2013, 04:38:16 AM
I know many people dismiss these because they claim it steams the turkey instead of roasting it, but I always use Reynolds Turkey size Oven Bags. I've never had a bad turkey out of one of those. They come out moist with plenty of drippings for gravy. The guide lines on how long to cook according to the weight of the turkey are spot on. And the skin is always beautifully browned.

I only tried one time to roast a turkey in the oven without the bag and it didn't come out well, plus there was hardly any drippings. I think they evaporated?

Went back to using the bags and haven't looked back. It's the easiest way I know of and the results are almost guaranteed.

As far as doing it the day before, I see no reason not to. The weekend before, even. I cook a large brisket for Passover every year and always cook it in advance. I refrigerate (or freeze) it and then just throw it into the oven on low for a bit before dinner. I know it's a brisket, not a turkey, but I see no reason this wouldn't work. I do it with leftover turkey all the time as well.

Regarding the shredded brussels sprouts, my advice is to keep everything as simple as possible, especially the more sides you have. Believe me, no one is going to say, Ugh, she didn't shred the sprouts! Go the easy route on all these recipes because it's already complicated due to the number of dishes you're serving.

Good luck!!

To prevent dripping evaporation, add chicken stock to the pan.  When the turkey goes in the oven there should be some fluid in the pan as well.  I pour it over the turkey to help baste it. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 06, 2013, 08:17:07 AM
I'm pretty sure toots lives in the city in an apartment.  But I could be wrong
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: lowspark on November 06, 2013, 08:40:06 AM
I know many people dismiss these because they claim it steams the turkey instead of roasting it, but I always use Reynolds Turkey size Oven Bags. I've never had a bad turkey out of one of those. They come out moist with plenty of drippings for gravy. The guide lines on how long to cook according to the weight of the turkey are spot on. And the skin is always beautifully browned.

I only tried one time to roast a turkey in the oven without the bag and it didn't come out well, plus there was hardly any drippings. I think they evaporated?

Went back to using the bags and haven't looked back. It's the easiest way I know of and the results are almost guaranteed.

As far as doing it the day before, I see no reason not to. The weekend before, even. I cook a large brisket for Passover every year and always cook it in advance. I refrigerate (or freeze) it and then just throw it into the oven on low for a bit before dinner. I know it's a brisket, not a turkey, but I see no reason this wouldn't work. I do it with leftover turkey all the time as well.

Regarding the shredded brussels sprouts, my advice is to keep everything as simple as possible, especially the more sides you have. Believe me, no one is going to say, Ugh, she didn't shred the sprouts! Go the easy route on all these recipes because it's already complicated due to the number of dishes you're serving.

Good luck!!

To prevent dripping evaporation, add chicken stock to the pan.  When the turkey goes in the oven there should be some fluid in the pan as well.  I pour it over the turkey to help baste it.

Thanks, good to know. I'll probably never drift away from using those cooking bags though. In my experience, they are foolproof.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: laceandbits on November 06, 2013, 08:40:29 AM
Add at least an hour onto the turkey cooking time, but don't assume you'll need it.  Once the bird is cooked (thermometer if you have one, I don't but a skewer poked into the thick bit inside the thigh, and juices run clear is reliable, and I've never had an under done turkey), take it out of the oven, cover it (in the pan) with poil if it's not already, then with several layers of towels.  It will stay hot until you need it.  The only thing that is spoilt is that the skin goes soggy.  As we shouldn't really eat that anyway as that's where the fat is in poultry, you may not mind but if you want it to eat, as you carve strip off some of the skin and pop it back in the oven for just a few minutes and it will crisp up a treat.

I do this waiting period for half an hour or so anyway as it allows the meat to settle, and the moisture to equalise, and makes carving much easier.  But if you are caught out and it's not quite cooked you have a useful back up of time.

Granny was in the catering trade in the 1930s when every penny counted and by doing this to all her meat, could cut it wafer thin so the customers thought they had loads but didn't.  This is one of her tips but I've read it in other places too.

For the rest of the meal, prepare as much as you can the day before and practise cooking timings.  Make sure you have big enough pans to cook the bigger quantities or everything will boil over or go off the boil.  Some veggies like carrots are quite happy to be reheated and potatoes can be par- boiled the day before ready to roast on the day.  But green veggies need to be cooked right at the last minute.  Gravy you could also make well before the day and just reheat when needed.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: laceandbits on November 06, 2013, 08:49:53 AM
Of course I meant cover with *foil* not poil. 

And to the other poster who said that without bags her turkey had no juice, for something that needs to cook for as long as a turkey it does need covering in some way, but foil is easier to find, and to use and has other kitchen uses as well, but will stop the juices from evaporating just as well as a bag.  But it does mean that you can just lift the foil off to turn the bird halfway through, or baste if you want to, or even just to test for doneness. 

I usually cut a piece of foil plenty large enough, put it loosely over the bird and turn it under the rim of the pan, then gently push a little dip all around inside the rim so the foil moat is just below the pan rim. Takes only a minute or two but it means the moisture inside the foil tent drips back into the pan and can't escape over the edge.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 06, 2013, 12:44:53 PM
Alton Brown's video shows the "duh!" trick of shaping the foil before you start roasting, while everything is cold.

thanks for the green beans recipe!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 07, 2013, 10:09:45 AM
I know many people dismiss these because they claim it steams the turkey instead of roasting it, but I always use Reynolds Turkey size Oven Bags. I've never had a bad turkey out of one of those. They come out moist with plenty of drippings for gravy. The guide lines on how long to cook according to the weight of the turkey are spot on. And the skin is always beautifully browned.

I only tried one time to roast a turkey in the oven without the bag and it didn't come out well, plus there was hardly any drippings. I think they evaporated?

Went back to using the bags and haven't looked back. It's the easiest way I know of and the results are almost guaranteed.

As far as doing it the day before, I see no reason not to. The weekend before, even. I cook a large brisket for Passover every year and always cook it in advance. I refrigerate (or freeze) it and then just throw it into the oven on low for a bit before dinner. I know it's a brisket, not a turkey, but I see no reason this wouldn't work. I do it with leftover turkey all the time as well.

Regarding the shredded brussels sprouts, my advice is to keep everything as simple as possible, especially the more sides you have. Believe me, no one is going to say, Ugh, she didn't shred the sprouts! Go the easy route on all these recipes because it's already complicated due to the number of dishes you're serving.

Good luck!!

To prevent dripping evaporation, add chicken stock to the pan.  When the turkey goes in the oven there should be some fluid in the pan as well.  I pour it over the turkey to help baste it.

Thanks, good to know. I'll probably never drift away from using those cooking bags though. In my experience, they are foolproof.


I heard they were much like using a roaster.. that they don't brown.  Glad to hear they do in those bags.  Although, I really enjoy basting with the juices from the turkey and stock I add throughout hte cooking process.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 07, 2013, 10:10:01 AM
I'm pretty sure toots lives in the city in an apartment.  But I could be wrong


You're right.  Completely forgot about that. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 07, 2013, 10:12:41 AM
Of course I meant cover with *foil* not poil. 

And to the other poster who said that without bags her turkey had no juice, for something that needs to cook for as long as a turkey it does need covering in some way, but foil is easier to find, and to use and has other kitchen uses as well, but will stop the juices from evaporating just as well as a bag.  But it does mean that you can just lift the foil off to turn the bird halfway through, or baste if you want to, or even just to test for doneness. 

I usually cut a piece of foil plenty large enough, put it loosely over the bird and turn it under the rim of the pan, then gently push a little dip all around inside the rim so the foil moat is just below the pan rim. Takes only a minute or two but it means the moisture inside the foil tent drips back into the pan and can't escape over the edge.


I agree about the foil... the foil also prevents the skin from burning and the breasts from drying out too much.  Since the breasts are first to cook and they are white meat, they are also first to get dry.  That is why I baste so much and cover with foil.  It only takes my bird an hour or so to get brown on the top of the skin.


The skin is my FAVE part.  Not great for us, but for a holiday, I'm going to imbibe.  lol
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: lowspark on November 07, 2013, 10:15:09 AM
Yeah, I've read that too, that they don't brown. But they do. At least, all the turkeys I've cooked in those bags over the past ~30 years have.

I think that there's a lot of good ways to cook a turkey, as opposed to only one good way. I've never tried brining, or high heat or low heat or basting or or or.... etc. I'm sure they are all good methods though.

I have done the bag, plain ol' roasting in the oven with no bag, and grilling with indirect heat. Of those three, I liked the bag the best because it comes out moist, it browns and it produces a ton of drippings.

Grilling with indirect heat is my second favorite -- the bird comes out delicious. But alas, no drippings.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 07, 2013, 10:33:24 AM
I'm pretty sure toots lives in the city in an apartment.  But I could be wrong


You're right.  Completely forgot about that.

Yep, no garage or backyard. *some* basement area, perhaps, but not sure about that. And steam heat, so the ambient temperature around the cooler won't be as cold as it might be for other people.

But all those tips about garage, flour, etc., may be useful for someone else!
And they could inspire me to think a little bit about how I could incorporate the *spirit* of the suggestion--like, I don't have a garage; but maybe I could use a cooler in the stall shower for a day or two, leaving that bathroom's window open to keep the room cool  and just make everybody shower in the other bathroom....
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 07, 2013, 11:02:44 AM
Yeah, I've read that too, that they don't brown. But they do. At least, all the turkeys I've cooked in those bags over the past ~30 years have.

I think that there's a lot of good ways to cook a turkey, as opposed to only one good way. I've never tried brining, or high heat or low heat or basting or or or.... etc. I'm sure they are all good methods though.

I have done the bag, plain ol' roasting in the oven with no bag, and grilling with indirect heat. Of those three, I liked the bag the best because it comes out moist, it browns and it produces a ton of drippings.

Grilling with indirect heat is my second favorite -- the bird comes out delicious. But alas, no drippings.


Yes, what works for one, may not for another.   Once I find something that works for me, I stick with that.


At TG last month, I did my regular turkey in the oven and then as an experiment, a 12 pounder in our newish smoker.  Everyone much preferred the smoked turkey, so much so, that my friend who came for my Cdn TG asked me to bring a smoked turkey to her TG this month.   I anticipated it not turning out well since it was my first time, but it turned out a million times better than I ever expected.  I just wish my smoker was bigger so I could do my main turkey in it every year. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 07, 2013, 11:04:25 AM
I'm pretty sure toots lives in the city in an apartment.  But I could be wrong


You're right.  Completely forgot about that.

Yep, no garage or backyard. *some* basement area, perhaps, but not sure about that. And steam heat, so the ambient temperature around the cooler won't be as cold as it might be for other people.

But all those tips about garage, flour, etc., may be useful for someone else!
And they could inspire me to think a little bit about how I could incorporate the *spirit* of the suggestion--like, I don't have a garage; but maybe I could use a cooler in the stall shower for a day or two, leaving that bathroom's window open to keep the room cool  and just make everybody shower in the other bathroom....


Best of luck!  I'm sure it will turn out great no matter what you decide to do.

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: peaches on November 07, 2013, 11:26:37 AM
Yeah, I've read that too, that they don't brown. But they do. At least, all the turkeys I've cooked in those bags over the past ~30 years have.

I think that there's a lot of good ways to cook a turkey, as opposed to only one good way. I've never tried brining, or high heat or low heat or basting or or or.... etc. I'm sure they are all good methods though.

