Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Turkey Tips / Quick and Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipes

We got so involved testing Christmas cookie recipes yesterday that I forgot to blog!

Hoping you'll forgive me, I am putting up TWO Thanksgiving postings here today to make up for yesterday's omission.

The cookies, by the way, were oh, so yummy. You'll get a big batch of easy cookie recipes (that come out looking like you fussed all day) after Thanksgiving.

So here we go!

First - Let's Talk Turkey !!


Let's Talk Turkey
Pro tips for tender, flavorful birds


Ask a hundred cooks how to prepare a great Thanksgiving turkey and you'll get a hundred different answers.

Here's a condensed version of the tips we got when we asked professional chefs for their secrets to a tender bird.

(The only thing every chef agreed on is that the turkey must be moist and flavorful!)
Choose one tip or try several.

1. Brining
Soaking a raw (fresh or thawed) unstuffed turkey in salted cold water before cooking was the most popular tip this year.

Use one cup of Kosher or plain (not iodized) salt per gallon of tap water needed to completely cover the turkey. Soak two hours. Drain, rinse well and stuff or not as you prefer and roast at 350 degrees till done.

2. Bag Roasting
Lots of chefs swear by the turkey roasting bag. The turkey comes out moist and the oven stays clean of splatters.

For the home cook, turkey roasting bags are readily available in every grocery store this time of year. Follow package directions. The pros say to put some celery and onions in the bag under the turkey to elevate the bird off the bottom of the pan. They say this keeps the bottom of the bag from sticking to the bottom of the cooked bird.

3. Upside Down Roasting
Another tip is to cook the turkey breast side down in a V shaped roasting rack. The idea behind this trick is that the juices will run into the breast meat keeping it moist. Be sure to coat the rack with cooking spray before positioning the turkey.

4. Turkey Frying
Sounds unbelievable but some pros swear by this technique because it's such a fast, flavorful cooking method. A whole, unstuffed turkey is deep fried in peanut oil using a special outdoor cooker.

There are some draw backs like the turkey can not be stuffed, the wings get too dry to eat and there are no pan juices to make gravy but none the less the outdoor turkey frying is developing a following.

Cook's tip: Frying a turkey is messy and potentially dangerous. Children and pets must be kept far away. You must watch the turkey the entire cooking time in case of fire or mishaps. Hot oil (and you'll have a lot of it) takes several hours to cool down and then must be discarded.

5. Charcoal Grilling
Don't put away your charcoal grill yet. Several chefs told us they grill their turkeys and people LOVE them.
Here's how: Salt and pepper your unstuffed turkey. Wrap in foil and place in a heavy pan. Place pan over coals heated to medium and cover grill. Roast about 5 hours for a 30 pound turkey. During the last hour, pull back the foil to let the turkey brown.

Cook's tip: Do not stuff your turkey when charcoal grilling.

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Easy Home Made Cranberry Sauces to Tempt and Tease

Skip that canned cranberry sauce for an easy, home made one. Almost faster than opening the can and once you make your own, you'll never go back.

Now's the time to buy extra bags of fresh cranberries and tuck them into the freezer for cranberry treats till cranberry season rolls around again next Thanksgiving.

No Cook Fresh Cranberry - Orange Relish
For best results, prepare this the same day you're planning to serve it.

Makes 3 cups

1 (12-16 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1 large, thick skinned orange (like a navel orange)
1/4 cup - 1 cup sugar (to taste)

Wash cranberries. Drain. Remove stems and shriveled berries. Wash orange, scrubbing skin well. Cut orange into random chunks. Remove and discard any seeds and white center core. Leave skin on fruit. Using the food processor, pulse cranberries and orange pieces together until finely chopped. Do not puree. Remove mixture to a bowl and stir in sugar to taste. Refrigerate until serving.

Apricot, Cranberry and Pecan Chutney
A glistening compote and perfect accent to turkey. Prepare up to 1 week in advance and keep refrigerated.

Makes 4 cups

1 (12-16 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup apricot brandy (or 1/4 cup additional water)
1 (7-9 oz.) package dried apricots
1/2 cup pecans halves

Wash cranberries. Drain. Remove stems and shriveled berries. If apricots are small, leave whole. If they are large, cut them in half.

Put sugar, water and apricot brandy (or additional water) into a medium pot. Cover. Bring to a boil. Remove cover. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries and apricots. Cook till cranberries pop and apricots soften - about 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked fruit and put into a heat safe container. Continue cooking syrup until it reduces by half - about 10 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over cooked fruit. Stir to coat. Cool to room temperature (about 1 hour) then stir in pecans. Refrigerate until serving.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

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