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The key to planning a successful holiday meal is being able to enjoy it.
Here are a few tips for planning an enjoyable meal . . .
Plan your menu in advance to be sure the proper ingredients are available or can be ordered in time for the holiday. Be sure to include menu items that can be prepared the day before and finished easily just before dining. Items like Stroudsmoor’s candied squash, sausage stuffing and sweet potatoes, and cranberry relish are best when prepared in advance and allowed to marinate.
Buying your Bird . . . a good rule of thumb for purchasing enough turkey to feed your guests is to allow one-pound of turkey per person – this takes into consideration some waste, bones and shrinkage. However, if you are blessed with a family of hearty eaters or want to make sure there are leftovers, count on two-pounds of bird per person.
Defrosting your turkey is the longest of the preparation processes, taking a minimum of two-days in refrigeration to thaw depending on the size of the bird. It you’ve forgotten to take Tom out of the freezer or haven’t the refrigerator space for a long-term thawing, fill a sink, basin or deep pot with cold – NEVER HOT – water and completely submerge the bird. Change the water from time to time checking on the progress of the thaw. Turkeys can be cooked in a semi-frozen state, but be sure to add to the cooking time, so the Tom is ready for dinner when you are!
Stuffing is a family favorite, so whether your famous for sausage, chestnut or some other exotic stuffing make sure you’ve made enough to feed the army . . . Most any type can be made the day before, which will allow time for cooling before stuffing the bird. Remember always clean the turkey cavity well with cold – NEVER HOT – salt water, be sure the stuffing has cooled to room temperature and don’t forget to remove the innards before filling your bird!!!!
Cooking the bird is a snap! To avoid spending time basting instead of enjoying your guests, cover your turkey with a sheet of baker’s parchment and foil. Rub your bird with butter and season to taste with salt and pepper, cover with parchment and foil then cook normally, uncovering the bird for the last 20 minutes in the oven to create a succulent golden skinned turkey. No thermometer in the house . . . your turkey is ready when a small incision between the thigh and the breast reveals a clear juice. If the liquid appears pink, keep cooking and try again on the other thigh.
Turkey Gravy is easily made using roux – a mixture of equal parts of butter and flour – but if you have had a poor experience with lumps in your gravy from roux, try using cornstarch stirred to a paste with a small amount of cold water. If you don’t have time to make a turkey stock for your gravy, use chicken stock instead. Even canned stock will create a wonderfully flavorful gravy when mixed with the turkey drippings. Pour chicken stock into the turkey roasting pan and simmer, allow time for the stock to absorb the turkey flavor, strain and thicken with your cornstarch paste or roux.
Remember, there is never too much turkey . . . Thanksgiving leftovers make great quick meals for another day – try Turkey turnovers, turkey corn chowder, Turkey Pot Pie, and turkey croquettes . . . just to name a few.
Another easy way to plan a most enjoyable meal is to join us at Stroudsmoor Country Inn for Thanksgiving dinner where the turkey is always golden and you never have to clean up after your guests.