I have done the bag, plain ol' roasting in the oven with no bag, and grilling with indirect heat. Of those three, I liked the bag the best because it comes out moist, it browns and it produces a ton of drippings.

Grilling with indirect heat is my second favorite -- the bird comes out delicious. But alas, no drippings.

My MIL has always used an oven bag for turkey. And her turkeys do brown. They also are delicious!

As I recall, the oven bag shaves some time off of the cooking, also.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 07, 2013, 03:00:01 PM
I'm pretty sure toots lives in the city in an apartment.  But I could be wrong


You're right.  Completely forgot about that.

Yep, no garage or backyard. *some* basement area, perhaps, but not sure about that. And steam heat, so the ambient temperature around the cooler won't be as cold as it might be for other people.

But all those tips about garage, flour, etc., may be useful for someone else!
And they could inspire me to think a little bit about how I could incorporate the *spirit* of the suggestion--like, I don't have a garage; but maybe I could use a cooler in the stall shower for a day or two, leaving that bathroom's window open to keep the room cool  and just make everybody shower in the other bathroom....

You can brine overnight in the shower.  It's the drying out part that will take some time.  Wet skin means that your turkey won't brown..or will brown less than usual. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 07, 2013, 03:10:26 PM
I can fit the turkey into the fridge pretty easily--it was all the extra room you need for the brining solution that would crowd me too much.

and now I feel like I'm back where I started--too many options to consider for how to cook the turkey, which is what got me to pick the wrong one last time.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: POF on November 07, 2013, 05:02:25 PM
Ahhh Toots ! you are over thinking this ! I can tell from your posts that you are a bit fo a perfectionist ( and yes I am too so I see the signs )

1) I never brine my turkey -  Ican't imagine it would be a good thing for me to be attempting that ! (I KNOW I would make a  huge mess )

2) I use a butterball turkey which I think is already enhanced - so no need to brine.

3 )I stuff the cavity with onions, lemons, apple celery salt and pepper.  I butter up the outside, salt ands pepper and stick it in a preheated oven.

4) I let the turkey sit out for a bit to take the fridge chill out.

5 )Use a good roaster pan - not a foil pan ! Use a rack

6 )I cook at the temps on the packaging.  When the skin looks like its brown.   I stick a piece on top.  Note - every year I try to slide the foil in the oven - every year I get a really good burn to show off a dinner. You may want to try to avoid that :)

7) I take its temp and when it is done based on what I read on the web - I take out and let rest.  I carve in the kitchen and once or twice had the thigh undercooked. This is why I have a microwave ! No one knew.

8 )I buy some emergency gravy from the deli.  Its in the refrigerated section.   I use that if I mess up the gravy I make.  How about the time I wanted to sieve it so I could get out a few lumps ... yeah that works ONLY if you put a bowl in the sink.  I sieved my gravy DOWN the DRAIN !

9) Remember the thread - its about the memories and the company and the good times ..... the food will be great !

10) What time should I be there for the  practice session ! LOL



Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 07, 2013, 06:08:49 PM
I can fit the turkey into the fridge pretty easily--it was all the extra room you need for the brining solution that would crowd me too much.

and now I feel like I'm back where I started--too many options to consider for how to cook the turkey, which is what got me to pick the wrong one last time.

Tuesday night: Brine in a bucket. 
Wednesday morning: remove the turkey from the brine and put in fridge to dry out. Throw the brine solution away. 
Thursday: cook your turkey
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 07, 2013, 06:10:58 PM
Quote
7) I take its temp and when it is done based on what I read on the web - I take out and let rest.  I carve in the kitchen and once or twice had the thigh undercooked. This is why I have a microwave ! No one knew.


This is a good idea!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: DragonKitty on November 07, 2013, 06:17:09 PM

Tuesday night: Brine in a bucket. 
Wednesday morning: remove the turkey from the brine and put in fridge to dry out. Throw the brine solution away. 
Thursday: cook your turkey

This one sounds good.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 07, 2013, 09:21:23 PM
I totally swear by brining poultry, but if that sounds like more than you want to get into for this Thanksgiving, I suggest you skip it and cook the turkey in a way you're more familiar with. Do a practice run so you can get your timing down and practice your gravy-making, and then you'll be all set for T-Day.

One thing I will suggest, though, is finding a recipe for brining a whole chicken and trying that out sometime. It's way less commitment, way less space, and will give you an idea if you like the end product or not. If you do, you can try out a brined turkey the next time you make one, and if you don't, you've only had to eat a roast chicken. I'm guessing that your family of four would probably eat most (if not all) of a roast chicken in a single meal.

But seriously, I don't cover, baste, flip, or otherwise touch the bird when I roast a chicken or turkey I've brined. And it always comes out so fantastically juicy that our main topic of conversation while we eat it is how amazing and delicious it is. I get some drippings (although I don't know if it's a lot or a little, since I have no frame of reference), but I often make gravy by doing nothing more complicated than thickening no-salt-added vegetable or chicken stock.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 07, 2013, 09:24:25 PM
I think doing a trial run w/ a chicken is probably a good idea.

(the one thing about "cook the turkey in a way you're more familiar with" is that I've really only cooked a turkey twice before--last year, when I didn't have the oven hot enough, and decades ago)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 07, 2013, 09:27:53 PM
Well, cook the turkey in a way that at least doesn't make you think, "Wow, that's complicated" the first time you read through the recipe. :)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 07, 2013, 10:04:35 PM
Well, cook the turkey in a way that at least doesn't make you think, "Wow, that's complicated" the first time you read through the recipe. :)

LOL!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 07, 2013, 10:14:40 PM
Do you have a probe thermometer?  If not, I would say that's the single most important item when roasting a whole bird.  When roasting I think it's super important to get out of the way of the process and just let the bird cook.  After I put my bird in to cook I open the door twice.  Once to add foil to protect the breast (chicken)/ rotate (turkey) and again to take the bird out.  That's it.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 07, 2013, 10:40:43 PM
I just bought one--it arrived today.


I'm worried about opening the oven door. Bcs the plan when I bought my oven years ago was to get one big enough to put several dishes in at once.

I guess I could add the other dishes when I rotate the bird.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 07, 2013, 10:48:12 PM
I just bought one--it arrived today.


I'm worried about opening the oven door. Bcs the plan when I bought my oven years ago was to get one big enough to put several dishes in at once.

I guess I could add the other dishes when I rotate the bird.

Word of advice.  Don't interfere with the cooking of turkey.   If you have done everything ahead and it needs reheating, take out of fridge in plenty of time so they aren't too cold.  They can sit outside the fridge for a couple hours so they don't take too long to reheat. Once the bird is out, then put all the sides in the oven.   Cover bird tightly with heavy duty foil to let it rest at least 30 to 45 mins.  It will stay hot if you cover enough.   If you add the sides while the turkey is cooking, you will add more time to everything.  The bird will take longer and the sides will too.  Carve after it sits and don't peek while it rests.  The time it takes to carve and rest should be plenty for your sides if you place them properly in the oven. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 07, 2013, 10:57:22 PM
I just bought one--it arrived today.


I'm worried about opening the oven door. Bcs the plan when I bought my oven years ago was to get one big enough to put several dishes in at once.

I guess I could add the other dishes when I rotate the bird.

Word of advice.  Don't interfere with the cooking of turkey.   If you have done everything ahead and it needs reheating, take out of fridge in plenty of time so they aren't too cold.  They can sit outside the fridge for a couple hours so they don't take too long to reheat. Once the bird is out, then put all the sides in the oven.   Cover bird tightly with heavy duty foil to let it rest at least 30 to 45 mins.  It will stay hot if you cover enough.   If you add the sides while the turkey is cooking, you will add more time to everything.  The bird will take longer and the sides will too.  Carve after it sits and don't peek while it rests.  The time it takes to carve and rest should be plenty for your sides if you place them properly in the oven. 


This is wise advice.  What sides were you going to have?


Also, I cook my turkey breast down, so I have to rotate it.  However that is advanced turkey cookery and I don't recommend trying it until you've master the technique on a chicken first*.  You can, however, deploy the foil covering of the breast maneuver approximately 30 min into cooking

*I will not be responsible for the tale of the time the turkey bounced out of the window.  Or the tale of pouring hot turkey juice down your arm and onto your leg


Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Lorelei_Evil on November 08, 2013, 07:04:39 AM
I think doing a trial run w/ a chicken is probably a good idea.

(the one thing about "cook the turkey in a way you're more familiar with" is that I've really only cooked a turkey twice before--last year, when I didn't have the oven hot enough, and decades ago)

We solved this problem with a countertop roaster oven.  I love the thing.  Turkey cooks perfectly and you have the oven free for other things.  So if you mistime things a little you can keep food hot in a 200 degree oven until you're ready to serve.  They're about $40.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Amara on November 08, 2013, 12:18:54 PM
Quote
*I will not be responsible for the tale of the time the turkey bounced out of the window.  Or the tale of pouring hot turkey juice down your arm and onto your leg.

Okay, you are not responsible. But you must tell us both stories.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: cabbagegirl28 on November 08, 2013, 04:59:35 PM
Quote
*I will not be responsible for the tale of the time the turkey bounced out of the window.  Or the tale of pouring hot turkey juice down your arm and onto your leg.

Okay, you are not responsible. But you must tell us both stories.

Seconded.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 08, 2013, 08:25:21 PM
So--I finally heard back from the other cousin of my generation with whom there had been some negotiation about who would host. I hadn't heard from her, so we went ahead with the plans (the first cousin had already bowed out).

And she said she couldn't host, bcs she'd be using her mom's kitchen, since she still lives at home, and it would stress her mom out too much.

Then she said, "We get a turkey from my boss every year; I'm volunteering to cook that and bring it--it would take one job off your hands. Let me know if you'd like that."

I told DH, and he said, "What's the point of hosting Thanksgiving if you don't cook the turkey?"

So I told her I was already planning, and had purchased tools, and was determined to master it this year. Then I struggled with how to say, "if you wanted to donate the turkey, I'd be happy to cook it." I essentially said "I've been planning to buy a turkey. If you wanted to offer yours, I would take you up on it, but I don't need one."

Then later, I decided to suggest that she consider cooking it for Christmas, and bringing it to DH's mom's house (where we celebrate). My MIL has stated that she can't cook as much as she used to--she's getting old.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Venus193 on November 08, 2013, 08:55:43 PM
Great idea.

Many years ago I used to get turkeys at Thanksgiving.  The thing was they were never large enough for the family gathering so... that was how I learned how to prepare a turkey.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: kareng57 on November 08, 2013, 09:48:11 PM
I just bought one--it arrived today.


I'm worried about opening the oven door. Bcs the plan when I bought my oven years ago was to get one big enough to put several dishes in at once.

I guess I could add the other dishes when I rotate the bird.

Word of advice.  Don't interfere with the cooking of turkey.   If you have done everything ahead and it needs reheating, take out of fridge in plenty of time so they aren't too cold.  They can sit outside the fridge for a couple hours so they don't take too long to reheat. Once the bird is out, then put all the sides in the oven.   Cover bird tightly with heavy duty foil to let it rest at least 30 to 45 mins.  It will stay hot if you cover enough.   If you add the sides while the turkey is cooking, you will add more time to everything.  The bird will take longer and the sides will too.  Carve after it sits and don't peek while it rests.  The time it takes to carve and rest should be plenty for your sides if you place them properly in the oven. 


