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

c oliver Nov 28, 2008 05:15 PM

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. c
    Chefsquire RE: c oliver Nov 28, 2008 07:10 PM

    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. c
      cimui RE: c oliver Nov 28, 2008 08:17 PM

      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
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        Densible RE: cimui Nov 28, 2008 09:44 PM

        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
          c
          classylady RE: Densible Nov 29, 2008 10:20 AM

          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.

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        Steve RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 04:17 AM

        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
          v
          Val RE: Steve Nov 29, 2008 05:26 AM

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

          1. re: Val
            c oliver RE: Val Nov 29, 2008 06:57 AM

            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
              v
              Val RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 08:04 AM

              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
                Ruth Lafler RE: Val Nov 29, 2008 08:14 AM

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

                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                  coll RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 29, 2008 11:58 AM

                  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
                  s
                  sheiladeedee RE: Val Nov 30, 2008 03:10 AM

                  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
                    Chris VR RE: sheiladeedee Nov 30, 2008 04:42 AM

                    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
                lynnlato RE: Val Nov 29, 2008 08:18 AM

                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
                  Sam Fujisaka RE: Val Nov 29, 2008 01:40 PM

                  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
                    v
                    Val RE: Sam Fujisaka Nov 29, 2008 01:50 PM

                    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 case...you all seem to have had success with this flipping thing!

                    1. re: Val
                      Sam Fujisaka RE: Val Nov 29, 2008 01:57 PM

                      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
                        v
                        Val RE: Sam Fujisaka Nov 29, 2008 02:54 PM

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

                        1. re: Val
                          Davwud RE: Val Nov 29, 2008 03:02 PM

                          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.

                          DT

                      2. re: Val
                        g
                        gardencub RE: Val Nov 29, 2008 04:47 PM

                        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
                      s
                      Steve RE: Val Nov 29, 2008 07:30 PM

                      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
                      lynnlato RE: Steve Nov 29, 2008 08:16 AM

                      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. chicgail RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 09:04 AM

                      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. JoanN RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 09:22 AM

                        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
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                          mordacity RE: JoanN Nov 29, 2008 09:28 AM

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

                          1. re: mordacity
                            JoanN RE: mordacity Nov 29, 2008 10:35 AM

                            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.

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                          amazing grace RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 10:42 AM

                          Me too! I love this site. Have lurked for a long time. Finally decided I needed to contribute something and that I should start with something I learned that helped us have the best and most moist roasted turkey in a very long time. This time we put the meat thermometer into the stuffing cavity, let it get to 160-165. It worked perfectly, a beautiful, golden bird. Thank you for all of your help.

                          1. d
                            dhedges53 RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 10:54 AM

                            Iced down the breast laying the breast side down on some ice bags, and cooked in a bag to a thigh temp of 165 degrees. Picked that tip up on PBS Test Kitchen. Breast was cooked and moist. Not as moist as a fried turkey breast, but better than any I've ever cooked in a roaster or roaster pan.

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                              another_adam RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 01:25 PM

                              Not a CH rec, but we followed the Bittmann tip for doing Braised Turkey instead of cooking a whole bird. Deconstructed turkey is definitely a great idea for us, since it allows us to cook a lot more dark meat than white-- and braising with pork products turns out to improve things even more! The idea was to brown the thighs first and then throw into a shallow braising pan (how I normally do chicken anyway). They came out looking better than the picture, and nice and crisped up and falling-apart tender :) Will definitely do this recipe again, and maybe even skip doing the white meat altogether next year.
                              (It did require a bit of advanced planning, though, since stores around here run out of non-whole turkey parts by early Saturday morning the week before Thanksgiving, so this can't be done at the last minute)

                              1. Davwud RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 01:52 PM

                                Wild Turkey should be drank, not cooked.

                                DT

                                1. operagirl RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 04:00 PM

                                  Spatchcocked the turkey, a la Mark Bittman's video segment this week in the nyt.com food section. Brilliant! It came out moist and cooked in so much less time.

                                  1. j
                                    Joebob RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 10:24 PM

                                    We did Bittman's "deconstructed" turkey and it was a crowd pleaser.

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                                      Joebob RE: c oliver Nov 29, 2008 10:27 PM

                                      P.S. We just bought a whole turkey, cut it up, and roasted/braised the drumsticks and wings instead of the two extra thighs. I was stressed enough without searching for extra thighs, etc., etc.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Joebob
                                        Romanmk RE: Joebob Nov 30, 2008 12:16 AM

                                        I made Julia and Jacques deconstructed turkey. The breast roasts on a mound of cornbread stuffing. Boned and stuffed thighs roast separately and turned out perfectly. Using the backbone plus trimmings for turkey stock, to reduce and make gravy, was excellent. My DW said it was the best gravy ever.

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