Hi everyone and welcome to this frigid Thanksgiving edition of Chop Talk.
We just want to thank everyone who came out to the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland. We had a great show and our Ergo Products were a big hit! In this edition of Chop Talk we are all about Thanksgiving! First up is tips on making the perfect holiday turkey from the Gourmet Guy, Louis Luzzo, who gives us a delicious cranberry sauce recipe. Next, we have a special Chef’s Spotlight on actress Kelly Le Brock, who also graces us with a simple green bean side dish recipe. Last but not least we have our Gourmet Store Spotlight Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond with two stores in Connecticut. Take advantage of savings with our Black Friday Sale and Cyber Monday Sales SAVE 20% on all product when you purchase from our website here online, Friday, November 28, 2014 and Monday, December 1st, 2014.
Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips
Making the Perfect Holiday Turkey
by Louis S Luzzo, Sr.
Roasting a turkey during the Holidays can either make or break a successful meal. Like many at home cooks, I have a few horror stories of the days before I became the self proclaimed, “Gourmet Guy.” I am going to give you some fool proof rules-of-thumb and methods to insure that your Thanksgiving meal comes off as a complete success that will wow your guests. From the Menu Planning, to Proper Seasoning , to how to pick the right turkey, we’ll take a look at all the basics.~ Lou
How big of a turkey should I roast?
Most importantly, we need to count the amount of guests we will be serving. A good rule of thumb to go by would be:
~One (1) pound of raw turkey per person which includes a moderate amount for leftovers.
~1 1/2 pounds per person, if you have hearty eaters or want ample leftovers.
~3/4 pound of whole turkey per person for no leftovers.
To properly thaw the turkey (if frozen), we recommend leaving it in the refrigerator for 4-5 days to slow thaw under a cool temperature. If you are pressed for time, you may place it in a sink or a container in the sink and run cold water over it for a few hours. Once the bird is thawed, you are ready to prepare it for cooking.
Not every home cook will go the extra mile at home, but I found that brining your turkey can incorporate a great level of flavor and make your turkey extremely moist. I typically brine most poultry and pork before cooking, and have made several different types of flavored brines. A brine by definition is; a strong solution of water and salt used for pickling or preserving foods. A sweetener such as sugar or molasses is sometimes added. I really enjoy molasses and brown sugar and balance it out with some savory herbs, bay leaves, peppercorns and garlic. Depending on the size of the bird, you can brine a turkey for a few hours, or even let it go overnight. But, it is very important to remember that the brining solution is high in salt and you must adjust and lessen the amount of salt you use in your seasoning when you prepare your turkey for roasting.
Seasoning & Prepping the Bird
The next step can be a lot of fun, as you get to be very creative with seasoning and preparing your turkey. Seasonings offer a great deal of flavor and can be as simple as salt and black pepper, or as elaborate as Cajun spice or a rub consisting of garlic, chilies and dried herbs. Be sure to rub the entire cavity with your seasoning blend of choice, and always lubricate the outside of the skin with oil or butter so the seasonings will adhere and cook into the bird.
*Tip For Crispier Skin
Crisp skin and a moist center is what we all desire when roasting the perfect turkey and I have learned a little trick to enhance the outer skin. Carefully lift the skin up around the bird and slide a few pats of softened butter underneath. Generously rub the outer skin with butter and your seasonings, and let them sink in for about an hour before roasting. Many family recipes include stuffing the bird with all kinds of aromatics or even a traditional bread stuffing. It is totally up to you to decide which way you want to go, but stuffing a turkey’s cavity can really enhance the flavor of the meat. It’s important to have a good carving set and Ergo has you covered. just click the link to see more about Ergo’s Carving Set
Stuffing & Dressing
There are two schools of thought when it comes to stuffing; In the Bird (stuffing) and & Out of the Bird (dressing). In my house we make both, or sometimes do a Cornbread Oyster dressing as well. In some households, the turkey is stuffed with other birds; a boned chicken is stuffed into a boned duck, which is then stuffed into the turkey.
Roasting Your Turkey
So, now that we are ready to roast, how do I know how long it should cook for, and how high the temperature should be? USDA says that a turkey should not roast under 325 degrees Fahrenheit, so that’s a fair starting point. Approximate cooking times for an unstuffed turkey are as follows: (it is around 20 to 30 minutes per pound)
~10 – 18 lb bird 3 to 3 ½ hrs
~19 – 22 lb bird 3 ½ to 4 hrs
~22 – 24 lb bird 4 to 4 ½ hrs
~24 – 29 lb bird 4 ½ to 5 hrs
One helpful hint to achieving a nice golden skin, is to start the “searing” process by cooking it in a 400 – 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size) to start the browning process (sugars begin to caramelize), then lower the temperature to 325 degrees and slow roast for the appropriate time. Basting is another way to impart even browning and to distribute some of those great flavorful juices. You may baste with the juices found in the bottom of the pan, or use some type of fat.
Also popular, is to baste with another flavorful liquid, for example a brown stock fortified with apple cider vinegar and herbs. If the bird begins to brown too much, you may cover it with aluminum foil until it has reached doneness, and then finish for the last few minutes uncovered. Be careful not to cover the bird entirely, as you don’t want to steam the turkey.