This is wise advice.  What sides were you going to have?


Also, I cook my turkey breast down, so I have to rotate it.  However that is advanced turkey cookery and I don't recommend trying it until you've master the technique on a chicken first*.  You can, however, deploy the foil covering of the breast maneuver approximately 30 min into cooking

*I will not be responsible for the tale of the time the turkey bounced out of the window.  Or the tale of pouring hot turkey juice down your arm and onto your leg



I too agree - the turkey has to rest for awhile before you start carving it, and that's about the same time as it takes to cook the side dishes.  Again, I'm a big fan of make-aheads such as mashed-potatoes, vegetable casseroles etc.  I always found the turkey to be the easiest; the beat-the-clock side dishes were always the most difficult.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 08, 2013, 10:43:44 PM
I do the same, Karen.  I don't see how people are able to throw together all the side dishes while the turkey is cooking.  I make all the sides the day before.  Makes Turkey day so much easier.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 08, 2013, 10:48:59 PM
I do the same, Karen.  I don't see how people are able to throw together all the side dishes while the turkey is cooking.  I make all the sides the day before.  Makes Turkey day so much easier.

I do it out of necessity, but try to keep them relatively simple. My fridge simply isn't big enough to prep as much as I want to in advance, not until I get the turkey out of it for cooking. I can't store the turkey anywhere else, either, since I live in a small apartment and don't have room for something like a cooler that would only ever be used for Thanksgiving turkey storage.

It does help that the Alton Brown brined turkey recipe I use calls for putting the turkey in the oven and then basically not touching it until it's done, though. That gives a good couple of hours where I can do other things and not have to actively focus on the turkey.

It also helps a ton that my husband and I pretty evenly split the cooking duties in our house (and if anything, he does more of it). I'm more familiar with some of the dishes we eat at Thanksgiving, but having us both working on all the dishes means they go faster.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: blarg314 on November 08, 2013, 11:26:38 PM

One thing to remember for turkey, too - you should always let the turkey rest for at least 10 minutes after removing it from the oven, but before carving it. After you take roasts off the heat (or steak, for that matter), the juices get reabsorbed into the meat and the temperature rises by several degrees. If you cut them immediately, the juices can run out, and the meat gets dry.

I saw the Alton brown turkey episode - it might be a lovely recipe, but I was aghast at a turkey method that produced neither stuffing nor gravy, because as far as I'm concerned the main purpose of a turkey is to produce stuffing, gravy and turkey stock (plus some nice crispy skin). That's why I don't brine - it means you can't use the pan juices for gravy, or stuff the turkey, without it getting too salty.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 08, 2013, 11:37:23 PM
The time the turkey bounced out of the window.


I went to culinary school in chicago.  For my first Thanksgiving there, I decided not to go home, since I had just been home for a funeral in October and was planning on going back for Xmas.  I had roommates, but they all went home for the holiday's leaving me alone in the apartment.  So I invited all of the other orphaned culinary students over to help celebrate Thanksgiving.  Now, my apartment was actually a duplex that was split vertically down the middle.  We lived in the front apartment.  Our kitchen had a door to the back stairway and outside and had a window that overlooked the fire escape.  Said window was above the counter that held the oven.  It got hot, so we often had the window and screen open to help vent the kitchen


Now one thing you have to understand is that in culinary school, you take classes in order.  So first you start with knife skills, then you move to soups and sauces, salads, and then you graduate to poultry, fish, and meat classes.  Since I had just started school, I had not yet taken a fish and poultry class, so my colleague Josh volunteered to cook the turkey as he had passed that class and moved on to the next level.


I invited everyone over for brunch and to spend the day watching the football game and/or play games.  Our kitchen was actually pretty large because we were in a duplex.  Most people showed up around between 11 and noon.  By about 1pm there were 3 of us in the kitchen preparing side dishes, bread, etc.  We were also using this time to work on our skills and compare techniques.  Josh showed up around 2 or 3 and immediately asked us all to vacate the kitchen so he could get the turkey and stuffing in the oven.  One of the other guys was in the middle of making the stuffing with his mom's recipe and spoke up.  Josh basically told him that his stuffing wasn't welcome and probably wouldn't taste very good either.  We were all a bit taken a back and probably should have invited him to leave, but we were stupid college students with no spines.  Eventually we found space for Josh at the island where he proceeded to contaminate the entire surface with turkey juice. Efforts to get him to clean up were met with a sneer.


So finally the turkey goes in the oven breast down.  This was the first time I'd seen this, but I didn't feel like dealing with Josh's attitude so I didn't ask why he was cooking it like that.  After he put the turkey in the oven, he sat down with a beer and refused to help with anything else.  He did however, have opinions about everything and everyone, and was not shy about airing said opinions at the top of his lungs.  About 2 hours into the roasting, the timer goes off.  So Josh jumps up and informs us that he's about to rotate the turkey. Having never seen a turkey cooked this way, all of us were in and around the kitchen watching. 


Unfortunately the window sill wasn't high enough and the turkey hit it and flipped out the window.  Silence reigned for about 5 seconds and then everyone dropped to the floor laughing.  Poor Josh was moaning about his arm, the turkey was out on the fire escape landing and we couldn't stop laughing.  Eventually someone went outside and rescued the poor turkey.  It was cool by then so we washed off the dirt as much as possible and put it back in the oven.  It probably took another 2 hours to cook but it was the funniest thing ever.  So now "Save the turkey!!!" is an inside joke for those of us who were there.  Josh sulked for the rest of the night and left instead of staying the night like everyone else. 


And that is the story of the time the turkey bounced out of the window


Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Venus193 on November 09, 2013, 07:43:19 AM
Karma got him, that's for sure.

A friend of mine had no family occasion one Thanksgiving so she invited me for the Black Friday (Neither of us shops on that day).  She bought the 11-lb turkey on the previous Monday.

She left it in the freezer until Thursday at midnight.

I spent the better part of three hours running cold water over the turkey, inside and out, so it could go into the oven at 3PM.  She also had no sense of time about preparing side dishes to be ready at the same time, so I had to manage that as well.  It was a challenge for me because she had an electric stove, which I am not accustomed to.

Somehow the food ended up tasting good, but this experience is why I usually prefer to have the kitchen to myself.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 09, 2013, 07:47:00 AM
Quote

That's why I don't brine - it means you can't use the pan juices for gravy, or stuff the turkey, without it getting too salty.


Is this true?
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 09, 2013, 07:50:17 AM
Re: the thawing of the turkey:


It is only in the last 2 years that I have started to see advice that says, "It can take DAYS for your turkey to thaw in the refrigerator." One of the times I made turkey, everything I found said "move it to the fridge the night before."
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 09, 2013, 09:56:23 AM
Quote

That's why I don't brine - it means you can't use the pan juices for gravy, or stuff the turkey, without it getting too salty.


Is this true?

I haven't found this to be the case.  When we brined the year before last the turkey drippings were perfectly fine. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on November 09, 2013, 09:58:32 AM
We did what the experts say you should never do.  We let it thaw on the counter, in a basin to catch the juices, if the plastic is damaged.  But keep in mind that the ambient temperature is closer to 60 F so it is still cool.  We'd never gotten food poisoning in over 35 years of doing it this way.

Now, most of the time, we are going up to my brother's place but my Dad usually brings the turkey.  We take it up in a cooler with no ice packs and then the night before, we leave the lid of the cooler open.  It is usually just a little bit frozen that we have trouble getting the neck out but then it cooks up fine, with the stuffing inside.  I hate when we have to run water through it because that just spreads the bacteria all over if it splashes outside the sink.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Doll Fiend on November 09, 2013, 10:22:03 AM
Alton Brown actually does several turkey episodes.
Romancing the Bird S1E14 Brined Turkey
Behind the Bird S3E14 Brined Turkey Leftovers
Fry Turkey Fry S10E12 Fried Turkey Safety
Twas the Night Before Good Eats S13E21 Duck but similar technique (And sides)
Alton's Countdown to T-Day (Re-romancing the bird) S14E24 Not only a third Turkey style that is not brined but talks about timing the turkey and sides/desserts.

I hope this helps. I just had to share since I am such a huge AB Fan and wanted to help as well. :D
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 09, 2013, 12:14:06 PM

One thing to remember for turkey, too - you should always let the turkey rest for at least 10 minutes after removing it from the oven, but before carving it. After you take roasts off the heat (or steak, for that matter), the juices get reabsorbed into the meat and the temperature rises by several degrees. If you cut them immediately, the juices can run out, and the meat gets dry.

I saw the Alton brown turkey episode - it might be a lovely recipe, but I was aghast at a turkey method that produced neither stuffing nor gravy, because as far as I'm concerned the main purpose of a turkey is to produce stuffing, gravy and turkey stock (plus some nice crispy skin). That's why I don't brine - it means you can't use the pan juices for gravy, or stuff the turkey, without it getting too salty.

I don't know if this is personal preference, but 10 minutes to stand a turkey isn't enough, especially a larger turkey.  They need at the very least 30 minutes.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 09, 2013, 12:37:11 PM
Quote
That's why I don't brine - it means you can't use the pan juices for gravy, or stuff the turkey, without it getting too salty.

Is this true?

I haven't found this to be the case.  When we brined the year before last the turkey drippings were perfectly fine.

I haven't either, although I never put stuffing in the turkey itself. The biggest reason is because I prefer my stuffing crisped up in the oven, so I make it on the stove and then put it in a casserole to get browned in the oven.

Aside from that, I don't want to have to worry about giving myself food poisoning because I didn't get the stuffing to the right temperature, or overcooking the turkey in an attempt to avoid food poisoning. And I'd rather put aromatics in the turkey.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 09, 2013, 03:15:00 PM
Alton Brown actually does several turkey episodes.
Romancing the Bird S1E14 Brined Turkey
Behind the Bird S3E14 Brined Turkey Leftovers
Fry Turkey Fry S10E12 Fried Turkey Safety
Twas the Night Before Good Eats S13E21 Duck but similar technique (And sides)
Alton's Countdown to T-Day (Re-romancing the bird) S14E24 Not only a third Turkey style that is not brined but talks about timing the turkey and sides/desserts.

I hope this helps. I just had to share since I am such a huge AB Fan and wanted to help as well. :D

Thanks!

I had never really focused on him until this thread, and he's fun!


I'm loving the "30 minutes of standing" thing--I'm not a fan of reheating vegetables; I feel like potatoes get dried out and other stuff gets overcooked.


I do have a convection microwave, but I don't want to put  the turkey in there--it's over the stove!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Venus193 on November 09, 2013, 05:30:01 PM
In my experience, if the turkey is standing more than 10 minutes it's cold by the time it's carved.  I hate eating anything cold that is meant to be eaten hot.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 09, 2013, 06:10:32 PM
There are a lot of dishes you can do ahead that reheat very well. Google Elsie's mashed potatoes best of bridge.   They are meant to do ahead.  You can even freeze them and they turn out well.  People will rave about your mashed. 

Plain veggies you don't have to do ahead.  Steam on microwave.  If you are doing more involved side dishes there are many you can do ahead and reheat and ppl will never be the wiser. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 09, 2013, 06:17:55 PM
There's a shredded brussels sprouts recipe that's done on the stovetop--that would probably work. If I had a pressure cooker, I could make riced potatoes!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: POF on November 09, 2013, 08:50:54 PM
I always do my Brussels on the stove.   Just bought a big stalk atthe farm store today.

