On the menu today – Thanksgiving
Today I thought, I would share with you some helpful hints I’ve picked up over the course of my years as a chef to help you deal with cooking the bird next Thursday. Seems the least I could do considering I haven’t had a contest yet.
Anyway, for those of you cooking this year, here are some quick tips –
If your bird is frozen when you buy it, take it out on Monday to defrost. Still in plastic wrapper, put it in the kitchen sink when you get up in the morning. Put it back in the fridge Monday night before you go to bed. Leave it in the fridge until you are ready to cook. (Unless you live somewhere its 70 degrees, then only leave it out until lunchtime.)
Wash your turkey inside out. I know it’s a pain, the guts and juice splatter all over the place, and you drop it twice on the floor, never fails, but you have to rinse it out. And pat it dry, especially inside the bottom. Don’t leave water pooling in the guts.
I cook my stuffing the day before (sometimes two depending on what else I have to cook) and keep it cold until I stuff the turkey. NEVER stuff a cold turkey with hot dressing. (I could explain about the salmonella and possible botulism but I don’t want to take up too much of your time.)
Loose Measurements –
Pinch – two fingers or half teaspoon
A Little Bit – three fingers or full teaspoon
A Sprinkle – product around the circumference of the bowl or quarter cup
Handful – 4 ounces or half cup
Remember your pets. DO NOT give them fat, cooked, or not, skin, raw or cooked, or gravy. Too much fat content can mess with their billirubins and cause them to go into liver failure. (We lost a dog because of this one year and it was not fun. He got into someone’s trash and ate a coffee can full of leftover grease and turkey fat.) NO BONES for either dog or cat; they splinter and could lodge anywhere.
If its’ cold enough, I use my car as a temporary fridge. Especially the day after Thanksgiving. (I did go shopping one year with pies and half of a dessert tray under my hatchback. Needless to say, that year, I spent too much money because I had ready food.)
Remember why you’ve come together. I always forget when my mother is bitching about my father who’s watching the game too loud and Monster Baby already dirty before my aunt and uncle and cousins get there. You know, the family crap. It’s what keeps you going back, year after year, even if the bird is too dry and Uncle Vic is still kind of icky. Love the ones you’re with. Or at least fake it. Especially when your sister-in-law shows up with her sparkly new whatever.
My biggest suggestion, and I know I shouldn’t even bother with this because I know, as writers, you already do this – Make a list of what you need to do. Prioritize. Make a menu. This will help you focus. Make a time chart for the oven, what needs to go in at what time so everything is hot on the table. Make a list of things to do if guests (children, husbands should ask – Do you want me to do something?) By the end of Thanksgiving Day, I generally have about six pages of written notes. (I have a scrapbook full of stuff, someday I’m gonna write a real book…)
If you have any questions about thanksgiving recipes, or cooking, or even kitchen utensils, please feel free to ask me in the comments. Have a great weekend.