Let’s talk turkey… and while we’re at it, mashed potatoes too. Two staples that grace Thanksgiving tables every November. With so many different “tips and tricks” to the perfect roast turkey, or the best mashed potatoes, how do you know where to start this holiday season? We’ve gone back to the basics with some tips to get you started.
All About The Turkey
- It is recommended that for sufficient servings for Thanksgiving as well as leftovers, count on 1 to 1 1/4 lb. of turkey per person.
- To brine or not brine? We recommend brining. Soaking a turkey in a brining solution will help ensure moist, juicy cooked meat. The salt-water brine solution increases the juiciness of the meat by breaking down the protein structure. Try our Farmhouse Brine for a robust blend of whole and cracked spices that is simply mixed with water.
- Cover your turkey in the solution and refrigerate for at least 10 hours, but no longer than 24 hours. When you’re ready to cook, pour off your brine, rinse the turkey well with cool tap water and pat dry with towels.
- To create a rich, golden brown skin you’ll want to either use a compound butter or brush the skin with melted butter or oil prior to cooking. As the turkey roasts, both options allow the butter to melt into the meat and it will crisp the skin during cook time. The butter will also enhance the pan drippings and results in an especially rich gravy.
- For best results, bring your turkey to room temperature and roast at 400° F, breast side down, for the first 45 minutes of cooking, then turn the bird breast side up and roast at 325° F until done (165° F for breast meat, 175° F for thighs). Allow to rest 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
Mashed Potato Bliss
- The best choices for potatoes are Russet (very starchy, creamy) or Yukon Gold (great butter flavor).
- Start potatoes with cold water, covering them by at least an inch or two and adding 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. The salt will make them more flavorful.
- Cook uncovered until a paring knife slips easily into the potato. Drain your potatoes, then dump them back into the hot pot over low heat for two to three minutes. This will remove any moisture and will allow the potatoes to absorb more flavorful ingredients.
- Once your potatoes are cooked, process them through a potato ricer for silky, creamy mashed potatoes. A potato masher can be used, but will yield slightly chunky potatoes.
- Add melted, warm butter before adding warm dairy. A tip from our kitchen: infuse your warmed milk/cream with whole garlic cloves before adding it to your potatoes for an extra boost of flavor. Be sure to remove the cloves from your dairy before adding to potatoes.
- If you are going to hold your potatoes for an hour or two before serving, place mashed potatoes in a metal bowl over simmering water and cover (make sure bowl does not touch the water). The potatoes will remain silky. You may have to add a little additional dairy just before serving.
- For fun add-ins, try our Roasted Garlic Onion Jam, Maple Bacon Onion Jam, Horseradish Mustard or Wasabi Mustard. Please visit our website for full recipes.
Don’t Forget The Veggies
- To contrast your hearty main dishes of turkey, potatoes and stuffing, add bright vegetable dishes to your table.
- To preserve the beautiful color of your vegetables, blanch them quickly by putting them in a sieve in boiling water and cook until fork tender, but still crisp. Remove sieve and plunge vegetables into an ice bath. Drain and pat dry. This can be done a day ahead – just reheat in a skillet with butter or olive oil just before serving.
- Having trouble cutting your squash in half? Set it on a dish towel and place a sharp carving knife lengthwise on the squash. Give the top of the blade a quick hit with a meat tenderizing mallet and the squash should separate in a flash.
- For a simple, delicious way to serve sliced carrots or beans, steam or boil for a few minutes, then sauté in butter, glaze with your favorite marmalade and garnish with fresh chopped herbs, chopped nuts or a crumbling of blue cheese.
- We’d be remiss if we didn’t touch upon gravy, too. For the perfect gravy, start by deglazing your pan using a small amount of liquid to loosen the bits of caramelized turkey at the bottom of the pan. This will create a rich flavor.
- Make your roux out of equal parts room temperature butter and flour. It should have a paste-like consistency.
- Use a fat separator to remove the fat from the juice that accumulates in the roasting pan.
- Add roux to a saucepan over medium heat and melt until bubbly. Slowly pour in the pan drippings, while whisking into the roux. Cook until smooth and thickened, and season to taste.
- For perfectly smooth gravy, strain your finished homemade gravy through a sieve. This will get rid of a lll the lumps and results in a very creamy, smooth gravy.
For more great recipes and for all things Thanksgiving, visit us at http://www.stonewallkitchen.com/recipes.