I slice mine in 1/2, sometimes into thirds and this can be done the day before. 

I fry up a bit of bacon, drain off al but 2 TBSP of drippings.  I saute them in the drippings and add a pinch of sugar, salt / pepper and about 2 TBSP of H20.  I like to cook mine until a bit brown on the bottom, flip and cook quickly on the other side. 

I also make a nice green bean / waxed bean dish for XMAS - Again I start with bacon ( yes - I did have a problem with salty cured meats ) .  I boil / blanch green beans and wax bean until crispy. = I then add them to the bacon drippings with some sliced in half cherry tomatoes. I add a sprinkle of brown sugar, a shake or two of hot pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.  I then tops with some toasted bread crumbs right before serving ( and the crumbled bacon.

 I blanch the beans the day before, I cook the bacon, crumble and save the drippings.  I put some PANKO on a dry non stick skillet and toast up brown. I ven slice up the tomatoes.

I'll throw the bacon drippings on the stove ( in a pan ! ) , add the beans and tomatoes and let them heat up, mix in the bacon and add crumbs.  it takes 5 minutes on XMAS day.   Its a nice alternative to green bean casserole.

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 09, 2013, 08:58:02 PM
In my experience, if the turkey is standing more than 10 minutes it's cold by the time it's carved.  I hate eating anything cold that is meant to be eaten hot.
You must have a cool home. I find that if we cover with foil but leave in the roasting pan it stays really warm for a good 30 minutes. But we don't wasn't to carve a steaming bird. I remember my dad saying that any steam coming out when carving is moisture leaving your bird.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 10, 2013, 06:07:13 PM
In my experience, if the turkey is standing more than 10 minutes it's cold by the time it's carved.  I hate eating anything cold that is meant to be eaten hot.
You must have a cool home. I find that if we cover with foil but leave in the roasting pan it stays really warm for a good 30 minutes. But we don't wasn't to carve a steaming bird. I remember my dad saying that any steam coming out when carving is moisture leaving your bird.


Very true.  Covering tightly with foil works like a charm.  Also agree about moisture leaving the bird. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 10, 2013, 06:17:51 PM
Well, I practiced with a chicken.

And ended up undercooking, then overcooking, it. I packed the cavity too tightly w/ the aromatic veggies, and the juice that ran out of the cavity was pink when the 165-degree thermometer went off.

So I cooked it longer.

The gravy was sort of bland--but on thinking about it, I didn't really salt or pepper, no bay leaf, no wine for deglazing, etc.

So I'm going to tackle it again next week. And meanwhile, we have chicken for omelettes/rice/etc., and I can use the bones to make my own stock. (My aunt suggested using canned stock as the water when I do so, in order to end up w/ a more concentrated stock.)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: kckgirl on November 11, 2013, 09:14:59 AM
Re: the thawing of the turkey:

It is only in the last 2 years that I have started to see advice that says, "It can take DAYS for your turkey to thaw in the refrigerator." One of the times I made turkey, everything I found said "move it to the fridge the night before."

I usually buy my frozen turkey on Saturday or Sunday and leave it in the fridge until Thanksgiving morning. I should move it back to Thursday or Friday the week before, because it is usually still frozen in the center after thawing for four or five days.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 11, 2013, 09:28:37 AM
Re: the thawing of the turkey:

It is only in the last 2 years that I have started to see advice that says, "It can take DAYS for your turkey to thaw in the refrigerator." One of the times I made turkey, everything I found said "move it to the fridge the night before."


Yeah, right? Most places I've seen lately say 3.5 to 4.5 days--but honestly I think people should be warned--give it a week.
I usually buy my frozen turkey on Saturday or Sunday and leave it in the fridge until Thanksgiving morning. I should move it back to Thursday or Friday the week before, because it is usually still frozen in the center after thawing for four or five days.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: lowspark on November 11, 2013, 09:39:49 AM
Defrosting a reasonably sized turkey takes a minimum of four days in my experience. And if it's over 15 lbs or so, I'd give it five days minimum. Even with this amount of time in the fridge, my turkeys always still have chunks of ice embedded in the cavities so it's not too long. The chunks of ice are fine as the turkey is mostly defrosted and by the time I wash it off and get the organs out of the cavity and get the whole thing ready to go into the oven, it's all at a pretty good state, ready to cook.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 11, 2013, 12:37:12 PM
Here is a conversion from Butterball that shows you how long a turkey takes to thaw in the fridge or in the sink in cold water.   You can enter the weight and it will tell you by each method.


http://www.butterball.com/calculators-and-conversions (http://www.butterball.com/calculators-and-conversions)


Toots - Have you thought of having your oven checked and calibrated?  We go to a friend's house for TG the last two years, this year will be the third.  The last two years, even after her turkey was in the oven at the correct time adn temp, it still wasn't done.  Now, she could have put it in with a bit of ice still in the cavity ... I don't know, but she is doing a smaller turkey this year b/c she has discoverd for some reason, her oven can't handle a large turkey.  I have the same model as her and mine does it no problem.  So, it might behoove you to get your temp sensors etc. checked out. 


Stuffing the bird will add  more time, especially if packed too tightly, as you discovered.  You only need a few chunks of onion, celery, carrots, you could even put in a sliced apple.  Key is to ensure the ice is out of the cavity ... aka completely thawed.  If it is still a bit icy in the morning, run steady stream of slow cold water into the cavity until it thaws.  Do not place in oven even a bit frozen.  Make sure it is completely thawed before putting in oven. 


Here are some pics of where to insert the thermometer.   Some pics are downright incorrect.  Here is a drawing of where it is supposed to go:[size=78%]https://www.google.com/search?q=where+to+insert+thermometer+in+Turkey&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS430US482&espv=210&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=XR-BUsjNEMHayAHP-IEY&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1680&bih=865#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=7Zw2hUyHrRw7gM%3A%3BjdeMIWYNHzZ5zM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fww1.hdnux.com%252Fphotos%252F12%252F05%252F04%252F2642212%252F6%252F628x471.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.sfgate.com%252Fnews%252Farticle%252FChronicle-Classic-Best-Way-Brined-Turkey-2466350.php%3B399%3B471 (https://www.google.com/search?q=where+to+insert+thermometer+in+Turkey&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS430US482&espv=210&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=XR-BUsjNEMHayAHP-IEY&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1680&bih=865#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=7Zw2hUyHrRw7gM%3A%3BjdeMIWYNHzZ5zM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fww1.hdnux.com%252Fphotos%252F12%252F05%252F04%252F2642212%252F6%252F628x471.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.sfgate.com%252Fnews%252Farticle%252FChronicle-Classic-Best-Way-Brined-Turkey-2466350.php%3B399%3B471)[/size]


Here is a good image of where exactly to put the thermometer:  [/size][size=78%]https://www.google.com/search?q=where+to+insert+thermometer+in+Turkey&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS430US482&espv=210&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=XR-BUsjNEMHayAHP-IEY&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1680&bih=865#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=x5aeMud1T0rwmM%3A%3BkHGMdG6y-USK8M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F2.bp.blogspot.com%252F-YLIVCz8x1ao%252FTvFmVG9rb3I%252FAAAAAAAADks%252F5rW7I4LrgfM%252Fs1600%252Fturkey%252Bdima.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.dimasharif.com%252F2011%252F12%252Fapple-brined-turkey-recipe-you-will-be.html%3B1600%3B667 (https://www.google.com/search?q=where+to+insert+thermometer+in+Turkey&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS430US482&espv=210&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=XR-BUsjNEMHayAHP-IEY&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1680&bih=865#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=x5aeMud1T0rwmM%3A%3BkHGMdG6y-USK8M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F2.bp.blogspot.com%252F-YLIVCz8x1ao%252FTvFmVG9rb3I%252FAAAAAAAADks%252F5rW7I4LrgfM%252Fs1600%252Fturkey%252Bdima.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.dimasharif.com%252F2011%252F12%252Fapple-brined-turkey-recipe-you-will-be.html%3B1600%3B667)[/size]


This photo is WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!  DO NOT PUT IN THE UPPER BREAST LIKE PICTURED HERE:


https://www.google.com/search?q=where+to+insert+thermometer+in+Turkey&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS430US482&espv=210&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=XR-BUsjNEMHayAHP-IEY&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1680&bih=865#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=p0645c8Dboy_JM%3A%3BjDBDWPeUcLlJRM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.firepit-and-grilling-guru.com%252Fimages%252Fmeat-thermometer-2.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.firepit-and-grilling-guru.com%252Fmeat-thermometer.html%3B400%3B268 (https://www.google.com/search?q=where+to+insert+thermometer+in+Turkey&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS430US482&espv=210&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=XR-BUsjNEMHayAHP-IEY&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1680&bih=865#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=p0645c8Dboy_JM%3A%3BjDBDWPeUcLlJRM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.firepit-and-grilling-guru.com%252Fimages%252Fmeat-thermometer-2.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.firepit-and-grilling-guru.com%252Fmeat-thermometer.html%3B400%3B268)


Here is a great recipe for turkey stock:  [/size][size=78%]http://www.food.com/recipe/rescued-turkey-stock-24576 (http://www.food.com/recipe/rescued-turkey-stock-24576)[/size]   I tried stock many times and it never came out right before I tried this recipe.  It was always a murky grey colour with zip flavour.  Around this time of year, I start saving the clippings of all my veggies, bagged salad etc and put in ziploc bag in freezer.  The onion skin is what gives the stock the nice colour.  I save the bottoms and tops of celery, carrot peel, asparagus ends, any type of veggie, except potato peel b/c it makes the stock starchy.  Get in the habit of saving all your clippings instead of pitching or garburating them.  When I prepare dinner, I bring out my ziploc from the freezer and just add to it and back it goes.  I also wouldn't use strong tasting veggies like turnip. .. it overpowers the taste of the stock.  Following this method, you will have a wonderful turkey stock that is highly concentrated.  I usually let it reduce by at least 1/3 to 1/2 and then put in one or two cup containers in my freezer... or ziploc bags and lay flat.  Then, when I need, I dilute about 2/3 stock 1/3 water. 


LOTS of pepper and a decent amount of salt is key for gravy not being bland.  Put some veggies in the bottom of your turkey pan before you put in the oven, surround it by onions, carrots, celery... add some canned or container stock or water.  While the turkey is cooking, keep adding fluid to the pan.  You don't want the drippings to be mostly fat.  The juices, stock and veggies will blend and help make a more flavourful gravy.  You can also take the gizards, giblets, etc, put in a small pot of water, simmer for several minutes , strain and let cool, skim the fat and you can add this to your gravy pan as well for additional flavour. 


Here is the recipe I discovered a few years ago.  I never had luck with gravy and after finding this, it turns out great!  Get as many pan juices out of the turkey when it comes out of the oven and put in the fridge to allow the fat to settle.  It doesn't take long.. just make sure to let it cool a bit outside the fridge before you put it in.. don't want shattered container in your fridge with all that grease!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 11, 2013, 02:03:13 PM
Quote
Toots - Have you thought of having your oven checked and calibrated?  We go to a friend's house for TG the last two years, this year will be the third.  The last two years, even after her turkey was in the oven at the correct time adn temp, it still wasn't done.  Now, she could have put it in with a bit of ice still in the cavity ... I don't know, but she is doing a smaller turkey this year b/c she has discoverd for some reason, her oven can't handle a large turkey.  I have the same model as her and mine does it no problem.  So, it might behoove you to get your temp sensors etc. checked out. 


