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Nov 28, 2008 05:15 PM

What was the best tip you got for T'giving cooking?

You folks held my hand while preparing for a "traditional" dinner. We usually do a SW version. Of all the great info and advice I got, perhaps the best was to prepare the mashed potatoes the day before and then reheat on low in the slow cooker. That is brilliant! Anybody else want to share the best tip you got? I felt like I had a bunch of friends and neighbors supporting me during this. Thanks a million.

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  1. I've done this for years, but for mashed butternut squash, rather than peeling and cubing the squash before boiling and mashing, I roast it and scoop out the flesh. Simply cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with evoo, season with salt and pepper, and then roast, cut side down, in a hot oven. When it is completely softened, I just scoop out the flesh and mash it up. The roasting adds a nice depth of flavor you dont get from boiling the squash.

    1. agreed: chowhounds posted so many great tips i don't know where to start! the most innovative (to me) one was the tip about the overnight cheesecake recipes baked at 200 degrees. as promised, i ended up with no cracking and a delicious, moist cheesecake. thanks, chowser!!

      2 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        Making the gravy the night before-really took the edge off!
        Taking the turkey out of the oven when thigh was 160 degrees-perfectly cooked-not a min ute past done. I dry brined too and thought it was much better result than my usual wet technique -turkey texture and amazing flavor and tender.

        1. re: Densible

          making the gravy the next day after by separating the giblet soup and the turkey fat and gravy. Then getting rid of most of the fat from the turkey leftover gel and adding 1/4c of flour,. The broth was then added to make a smooth gravy.

      2. Cooking the turkey breast side down. This is a very easy and forgiving way of cooking a turkey. No need to baste or tent the turkey. Just flip it breast side up for the last hour to brown the skin.

        16 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          Is flipping the bird a difficult task? (heh, I don't mean the hand signal..LOL!) How do you accomplish it?

          1. re: Val

            Usually we do the bird on the Weber but did it in the oven breast-side down this year. Got the instructions from Best Recipes. Since our bird was almost 18#, we did it breast down for 3 hours at 250 basting once an hour. Then took it out of the oven and using "wads" of paper towels, picked it up and turned it. Super easy. Then another hour at 400. Smaller birds had a slightly different approach. It was perfect. Breast meat SO moist.

            1. re: c oliver

              Thanks, it just seems like it would be such a hot, slippery and heavy item for one person to flip over...also seems like the skin would tear...but apparently not. Will try it for Christmas dinner! Also, does it matter if the bird is stuffed? oy, would make it even heavier if nothing else.

              1. re: Val

                It doesn't matter if it's stuffed, but it *is* slippery and heavy, so you have to be careful

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I got a Popeil rotisserie machine years ago as a housewarming gift and the best thing about it is the heatproof plastic gloves that came with it. Never could flip the turkey, or even get it out of the pan, without a mess before. I was just thinking today where I could get another pair when the time comes to replace them.

                2. re: Val

                  I always cook my bird breast down, and use a clean pair of potholders to do the flipping. You have to be careful, but it does work so very well...

                  1. re: sheiladeedee

                    We did the flip as well. I've always done that with chickens too, but the skin has stuck a bit. This time I noticed that Fanny Farmer recommends placing a heavily buttered piece of parchment paper on the rack and that worked perfectly to avoid the skin tearing. As for the "how", we used a hook from the pot rack to grab the metal "handle" that's stuck into the turkey and it did the trick very nicely!

              2. re: Val

                We didn't have a difficult time w/ it, personally. We had a roaster pan w/ rack and it came w/ two wide but short forks (think pitch forks). Thanks to those two forks it was quite easy.

                1. re: Val

                  I use two heavy, short wide forks, move carefully and deliberately, press in evenly and with force from both ends and turn over all in one motion while standing in a semi-crouch. I few small holes is less important than a possible falling and sliding stuffed bird.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Well, but...I have to ask...don't the forks pierce the meat and bleed out all those great juices that you need? Maybe not in this all seem to have had success with this flipping thing!

                    1. re: Val

                      Yes, it is a trade-off: loose some juices (that don't go to waste) or use some towels and risk ripping off the crispy skin, alowing hte rest to slide - dropping the whole affair and having it swish down the length of the kitchen leaving a trail of grease and tears while knocking over innocent bystanders and childern along the way, tilting out the stuffing, grabbing a leg of the falling bird, ripping it from the body along with all of the skin, .....

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        hahaha! Sam, yeah, I'm analyzing it too much...I just need to TRY it!!!! Thanks!

                        1. re: Val

                          Hey Val

                          Get yourself a pair of silicone oven mitts. Perfect for this type of thing. You do need to be careful. Perhaps get someone quite strong (If you aren't).

                          They also come in handy when making stock. You can grab the side of the pot with your hand down almost in the stock and and tip it. Just rinse and dry.


                      2. re: Val

                        a piece of meat is not a balloon that will be popped by poking a hole in it. A few holes will cause you to loose some juice, but the idea that ALL the juices will run out is erroneous but seems widespread.

                        While you should not poke holes in your meat willy nilly, a few fork holes are not going to ruin your roast.

                    2. re: Val

                      I had a 15 pound turkey, unstuffed. To flip it, I poke a long handled steel spoon into the cavity, lift it up, and spin it around. A bit clumsy, but it works.

                      Also, I ball up some aluminum foil and place it under the side of the breast in the roasting pan so that the brest side doesn't lose its shape.

                      I cooked the turkey at 325 for 2:45 and then flipped it. To accomodate a pie we were baking, I turned up the heat to 400 and cooked it for another hour. Normally, I'd just keep it at 325. As long as the breast side is down, no basting or tenting necessary. I think that turning up the heat on the breast made it brown better.

                    3. re: Steve

                      I did this too and my turkey was cooked perfectly. I cooked at 450 degrees and started breast side up and flipped it half way through the cook time. Then, for the last 10-15 mins, I flipped it back to breast side up. Not sure if the fabulously moist turkey was a direct result of the flipping or the high heat (probably a combo of both) but I was pleased w/ the results.

                      2nd best tip: a few splashes of Myer's dark rum in my sweet potatoes - oh yea baby. :)

                    4. Cranberry sauce with pears poached in strong, sweetened (and vanilla-ed) coffee. Cut up the pears into small pieces and mix with the cranberries cooked according to the package recipe. I could have made twice as much.

                      1. Thank you SSqwerty for the tip on reducing by half the amount of sugar in the Epicurious Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Zinfandel. We loved it, my mother especially, but I don't think we would have if we'd used the full amount of sugar.

                        Not a CH tip, and one I'd known before but forgotten, is to put the top crust of the pie in the freezer for five minutes before positioning it. It makes it easy to place it exactly in the center and it keeps the decorative vent holes (I use a tiny heart-shaped truffle cutter) from streching out of shape.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: JoanN

                          Huh. I always cut my vent holes after the top crust is already in place.

                          1. re: mordacity

                            That's fine if you're just making slashes in the top crust with a knife. But if you're making decorative cutouts, it's easier, and much neater, to do on a baking sheet than on the pie itself. Something solid beneath the crust allows you to make a clean cut through the dough and you can then lift out the cut-out part with the tip of a knife.