Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

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.


Anonymous said...

Thansgiving IS a family day! Great tips for the turkey. Have a great weekend!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My best tip - go to someone else's house for Thanksgiving! Makes for easy cleanup as well.

Linda G. said...

Wow, you have it down to a science! Fortunately for me, my in-laws host Thanksgiving every year, and all we have to do is show up with the green bean casserole. (I know. Don't hate me.)

Matthew Rush said...

Around here a lot of people deep fry their turkeys. That sounds crazy to me, but I'm a Yankee, so that may have something to do with it.

Liza said...

I only have three pages of written notes, but one is two columns. Does that count? I have it down to what time I have to put what into the oven on T-day. I got scared today (already) when I couldn't find my list for a few minutes. I'd left on the coffee table instead of the counter.

Melissa Gill said...

Thank God all I have to do are the dishes.

Em-Musing said...

I was always afraid of killing my guests with tainted stuffing so I switched to cornbread dressing that doesn't go inside bird and gets roasted by itself.

notesfromnadir said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH!:) I appreciate any & all cooking tips because I'm not much of 1. I hope you do put together a cookbook as it'd be so easy for you to do based on all your experience.

SugarScribes said...

Thank you for the tips. It is nice to be reminded that Thansgiving is about family and I believe we all have an "Uncle Vic",lol. I appreciate the cooking advice as well, but I will never attempt to cook Thanksgiving again. I am 43 and still traumatized by my first and only attempt. I was a sophmore in college and invted about 20 friends (everyone I knew who did not go home) to my new townhouse. Forget about Monday, I took the Turkey out to defrost at 10:00 am on Turkey Day. Needless to say we ate corn, rice, peas, and rolls.

Dangerous With a Pen said...

We host Thanksgiving but my husband cooks. Whew! I clean. And decorate. And avoid Uncle Vic. ;)

G.~ said...

Thank you for that Anne. Especially for the description of the "loose measurements."

It's strange reading the trappings of Thanksgiving in black and white because I have never noticed all of the work that really goes into this day. I'm usually on auto-pilot and don't even pay attention. Including the money spent...

As far as the hot stuffing in a cold turkey? I never knew that! Guess we got lucky all these years, but now that I know, I'll start putting the stuffing in cold.

My favorite part of these holidays is all the prep and cooking. I love to entertain.

Have a great Thanksgiving Anne.

Bossy Betty said...

Thank you so much! Now, if you could only tell me how to make a Tofurkey taste like a real turkey....

The Words Crafter said...

This was a fun read and also full of great advice. Our family isn't as big anymore, so I truly appreciate it when we can all manage to get together, arguments and laughter alike.

I hope yours is wonderful!

Donna Hole said...

Got my guy fix too Anne - thanks for those images. I'm with you on the whole "wouldn't know what to do with a bad boy" idea, but I sure like to look. And dream. Wowza.

My daughter and her family - including the new grandson - are coming to my place for thanksgiving. I'm so pleased. Lists for guests, what a great idea.

Have a happy one . .


Julie Musil said...

These are such great tips, and now my mouth is watering for stuffing! My husband works on Thanksgiving this year. He's a firefighter, so we'll all spend the holiday at the fire station. It should be fun. Happy Thanksgiving!

Shelley Sly said...

"Remember why you've come together." Super important to keep in mind! It can be easy to dread holidays, but I'm trying to stay positive. Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful, Anne!

Portia said...

Well said! I remember the trauma of my cat getting a turkey bone caught in her teeth. Strangely enough, it was my boyfriend's calm handling of the situation that locked in his status as husband! Anyone who would take special care with my beloved kitty to remove the bone from her teeth was the perfect man for me :-)

Happy Turkey day!


Shannon said...

Great suggestions! Thank you so much! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! <3