No, the problem w/ last year's turkey was that I chose the wrong temp to set my oven at.

When I cooked the chicken, the thermometer indicated it was done at almost exactly at the same time that all the charts said.

Not that calibrating an oven isn't a worthwhile thing, but I have no reason to think that mine is way off. (and now that I'm not really going to bake my trademark choc.chip cookies, it wouldn't throw stuff off too much if I tweaked it)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Arila on November 11, 2013, 03:52:39 PM
Inspired by this thread, I bought a Practice Turkey last week and plan to roast it some time this week (to check cooking/thawing time)

Bonus, I don't have to do HUGE turkeys, I will save some slices of this turkey in the freezer to fill out our meal.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 12, 2013, 01:26:58 PM
Quote
Toots - Have you thought of having your oven checked and calibrated?  We go to a friend's house for TG the last two years, this year will be the third.  The last two years, even after her turkey was in the oven at the correct time adn temp, it still wasn't done.  Now, she could have put it in with a bit of ice still in the cavity ... I don't know, but she is doing a smaller turkey this year b/c she has discoverd for some reason, her oven can't handle a large turkey.  I have the same model as her and mine does it no problem.  So, it might behoove you to get your temp sensors etc. checked out. 


No, the problem w/ last year's turkey was that I chose the wrong temp to set my oven at.

When I cooked the chicken, the thermometer indicated it was done at almost exactly at the same time that all the charts said.

Not that calibrating an oven isn't a worthwhile thing, but I have no reason to think that mine is way off. (and now that I'm not really going to bake my trademark choc.chip cookies, it wouldn't throw stuff off too much if I tweaked it)


Does your oven have its own built in probe? 


As for your chicken, I wonder if you possibly put the thermometer too close to the bone.  That would give a false done temp.   Were you using a turkey chart for the chicken? I don't think they would work the same way since chickens are typically smaller. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 12, 2013, 01:40:27 PM
Poultry is all cooked to the same temperature whether it's chicken, turkey, duck, or game fowl
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 12, 2013, 01:43:17 PM

Does your oven have its own built in probe? 


Nope, I bought a separate probe.

Quote
As for your chicken, I wonder if you possibly put the thermometer too close to the bone.  That would give a false done temp.   Were you using a turkey chart for the chicken? I don't think they would work the same way since chickens are typically smaller.

I really don't think it was too close to the bone. Plus, the outer parts of the chicken "felt" right, and the breast was overdone later. So I think it was done right at the first beep, and that I put too much stuff in the cavity, so that cooking couldn't go from the inside out as well.

I didn't use any chart--I used the "safe temperature" target from a chicken recipe--which is, not surprisingly, the same "safe temperature" for turkey. 165 degrees.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: peaches on November 12, 2013, 02:03:35 PM
Inspired by this thread, I bought a Practice Turkey last week and plan to roast it some time this week (to check cooking/thawing time)

Bonus, I don't have to do HUGE turkeys, I will save some slices of this turkey in the freezer to fill out our meal.

You could also use the drippings from your practice turkey to make gravy ahead of time, and store it in the freezer for Thanksgiving. (Or, freeze the drippings and make gravy closer to Thanksgiving.)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Arila on November 12, 2013, 03:29:43 PM
Inspired by this thread, I bought a Practice Turkey last week and plan to roast it some time this week (to check cooking/thawing time)

Bonus, I don't have to do HUGE turkeys, I will save some slices of this turkey in the freezer to fill out our meal.

You could also use the drippings from your practice turkey to make gravy ahead of time, and store it in the freezer for Thanksgiving. (Or, freeze the drippings and make gravy closer to Thanksgiving.)

FANTASTIC! Our kitchen is a bit tight, so if I don't have to be in there frantically trying to make gravy while hubby carves, then so much the better (We get along much better when we aren't both trying to occupy the same space while concentrating;)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Lynnv on November 12, 2013, 04:15:07 PM
Inspired by this thread, I bought a Practice Turkey last week and plan to roast it some time this week (to check cooking/thawing time)

Bonus, I don't have to do HUGE turkeys, I will save some slices of this turkey in the freezer to fill out our meal.

You could also use the drippings from your practice turkey to make gravy ahead of time, and store it in the freezer for Thanksgiving. (Or, freeze the drippings and make gravy closer to Thanksgiving.)

FANTASTIC! Our kitchen is a bit tight, so if I don't have to be in there frantically trying to make gravy while hubby carves, then so much the better (We get along much better when we aren't both trying to occupy the same space while concentrating;)

I highly recommend this as well.  I usually have the gravy made a good hour or so ahead of the meal.  It just sits in a crockpot until time to serve.  I add a little cream near the end to make it really rich-but otherwise, it can crock away for several hours as long as you are willing to tweak things to get the right consistency-and I am since it is much easier than last minute gravy making.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 13, 2013, 01:02:45 AM
Poultry is all cooked to the same temperature whether it's chicken, turkey, duck, or game fowl

Yes but a chicken typically isn't as big as a TG turkey so the cook times don't really apply.   I would do about 20 mins per pound for a chicken.  Never seen charts for them like Turkey bc of the size difference. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on November 13, 2013, 03:15:12 AM
Poultry is all cooked to the same temperature whether it's chicken, turkey, duck, or game fowl

Yes but a chicken typically isn't as big as a TG turkey so the cook times don't really apply.   I would do about 20 mins per pound for a chicken.  Never seen charts for them like Turkey bc of the size difference. 

Toots was using a probe thermometer, so consulting a cooking time chart doesn't apply because poultry is all cooked to the same temperature of 165F.  When using a probe thermometer, you don't set a timer, you set a temperature.  However long the bird takes to cook is however long it takes to cook.  Sure you can estimate how long it should take to cook, but you don't take it out until the thermometer has gone off.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 13, 2013, 07:37:14 AM
Part of the reason I never put stuffing in my turkey (or in roast chickens) is because of the problem that Toots had. When you have no airflow at all in the cavity, it's super hard to cook the entire thing to the correct temperature without overcooking the breast meat. It's a pretty easy fix to just put less in the cavity, and at least in the meantime.

I often use dry and/or overcooked chicken for casseroles or chicken salads or other applications where it's covered in sauce or similar. It generally tastes better, and the sauce makes it so the dryness doesn't matter (especially if you shred it). Since my husband and I generally have to freeze some of our leftover turkey (there are only two of us, after all), we usually end up having at least one turkey casserole with the leftovers. :)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: lowspark on November 13, 2013, 09:15:53 AM
I'm another one who never has put the stuffing into the turkey. It's just so much easier to deal with all around if you cook it separately. I do boil the extra bits (heart, neck, etc.) and pour the resulting water, plus some of the actual turkey drippings after it comes out of the oven, over the stuffing before baking it to give it that turkey flavor.

My stuffing goes in the oven almost immediately after the turkey comes out. It bakes for an hour, about the time it takes for the turkey to rest and get carved.

I know what you mean about the turkey being cold if you carve it all up before serving, but there's just no way I'm going to carve at the table or finish up carving after I've eaten that heavy meal. So I do carve it all up at once, then serve it. Once you pour the warm gravy over it, no one ever knows it was ever cold.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2013, 09:55:29 AM
Quote
I do boil the extra bits (heart, neck, etc.) and pour the resulting water, plus some of the actual turkey drippings after it comes out of the oven, over the stuffing before baking it to give it that turkey flavor.


One of the cousins is bringing the stuffing, since that keeps all the breadcrumbs out of my mostly-gluten-free kitchen (I could make stuffing w/ gluten-free bread, but I think people will enjoy the real kind better, plus it lets her contribute).

I was thinking at first I'd mention it to her, offering to loan her the drippings. But it depends on gravy.

Thanks for the reminder about casseroles and chicken salad, Dindrane.

(and yes, I was using a probe, so was going by temp--but anyway, the *chicken* recipe I was using gave a list of times based on weight, and my probe went off right about the time that the chicken recipe estimated.)


Re: the turkey, and letting it sit, carving it, etc:

It's not cold. It's just "no longer hot." So yes, w/ warm gravy especially, it's still good.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: lowspark on November 13, 2013, 10:02:48 AM
Re: the turkey, and letting it sit, carving it, etc:

It's not cold. It's just "no longer hot." So yes, w/ warm gravy especially, it's still good.

Right you are. It really isn't cold. Which is why when you top it with gravy, it warms right back up.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 13, 2013, 12:07:13 PM
Poultry is all cooked to the same temperature whether it's chicken, turkey, duck, or game fowl

Yes but a chicken typically isn't as big as a TG turkey so the cook times don't really apply.   I would do about 20 mins per pound for a chicken.  Never seen charts for them like Turkey bc of the size difference. 

Toots was using a probe thermometer, so consulting a cooking time chart doesn't apply because poultry is all cooked to the same temperature of 165F.  When using a probe thermometer, you don't set a timer, you set a temperature.  However long the bird takes to cook is however long it takes to cook.  Sure you can estimate how long it should take to cook, but you don't take it out until the thermometer has gone off.


People are misunderstanding.  I am not saying the temp is different.  Just that the turkey charts don't apply b/c the size of the bird is so much bigger than a chicken.  No one is cooking a chicken for 4.5 hours.  A chart for chicken is kind of pointless since there isn't the need to consult the time/weight factor since it is so much smaller. 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2013, 12:10:38 PM
I don't think we're misunderstanding.

We're saying, the "turkey chart" doesn't apply, because I wasn't using *time*.

And, anyway, it doesn't apply, because I used a chicken chart.

And because the "how many minutes?" chart often goes by pound anyway, and so of course a 6-pound turkey would cook pretty much the same as a 6-pound chicken.
And a 12-pound chicken would cook pretty much the same as a 12-pound turkey.

Other than size, they aren't particularly different. And the chart takes size into account.

But thanks for looking out for me!
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 13, 2013, 05:42:34 PM
Quote

That's why I don't brine - it means you can't use the pan juices for gravy, or stuff the turkey, without it getting too salty.


Is this true?

Never happened in the decade I have been brining. I rinse after brining before air drying the bird. I also never use foil.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2013, 05:56:37 PM
Thanks for the info! I think I may try to bring a chicken and roast it this weekend.


(and I've just realized that I can use the leftover sort-of-bland gravy AND the just-a-bit-overcooked meat from Experimental Chicken #1, and combine them, heat them up, add some Previously Frozen Veggies, and put them over the Guinea Pig Potatoes. That'll use them up AND make dinner! (I can even add some spices or a splash of wine when I reheat the gravy to keep it from being so bland. That'll make it Experimental Gravy 1.5.)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jpcher on November 13, 2013, 06:23:03 PM
Thanks for the info! I think I may try to bring a chicken and roast it this weekend.


(and I've just realized that I can use the leftover sort-of-bland gravy AND the just-a-bit-overcooked meat from Experimental Chicken #1, and combine them, heat them up, add some Previously Frozen Veggies, and put them over the Guinea Pig Potatoes. That'll use them up AND make dinner! (I can even add some spices or a splash of wine when I reheat the gravy to keep it from being so bland. That'll make it Experimental Gravy 1.5.)


