Author Topic: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?  (Read 15973 times)

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Lynnv

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #165 on: November 16, 2013, 08:13:25 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.
Lynn

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lakey

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #166 on: November 17, 2013, 01:18:46 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.

Marga

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #167 on: November 17, 2013, 03:49:47 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.

jpcher

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #168 on: November 17, 2013, 04:31:15 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.

TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #169 on: November 17, 2013, 05:55:21 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

Dindrane

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #170 on: November 17, 2013, 06:58:59 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.


TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #171 on: November 19, 2013, 11:06:07 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

jpcher

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #172 on: November 19, 2013, 05:40:35 PM »
Excellent tips! Plus you get an easy-sounding dry brine recipe to boot! ;D

kckgirl

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #173 on: November 29, 2013, 06:49:02 PM »
So, Toots, how did your Thanksgiving meal go?
Maryland

TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #174 on: November 30, 2013, 01:55:41 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.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2013, 02:23:19 PM by TootsNYC »

kckgirl

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #175 on: November 30, 2013, 02:08:23 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?
Maryland

TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #176 on: November 30, 2013, 02:19:22 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).
« Last Edit: November 30, 2013, 02:22:46 PM by TootsNYC »

TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #177 on: November 30, 2013, 02:25:28 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.

gollymolly2

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #178 on: November 30, 2013, 02:33:23 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! :)

Dindrane

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #179 on: November 30, 2013, 02:43:44 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.