How do I know if my bird is done? The USDA recommends that the turkey be cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees as measured in the innermost part of the thigh. If the thigh is 165 degrees, the breast meat is likely to be 10 degrees hotter. Many cooks would tell you that a turkey roasted to those temperatures is overdone and would taste unacceptably dry. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness, try not to rely on those “pop up timers” that come with most turkeys. You can also prick the leg joint with a fork, and if the juices run just slightly pink or clear, the turkey is done.
To test the accuracy of your instant read thermometer, insert the tip about 2 inches deep into boiling water. At sea level it should register 212 degrees F. If it does not, replace it; or if it has a calibration device, reset it for accuracy. Nobody wants an overcooked bird, so start checking your bird about 3/4’s of the way through the total recommended cooking time.
Time to make the gravy! On the stove top, use the same pan that you roasted this delicious turkey in. The drippings and leftover fat and liquid are going to make this gravy a very tasty one. I like to use a ratio of 1 Tablespoon of fat to 1 Tablespoon of flour to create a “roux” that will thicken my gravy. You can use chicken or turkey stock, or even just deglaze with sherry or white wine and add water. Just be sure to cook out the flour so it doesn’t leave a raw taste to the gravy. Season to taste.
Turkey is done, gravy is ready and now it’s time to roll out all the fix-ins. Cranberry sauce, sweet potato pie, cornbread stuffing, yams, green beans, creamed onions, apple and pecan pie are just some of my favorites! Try something new this year and let me know how it comes out! We all have a lot to be thankful for and I am very blessed with such wonderful family and friends. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving.
Interview excerpt courtesy of the blog Kitchen Rap with Louis S. Luzzo, Sr. Click the link to read the full interview.
“With Kelly’s Kitchen, Kelly is all about healthy eating and good healthcare, starting in the kitchen, at the table. “It came about within the last four years,” she offered. “I am just horrified at the way people are eating and I really want to get out there and show people how to make a delicious meal out of a bag of beans or a bag of brown rice. It doesn’t have to be expensive to eat well. Yes it is expensive in time, but that is something that people have come to confuse with eating healthy being expensive in dollars. Seems that people don’t have time anymore,” she lamented, “but you can make a decent meal in 30 minutes. Families should have to drop their phones in a little basket when they come through the door and sit down every night at the dinner table and look at each other. Really talk to each other.”
She has lent her voice and become an ambassador for a cause she believes in, foodtweeks™ and has re-emerged from a self imposed cocoon with a new-found, vibrant voice. “It’s time to give back,”she declared. “We don’t need to leave our country to help people, they are right here in our face. I know what it’s like to struggle for food or not have enough to eat. There are people in this country a paycheck away from hunger. I am the ambassador for this great new app that is affiliated with 50 food banks across the country. The beauty of it is that there are people who are always trying to get healthy cutting calories, they take those calories and put them into foodtweeks™ and those calories go into the food bank and translate to available food.” For every calorie users “tweek” from their food, foodtweeks™ makes a donation to a local food bank so they can distribute the same number of nutritious calories to feed a hungry child and their family. There’s no cost of any kind to the foodtweeks™ user and it’s easy for food banks to participate. You remove calories. They give them away!” Find Kelly on Social Media; twitter: @KellyLeBrock, @AtKellysKitchen
Sauteed Green Beans Courtesy of Kelly Le Brock
20 oz bag of french green beans(if using fresh beans us a good handful per person)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsp butter
Salt to taste
If using fresh beans, remove the ends and julienne. Place beans in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove immediately and place in an ice bath to stop cooking keep color. On the stove top, heat a cast iron skillet. Place butter and garlic and sauté until garlic is translucent. Add green beans and sauté for another minute until beans are heated through. Remove,place in a bowl, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt to taste and serve.
Old Fashioned Cranberry Sauce Courtesy of Louis S. Luzzo, Sr.
Place all ingredients in a sauce-pot, except for the cranberries and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, add the cranberries to the liquid. reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5 minutes until all of the cranberries have “popped”. Remove the cinnamon stick, and cool. The liquid will be loose and will thicken once it cools.
Gourmet Store Spotlight
Founded in 2001, Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond, formally Chefs Equipment Emporium of Wallingford, opened its doors to the public as a kitchenware specialty showroom retailer that prides itself on quality, affordability and accountability. At Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond, they are passionate about cooking and understand your need for reliable, long-lasting and high quality kitchenware.
With an additional expanding of products offering to meet all your kitchen needs, Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond also offers commercial and residential cookware, cutlery, bakeware, small kitchen electrics, gourmet food and ingredients and Kitchen Tools, Utensils, gadgets and more gadgets. Their wide selection along with their friendly, well-trained staff ensures that they are your authority for cooking, dining and entertaining.
They are a customer focused, family owned company serving the Connecticut area and beyond! Their friendly and knowledgeable staff is always on-hand to help you navigate your way through the thousands of unique items they offer in order to make your next culinary adventure the greatest yet!
If you have questions that their website does not address or items that you cannot find, you can call them at 860-828-9601 or email them at info@Kitchengadgetsandbeyond.com. Visit their two locations:717 Berlin Turnpike, Berlin, CT 06037 (860) 828-9601 ~ 920 South Colony Rd, Wallingford, CT 06492 203-269-3971 and follow them on facebook here.
Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale
Save 20% on all Ergo products on our Black Friday Sale, November 28, 2014 and Cyber Monday Sale, December 1, 2014 when you purchase online at www.ErgoChef.com.
From all of us at Ergo Chef, we wish you and yours a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving.
Till next time,