Just curious as to your experimental gravy recipe . . . how did you make it?

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 13, 2013, 08:29:03 PM
I don't think we're misunderstanding.

We're saying, the "turkey chart" doesn't apply, because I wasn't using *time*.

And, anyway, it doesn't apply, because I used a chicken chart.

And because the "how many minutes?" chart often goes by pound anyway, and so of course a 6-pound turkey would cook pretty much the same as a 6-pound chicken.
And a 12-pound chicken would cook pretty much the same as a 12-pound turkey.

Other than size, they aren't particularly different. And the chart takes size into account.

But thanks for looking out for me!


I think this is where the disconnect is.  I have never seen a chicken chart before since a chicken is so much smaller than a turkey.  I don't typically use a thermometer for a chicken because it is 5 pounds max and I know that 20 mins per pound is pretty accurate and I don't stuff like I do a turkey . That is why I see a turkey completely different than a chicken.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 13, 2013, 08:30:30 PM
Toots, my favorite Thanksgiving-leftover casserole (that I sometimes make with chicken whenever I'm in the mood for it) is shredded turkey (or chicken) mixed with cranberry sauce and spinach (because I like spinach) or green beans. I usually do cream of mushroom with that, but you could probably also do gravy. Then I top the whole thing off with stuffing (which would of course only work for you if you made some gluten free stuffing).

But the point of that is, cranberry sauce in chicken or turkey casserole turns it a little pink, but is super delicious. If you decide to try it and use canned sauce, the whole berry kind doesn't turn the casserole as pink as the jellied kind.

I love making chicken casserole with roasted chicken, though. None of the other ways of cooking chicken are as flavorful, and it definitely beats canned chicken. Since I've mastered the art of shredding chicken with two forks, using roasted chicken is even more awesome.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2013, 09:01:30 PM
I just made a basic gravy. But I didn't add much flavoring.

* skimmed most of the fat from chicken drippings.
* deglazed the pan with Swanson's chicken broth (about 2 cups)
* added a little salt & pepper and Bell's (but I think my Bell's is old)
* made a slurry of cornstarch (2 Tbsp, maybe too much)
* heated until thickened; it also turned dark brown

I was mostly aiming at getting comfortable w/ the process, especially the thickening.

I think the next time, I'll try my friend's suggestion of pureeing some of the veggies (though I'll have to nuke them, bcs they didn't get really soft since the chicken didn't cook that long).

And I now have some homemade vegetable broth, so I might try that instead of canned chicken broth.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jpcher on November 15, 2013, 06:44:57 PM
I'm guessing your Bell's is old, or you didn't use enough. I've never used it (I looked up the ingredients) and it sounds quite flavorful.

If you're going to use the pureed veggies make sure you taste them before adding them to your stock. Sometimes all of the flavor is already cooked out so it won't add much taste to your gravy.



I'd like to suggest that you use some fresh (or powdered) herbs (instead of the Bell's) to enhance the flavor. Some of the standard turkey herbs are parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (sounds like a song, doesn't it? ;)) You should use the same herbs to season both your turkey and gravy so that the flavors of the turkey and gravy meld . . . So if you're using Bell's on your turkey, use it in the gravy.

http://www.ehow.com/way_5572034_herbs-spices-use-turkey.html

Page 1 (not the intro) talks a little about the herbs. (As a side note, I always add lemon to my turkey/chicken gravy. Cornish hens I use oranges.) So maybe think about a bit of something fruity to flavor your gravy . . . deglaze your pan with apple juice if you're using apples as part of your savory veggie stuffings . . . you know, that sort of thing.



I'm placing my bet on you, Toots, for the win. Your dinner is going to be awesome! ;D





Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 16, 2013, 10:39:09 AM
OK, today is "brining a chicken" day!

Thanks for the herb tips, jpcher!

I've always liked Bell's

Oh, and my cornstarch gravy was sort of a coagulated lump, but I put it on a pre-cooked baked potato w/ some shredded chicken and zapped it for lunch yesterday--it needed salt and pepper, but it was a nice lunch! I don't know that I'd consider it sensible to have served that gravy one its own, so not sure how it would have worked as "intentional leftovers."

Oh--on the giveaway shelf at work were two small boxes of "Chicken Soup for the Soul" turkey gravy. It has flour, but I'm going to keep it on hand in case the gravy doesn't come out right--everybody else can use that gravy.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Rohanna on November 16, 2013, 11:16:49 AM
Oh, and if you need to "cheat" with clumpy gravy and start over I've had success running the liquid through a fine mesh strainer to filter out the lumps. It's not perfect but it's better than yucky gravy or worse, no gravy :)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 16, 2013, 01:34:36 PM
I'm thinking that clumping is more likely with flour. Am I wrong?
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dazi on November 16, 2013, 02:41:15 PM
How to thicken any hot liquid with cornstarch (as taught to me by my Nana):

Get a small dish, spoon in some corn starch, add cold water while stirring vigorously (It should be more liquid than pasty), set slurry to the side

Cook whatever to boiling, remove from heat for a minute or two, stir in slurry vigorously

put back on the heat, do not stop stirring, let come back up to a light boil for about a minute

remove, let set for 5 minutes

Ta-da
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jpcher on November 16, 2013, 05:27:14 PM
I'm thinking that clumping is more likely with flour. Am I wrong?

It all depends on the technique. If your cornstarch slurry was lumpy when you added it to the liquid, then Yes. You will end up with lumpy bits in your gravy. For the corn starch, do what Dazi said. It is imperative that you get all the lumps out of your slurry before adding it to your stock base.


Flour -- again, depends on your technique. If you add a flour slurry to your stock base, then it's real easy for lumping to occur. I've never found success with this method.

Are you totally opposed to the gluten-free rice flour? I posted upthread that I prefer a flour roux based gravy but it is a must that you wisk/stir constantly to remove the clumps while you slowly add the liquid a bit at a time . . . stir, add liquid, stir until smooth, add liquid, stir until smooth, add more liquid, etc. . . . It might take as much as 10-15 minutes of constant stirring to incorporate all of your pre-made stock. Plus this type of gravy stores well and is easy to reheat.


I usually use the corn starch method for small amounts of last-minute gravy . . . more like a thickend sauce type of thing.


Making a rich, thick, flavorful gravy really isn't as simple as it sounds . . . try the rice-flour roux. It sounds like you have plenty of stock, so you're good to go in that area.




At the very least, you have back-up gravy boxes to serve. ;D
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 16, 2013, 05:36:13 PM
My experience with rice flour is that it is grainy. I will not have that.

Sweet rice flour seems to work without grains (from what I've read), but I don't have that, and I haven't seen it in my normal shopping places.

I have a Tupperware shaker that's great for making a slurry--I don't end up with lumps with it.

And it's WAY fast--much faster and less tricky, it sounds, than cooking a roux while stirring constantly, etc.

If I want to make practice gravy, do I *have* to have pan drippings? Can I just go w/ stock and cornstarch, or use butter and whatever flour substitute?
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Lynnv on November 16, 2013, 07:13:25 PM
I have a Tupperware shaker that's great for making a slurry--I don't end up with lumps with it.

And it's WAY fast--much faster and less tricky, it sounds, than cooking a roux while stirring constantly, etc.

I think it depends on the person.  My mom always uses a four/water slurry and gets good results.  On the other hand, she has never made a roux that didn't go wrong on her somehow.   

I have used corn starch slurries successfully, but have never had any good gravies made with a flour slurry. On the other hand, I have never had a problem with a roux or even a beurre manie (flour and butter kneaded together to form a dough that can be dropped in hot or warm liquid to act as a thickener).

If I want to make practice gravy, do I *have* to have pan drippings? Can I just go w/ stock and cornstarch, or use butter and whatever flour substitute?

You can easily use stock to make a practice gravy.  Just keep in mind that adding actual drippings to the gravy on Turkey Day will, at least in my experience, change the flavor profile some (for the better).  So you might not need to do as much extra to add flavor as you do to a gravy made from a stock.  The difference is less pronounced if the stock is a good quality homemade rather than a canned.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: lakey on November 17, 2013, 12:18:46 AM
If you do a practice turkey ahead of time, here are some suggestions for turkey leftovers. I love turkey leftovers.
Turkey sandwiches
Big salads with turkey chunks for lunch
I put turkey meat including dark meat in a crock pot with barbecue sauce to make barbecue sandwiches
hot turkey sandwiches, together with a side of mashed potatoes

For the gravy, many of the grocery stores around here have gravy in their deli department that is just like home made.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Marga on November 17, 2013, 02:49:47 PM
I have a Tupperware shaker that's great for making a slurry--I don't end up with lumps with it.

And it's WAY fast--much faster and less tricky, it sounds, than cooking a roux while stirring constantly, etc.

Want to know how to make an easy, fast, lump-free roux?
Measure all ingredients and make sure the liquid is cold. Dump all together in a pan. Yes, really, I'm serious: add all at once. Switch on the heat and start stirring, leisurely. By the time your butter has melted, the lumps of the flout will start to disappear. Bring to the boil, keep stirring until the liquid thickens and becomes nice and shiny. Turn down the heat and season to taste: done!

I saw this in a cookery programme once and never tried the old-fashioned method again. No more melting the butter, adding the flour, dribbling in the hot milk while stirring vigorously.

And: it works with gluten free flour as well, I know because I tried it.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jpcher on November 17, 2013, 03:31:15 PM
Oh, and my cornstarch gravy was sort of a coagulated lump, but I put it on a pre-cooked baked potato w/ some shredded chicken and zapped it for lunch yesterday--it needed salt and pepper, but it was a nice lunch! I don't know that I'd consider it sensible to have served that gravy one its own, so not sure how it would have worked as "intentional leftovers."

Okay, my bad. I was responding to the bold statement when I mentioned making sure that your slurry is smooth. It sounds like you're using the correct technique.

Once you zapped the gravy, was it still a coagulated lump?

Any gravy, whether it be flour or corn-starch based will look like a coagulated lump after refrigeration. Think about opening a can of cream-of-something soup. It is a coagulated lump until it is heated . . . So, other than your flavors, I think your gravy is a success. ;D



If I want to make practice gravy, do I *have* to have pan drippings? Can I just go w/ stock and cornstarch, or use butter and whatever flour substitute?

Most definitely you do not *have* to have pan drippings. The pan drippings are an extra added flavor boost because the juices come from the bird and include whatever seasonings you use with the bird. So, with whatever practice gravy you choose (getting the technique down pat), pan drippings are not a must. But adding them into your final product, after the turkey is done? Will add additional flavor to your gravy.

Butter and whatever flour substitute does not add any flavor whatsoever to your gravy. Use the herbs/spices for flavor.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 17, 2013, 04:55:21 PM

Once you zapped the gravy, was it still a coagulated lump?

Any gravy, whether it be flour or corn-starch based will look like a coagulated lump after refrigeration. Think about opening a can of cream-of-something soup. It is a coagulated lump until it is heated . . . So, other than your flavors, I think your gravy is a success. ;D

You're right! I hadn't thought of it that way.
It wasn't a coagulated lump; it was runny.

Quote

Most definitely you do not *have* to have pan drippings. The pan drippings are an extra added flavor boost because the juices come from the bird and include whatever seasonings you use with the bird. So, with whatever practice gravy you choose (getting the technique down pat), pan drippings are not a must. But adding them into your final product, after the turkey is done? Will add additional flavor to your gravy.

Butter and whatever flour substitute does not add any flavor whatsoever to your gravy. Use the herbs/spices for flavor.

Good to know! Because I can see trying to make gravy again, just to try out a gluten-free flour and a roux. But roasting a chicken in order to get there, well, what a lot of work! I think that early next week, I might roast turkey wings, etc., etc., and make the gravy ahead. But I'd like to practice.

and I don't know why I didn't think much about the idea that butter & thickener won't provide flavor--of course they don't! Duh.

So anyway, a report on Experimental Gravy #2: I used potato starch, got a slightly thin gravy, so I might want to add a bit more starch.
   I also used red wine to deglaze (I forgot that I should probably deglaze before pouring off the juices; I didn't have enough juice to lift the fat aboove the spout of the fat separator!). The vegetables I'd put in the roasting pan weren't very cooked, so I poured them into the container for the hand blender, added some chicken stock, and zapped to cook them thoroughly; pureed and stirred them in.
   it was pretty good--Hubby and Son said they liked it. I felt like it needed salt still.


Oh, and I brined the chicken. The breast was really juicy; the thigh was still a bit underdone. I may aim for 170 degrees instead of 165
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 17, 2013, 05:58:59 PM
I think we often end up cooking our chicken to 170 before we pull it out of the oven, just because my husband once way undercooked a chicken (he didn't realize there were gizzards stuffed in the cavity, so cooked it with them). He gave himself a campylobacter infection with that cooking escapade, so we've been pretty cautious ever since.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 19, 2013, 10:06:07 AM
Look what I found! This is a really useful set of tips.
Some of them I'd already sort of figured out, but it was really useful to find.

Especially I like the idea of taking the roasted turkey and putting it into a cooler to keep warm.
 
And he says that you have about 1.5 hours after the turkey comes out (esp. if you put it in a cooler) to roast all the other stuff.

And I'd already decided to do sautéed brussels sprouts so that they can be done on the stovetop instead of in the oven.


I *really* love the idea that you assign the non-cooked stuff to other people, because it keeps them away from the stove. It also means (he doesn't say this, but it's true) that it keeps *you* from having to worry about non-stove stuff. You can keep all your focus on those moving parts, and not have to go make a salad, etc.


http://food52.com/blog/4837-tom-s-no-sweat-rules-of-the-thanksgiving-road
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jpcher on November 19, 2013, 04:40:35 PM
Excellent tips! Plus you get an easy-sounding dry brine recipe to boot! ;D
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: kckgirl on November 29, 2013, 05:49:02 PM
So, Toots, how did your Thanksgiving meal go?
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 30, 2013, 12:55:41 PM
Thanks for asking!  I made gravy two or three days before. And it was really good--I used a make-ahead recipe that used turkey wings and potato starch (which is kinda opaque). It was nice to have that reduced to heating it up.

I'm glad I tried to practice mashed potatoes on a small scale the week before. I discovered that my ricer was rusted due to leak issues in that cabinet (so I mashed the 3 potatoes with a fork). That meant I was using unfamiliar tools on the day of. Mashed potatoes are easy, but in a big batch they're more complicated, so they were a weird sort of lumpy--little pealike ones. But they were still good.

I nearly forgot the gnocchi my MIL brought, so timing the food to people's arrival time was complicated.

And the turkey went in a little early bcs we have a clock in the kitchen that won't reset, so it's still on Daylight time and I was panicking. So this year it was done early. I stuck it in the insulated cooler to stay warm. I think it was also a little overdone (but not bad) bcs my leave-in thermometer went off at 170 deg. for the thigh but then said the breast was only 150. Then my other thermometer said it was 164 and I didn't know which to trust so I put it back in w/ the thermometer in the breast.

PRACTICING FAIL: The gluten-free biscuits went for the 17 minutes I'd tested them for but they were underdone. Honestly, you can keep 'em--they aren't good enough to be worth the trouble.

It was totally worthwhile to do all the practicing if ONLY bcs I felt so much more confident. Several of the things I practiced turned out to not be effective (biscuits bcs they didn't work out right; gravy bcs I decided to make it ahead), but I think they were useful anyway.

Oh, and I made a ton of stuff ahead, even if it was only cutting it up.

I have lessons for next time--I need to write them down. I think I'll skip the mashed potatoes in favor of the sweet potatoes w/ bourbon that had everybody raving.

I invented "Shaved Carrots and Parsnips in Old Bay" but I don't think people cared about it enough to bother again. Canned corn w/ butter was a hit. And I had done so much ahead that doing the Brussels sprouts on the stovetop wasn't stressful


But it's never a true cooking frenzy unless I cut myself, which I did twice. And scraped a knuckle.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: kckgirl on November 30, 2013, 01:08:23 PM
This year I did all the sides the day before (got out of work at 1:30 on Wednesday), so all I had to do in the morning was roast the turkey we were taking to the homeless center Thursday evening. Our dinner was at my daughter's place, and we took everything ready to go in the oven after she took the turkey out. The only last minute things we did were the green beans (with bacon, yum!) and the gravy. I think I'll continue to do that, because I wasn't so tired when we sat down to eat.

It's always good to practice ahead of time with unfamiliar recipes. I don't think I'd ever try anything for the first time on a holiday.

I've never seen potato starch. Do you get it in the regular grocery store, and does it work like corn starch?
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 30, 2013, 01:19:22 PM
I don't think I'd ever try anything for the first time on a holiday.

One of the "how to organize Thanksgiving" websites I read said this as well, and I thought, "Well, that's no fun!"

Though, the stuff that was new was not particularly daunting--sweet potatoes roasted in bourbon & brown sugar; shredded brussels sprouts and bacon sauteed in a frying pan. Some sort of variation on techniques and foods I'm already comfortable with.

And the stuff that worried me--gravy especially, even after 2 experimental versions--it was such a help to do a few days before.



Quote
I've never seen potato starch. Do you get it in the regular grocery store, and does it work like corn starch?

I got Bob's Red Mill from the grocery store. It wouldn't have been available much in the past, but now that so many food manufacturers are trying to accommodate people on gluten-free diets, it's more readily available. It works much the way cornstarch does--I whisked it with  a cup of broth and then added that to the flavored stock and cooked to thicken. But cornstarch makes a more translucent gravy, and the potato starch made it more opaque (which is what flour does to the translucency).
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 30, 2013, 01:25:28 PM
And, I'm so enamored of my mashed potatoes and gravy leftovers that I think I'll be making every now and then going forward. Partly to play with the new ricer I bought.

My mom used a ricer for mashed potatoes, and I asked her once to set aside some that were not mashed. She did, and I became a major fan of riced potatoes (they use a TON more gravy than mashed do, and more even than on a baked potatoes--they just soak it up). So I think I'm going to try that in the future as well, just for fun.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: gollymolly2 on November 30, 2013, 01:33:23 PM
I'm really glad it went (mostly) smoothly!


I don't think I'd ever try anything for the first time on a holiday.

One of the "how to organize Thanksgiving" websites I read said this as well, and I thought, "Well, that's no fun!"

<snip>

I thought the same thing! Although probably for different reasons. Thanksgiving is just about the only time a year I cook so it'd be very constraining if I had to stick with experienced dishes! :)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 30, 2013, 01:43:44 PM
I like to try new things at Thanksgiving, too, since I don't do much cooking at other times of the year. But, I do try to stick with variations on things I am already comfortable with, or to make sure that whatever new thing I'm trying is either non-essential or has a solid back-up plan.

So the first year I made cranberry sauce from actual cranberries, I still bought a couple cans of it in case mine turned out no good. This year, I tried a new recipe for cooked cranberry sauce, but it was the same method I've used before with only slightly different ingredients (and I bought two bags of cranberries just in case I screwed it up or we didn't like it).

I'm glad your T-giving worked out well, Toots! I realized after cooking ours this year that a reliable probe thermometer is absolutely not optional anymore. We keep having ours break, so we've been relying on an instant-read thermometer. It works fine, but it means we have to keep finding the right spot to put it, and continuously take the turkey (or whatever) out of the oven in order to test it. The dark meat on our turkey this year ended up being a teeny bit undercooked, I think largely because we weren't able to get an accurate read on the thighs consistently. It wasn't a big deal (we just put the dark meat only back in the oven to cook al little longer), but I really hate the guesswork when I can't 100% trust that the temperature I'm seeing is accurate.

On the plus side, our turkey was delicious and juicy, and since we planned to eat it for actual dinner, we had the whole day to slowly cook the sides before we had to put the turkey in. It's one of the perks of having just the two of us for the holiday. There's no set timeline, and nowhere we needed to be.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 30, 2013, 01:52:40 PM
I bought a leave-in probe thermometer for this year, and I wasn't happy with it on the turkey!

It beeped a 170d in the thigh (I'm pretty sure it wasn't right next to the bone), but the juices were a little pink.

I tested the breast with it, and got a too-low reading.

So I got out the instant-read thermometer, and *it* said 164, which would have been perfect. But the probe one just would NOT read that high, and the temps of each subsequent reading were dropping, and the juice was pink, so I stuck it back in the oven.

I think it was probably fine at the first beeping, but it didn't get too dried out--everyone commented how moist it was (though I think it could have been moister).
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dindrane on November 30, 2013, 08:00:35 PM
I've had a great deal of success with probe thermometers...while they lasted. We destroyed our first one when my husband overheated a pan of oil (it burst into flames, he sprayed down everything with a fire extinguisher, and we were cleaning that stuff up for weeks). The second one worked great until the wire of the probe got burned by touching the oven's heating element. The third we bought at IKEA, and it never worked so we threw it away.

We also kind of had the opposite problem with our turkey this year. The juices were all running clear when the temperature was way too low to be done (like 130). It wasn't until we went to carve it that we saw pink meat and pink juices.

Every year at Thanksgiving, I tell myself we need to roast more chickens, just to gain some confidence with roasting whole poultry. It's a good idea, since it seems to be as much an art as a science, but we don't always do it. :)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 30, 2013, 08:31:53 PM
Having just roasted somewhat-small chickens as practice during the run-up, I'm not sure that it's as useful as one might expect. Maybe roasting big chickens would be more analagous.

I wish I'd trusted the first probe alarm.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on November 30, 2013, 09:49:47 PM
Having just roasted somewhat-small chickens as practice during the run-up, I'm not sure that it's as useful as one might expect. Maybe roasting big chickens would be more analagous.

I wish I'd trusted the first probe alarm.

I learned the hard way...I questioned the probe with a big prime rib.....always trust the probe.   Lol. You need a good quality digital instant read.  Oxo has a good one  where the probe slides inside and the cord wraps around. Polder is another good brand.   

That is what I tried to explain earlier in the thread about chicken vs Turkey.  It is hard to do a test run on a bird that is considerably smaller than a turkey.  The internal temp is the same when done, but the time to get there us completely different.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Dazi on December 01, 2013, 06:47:39 AM
I'm sort of having trouble seeing how it seems a lot of people have such problems with cooking turkey.  The cooking time for poultry is 20 minutes per pound at 350 F regardless if it's chicken turkey, duck, or goose.  So a 20 lbs bird would take about 6 hrs and 40 ish minutes, 15 lbs bird would take 5 hours, a 6 lbs one takes about 2 hrs, a 3 lbs one about an hour.  If your not sure of the time, the easiest method I've found is to take the poundage and divide by 3, this gives you the hours easily.

You just have to make sure that 1. the bird is completely thawed before you prep it the way you want without over stuffing it, then it goes in the oven, 2. that you cover it up and leave it the heck alone (repeatedly checking on it lowers the temp of the oven and the bird), 3. about 10-30 minutes before the time is up (depending on the size) uncover, give a quick baste or I like to rub a stick of butter over it quickly, 4. pop it back in the oven for the remainder of the time, 5. take out, cover it back up and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, 6. you're ready to carve.

I rarely use a meat probe. I can usually tell if it's done just by looking at it/smell or I pop a very small hole in the bottom of the thigh skin, if it is still even slightly pink, it goes back in the over for 20 more minutes.  I've never had dry turkey, but if you do end up with some that is drier than you like just arrange the meat on a plate, spoon some of the juices on/or warmed up chicken broth, and let it sit for a couple minutes.

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jaxsue on December 01, 2013, 10:13:50 AM
I can cook a turkey in my sleep (my best advice: loosely drape tin foil over the breast so it doesn't dry out, until the last 1/2 hour or so). But, I did have to test a recipe this year. Since Chanukah began this week, my Thanksgiving host asked if I would make latkes - a variation on the normal recipe, with sweet potatoes and turnips rather than regular potatoes. Since I didn't grow up with Jewish food, I was new at this. I did a test run a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and I'm proud to say they turned out well, and I got great reviews at the Thanksgiving dinner.  8)
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 01, 2013, 10:57:19 AM
I'm sort of having trouble seeing how it seems a lot of people have such problems with cooking turkey.  The cooking time for poultry is 20 minutes per pound at 350 F regardless if it's chicken turkey, duck, or goose.  So a 20 lbs bird would take about 6 hrs and 40 ish minutes, 15 lbs bird would take 5 hours, a 6 lbs one takes about 2 hrs, a 3 lbs one about an hour.  If your not sure of the time, the easiest method I've found is to take the poundage and divide by 3, this gives you the hours easily.

You just have to make sure that 1. the bird is completely thawed before you prep it the way you want without over stuffing it, then it goes in the oven, 2. that you cover it up and leave it the heck alone (repeatedly checking on it lowers the temp of the oven and the bird), 3. about 10-30 minutes before the time is up (depending on the size) uncover, give a quick baste or I like to rub a stick of butter over it quickly, 4. pop it back in the oven for the remainder of the time, 5. take out, cover it back up and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, 6. you're ready to carve.

I rarely use a meat probe. I can usually tell if it's done just by looking at it/smell or I pop a very small hole in the bottom of the thigh skin, if it is still even slightly pink, it goes back in the over for 20 more minutes.  I've never had dry turkey, but if you do end up with some that is drier than you like just arrange the meat on a plate, spoon some of the juices on/or warmed up chicken broth, and let it sit for a couple minutes.

Dazi, I can't imagine cooking a 18 lb bird for 5 hrs at 350. How is it not completely dried out? The breast must be way over 165 degrees. Even the government food safety charts say an 18 -20 lb bird at 325 should be 4.25 to 4.75 hrs if stuffed.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: sparksals on December 01, 2013, 01:44:15 PM
I'm sort of having trouble seeing how it seems a lot of people have such problems with cooking turkey.  The cooking time for poultry is 20 minutes per pound at 350 F regardless if it's chicken turkey, duck, or goose.  So a 20 lbs bird would take about 6 hrs and 40 ish minutes, 15 lbs bird would take 5 hours, a 6 lbs one takes about 2 hrs, a 3 lbs one about an hour.  If your not sure of the time, the easiest method I've found is to take the poundage and divide by 3, this gives you the hours easily.

You just have to make sure that 1. the bird is completely thawed before you prep it the way you want without over stuffing it, then it goes in the oven, 2. that you cover it up and leave it the heck alone (repeatedly checking on it lowers the temp of the oven and the bird), 3. about 10-30 minutes before the time is up (depending on the size) uncover, give a quick baste or I like to rub a stick of butter over it quickly, 4. pop it back in the oven for the remainder of the time, 5. take out, cover it back up and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, 6. you're ready to carve.

I rarely use a meat probe. I can usually tell if it's done just by looking at it/smell or I pop a very small hole in the bottom of the thigh skin, if it is still even slightly pink, it goes back in the over for 20 more minutes.  I've never had dry turkey, but if you do end up with some that is drier than you like just arrange the meat on a plate, spoon some of the juices on/or warmed up chicken broth, and let it sit for a couple minutes.


I think turkey can be very intimidating, especially to someone who hasn't made one before.  Add to that the importance of the holiday.  I get a bit stressed doing TG just b/c I don't ever want to undercook it!  It is so big that it is easy to miss a few spots that might be underdone.


I always use a probe.  Ovens vary.  I do mine at 325 and a 20 pound bird takes about 4 huors b/c I have a convection oven.  This past US TG, I did the bird in the smoker and a 13 lb bird took over 5 hours! 


While there are guidelines, I don't think that it is hard and fast for everyone b/c ovens do vary alot!

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Lynnv on December 01, 2013, 01:47:51 PM
I'm sort of having trouble seeing how it seems a lot of people have such problems with cooking turkey.  The cooking time for poultry is 20 minutes per pound at 350 F regardless if it's chicken turkey, duck, or goose.  So a 20 lbs bird would take about 6 hrs and 40 ish minutes, 15 lbs bird would take 5 hours, a 6 lbs one takes about 2 hrs, a 3 lbs one about an hour.  If your not sure of the time, the easiest method I've found is to take the poundage and divide by 3, this gives you the hours easily.

You just have to make sure that 1. the bird is completely thawed before you prep it the way you want without over stuffing it, then it goes in the oven, 2. that you cover it up and leave it the heck alone (repeatedly checking on it lowers the temp of the oven and the bird), 3. about 10-30 minutes before the time is up (depending on the size) uncover, give a quick baste or I like to rub a stick of butter over it quickly, 4. pop it back in the oven for the remainder of the time, 5. take out, cover it back up and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, 6. you're ready to carve.

I rarely use a meat probe. I can usually tell if it's done just by looking at it/smell or I pop a very small hole in the bottom of the thigh skin, if it is still even slightly pink, it goes back in the over for 20 more minutes.  I've never had dry turkey, but if you do end up with some that is drier than you like just arrange the meat on a plate, spoon some of the juices on/or warmed up chicken broth, and let it sit for a couple minutes.

Dazi, I can't imagine cooking a 18 lb bird for 5 hrs at 350. How is it not completely dried out? The breast must be way over 165 degrees. Even the government food safety charts say an 18 -20 lb bird at 325 should be 4.25 to 4.75 hrs if stuffed.

I have cooked 20+ pound birds (using a probe to ensure that it is fully done).   It has never taken anywhere near 7 hours to cook.   It has been a while since I did a huge one, but I seem to recall something more like 4 hours, unstuffed.  And that was before I had the convection oven.    6 hrs and 40 min would have been way, way overdone.   

 
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jpcher on December 01, 2013, 02:23:59 PM
Toots -- I am very happy for you that your dinner turned out so well! I give you an A+ for effort and especially for doing your homework and practice ahead of time. I'm sure your guests were well pleased. ;D

I'm hoping that you found this experience to be an enjoyable one rather than "I'm never doing that again!" Hosting an event like this can be daunting, but you persevered and succeeded. Major kudos to you!



That being said, are you ready to do it again next year? ;D
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Venus193 on December 01, 2013, 02:46:17 PM
I've never bought or received a turkey that didn't come with instructions and now that we have the internet, there is nothing to worry about.

Unless you really hate to cook in which case why would you be hosting TG?
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: jpcher on December 01, 2013, 04:22:01 PM
I've never bought or received a turkey that didn't come with instructions and now that we have the internet, there is nothing to worry about.

Unless you really hate to cook in which case why would you be hosting TG?

LOL! Now that we have the internet there is sooooo much more to worry about! ;D

Because everybody out there says that their recipe/method is the best! It's fail-proof! You gotta do it THIS way!


It's been many years since I've roasted a turkey (SIL has taken over Tgiving day dinner :'() and I used to use a cheese cloth over the breast part and baste every 30-40 minutes or so to keep in the moisture. I've also done turkey on the webber grill (Major Yum! but there is a technique to this) SIL does her turkey in a counter-top roaster oven which is always tender and juicy but the skin doesn't brown.

Other posters mentioned brining and then there's always the deep frier method . . .

So, even though the turkey comes with instructions there are so many other options out there on the internet which can easily cause confusion for the first-time turkey cooker. As was seen in this thread. What is the best method?
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: Venus193 on December 01, 2013, 07:15:16 PM
For me it was in the oven, tented until the last 30 minutes, with bacon on the top.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: PastryGoddess on December 01, 2013, 08:01:31 PM
bacon makes everything better.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on December 01, 2013, 08:27:39 PM
I've never bought or received a turkey that didn't come with instructions and now that we have the internet, there is nothing to worry about.

Unless you really hate to cook in which case why would you be hosting TG?

LOL! Now that we have the internet there is sooooo much more to worry about! ;D

Because everybody out there says that their recipe/method is the best! It's fail-proof! You gotta do it THIS way!

Yep, that was my problem last year!

Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: pinkflamingo on January 03, 2014, 02:43:58 PM

One of the cousins is bringing the stuffing, since that keeps all the breadcrumbs out of my mostly-gluten-free kitchen (I could make stuffing w/ gluten-free bread, but I think people will enjoy the real kind better, plus it lets her contribute).


I'm quite late to the party, but I feel duty-bound to mention that gluten-free stuffing is SO GOOD. Everything that makes gluten-free bread kind of disappointing as actual bread makes it perfect for stuffing. It dries out easily and quickly, which means that it's even better at soaking up all the flavors you add to it and it gets crispy around the edges if you bake it in a dish instead of in the bird. Unless there's a traditional family recipe requiring special bread, I bet no one would even notice the difference.

Also, Bob's Red Mill gluten-free cornbread mix is even better than their regular. I don't have any gluten issues, but I frequently cook for those who do.
Title: Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
Post by: TootsNYC on January 04, 2014, 09:48:23 AM

One of the cousins is bringing the stuffing, since that keeps all the breadcrumbs out of my mostly-gluten-free kitchen (I could make stuffing w/ gluten-free bread, but I think people will enjoy the real kind better, plus it lets her contribute).


I'm quite late to the party, but I feel duty-bound to mention that gluten-free stuffing is SO GOOD. Everything that makes gluten-free bread kind of disappointing as actual bread makes it perfect for stuffing. It dries out easily and quickly, which means that it's even better at soaking up all the flavors you add to it and it gets crispy around the edges if you bake it in a dish instead of in the bird. Unless there's a traditional family recipe requiring special bread, I bet no one would even notice the difference.

Also, Bob's Red Mill gluten-free cornbread mix is even better than their regular. I don't have any gluten issues, but I frequently cook for those who do.

Ooh, that is interesting to know! I'm not generally a stuffing fan, actually, because it's so gluey (hey, "glu-ey"! I never realized that before, but it's where the term comes from, etymologically--I just looked it up!)


An that's good to know about the cornbread mix. I can get Bob's Red Mill very easily.