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Guide to cooking Thanksgiving Turkey

on November 21, 2020

We will all be celebrating Thanksgiving in a different way this year. Personally, I will miss my family and the fabulous Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s house, but everyone’s health is more important.  We will probably have a virtual toast together this year and look forward to when we can all reunite for hugs, kisses and our mother’s lasagna.

Meanwhile, reality sets in…it has been a long time since I cooked Thanksgiving turkey.  How about you?

I put together a list of tips and ideas for preparing and cooking turkey.  And, I shared a delicious recipe for turkey liver mousse, that is one of the parts you find inside the turkey pouch, yeah, the parts you throw out.  Recipes for leftover turkey too, enjoy!

Purchasing Turkeys:  Purchase a smaller turkey.  The larger the turkey, the tougher the bird.  If you purchase a frozen turkey, remember it will take a few days to thaw out completely.

Preparing your turkey: Remove turkey from plastic wrap – write down how much the turkey weighs, so you can calculate how long it will take to cook.   (20 minutes per pound, in a 325 degree pre-heated oven)

Remove the paper/plastic giblets pouch from inside the turkey.  It contains liver, gizzard, heart and neck, set aside.  I put the neck in the roasting pan, it gives more flavor to the pan drippings.

Pat the turkey dry (I use paper towels).  Rub about 1-2 Tablespoons of Kosher salt inside and out of the turkey.

Place turkey in a roasting pan.  To avoid burning the turkey and stuffing, put a piece of aluminum foil over stuffing and place turkey on a roasting rack on the bottom of the pan.  If you want to baste the turkey before you place it in the oven, gently separate the skin from the flesh and fill the space in between with a compound herb butter (see recipe below)….ahhh, self-basting, this means more time for you, and that’s always a plus!!!!Place this compound butter underneath the skin, instead of on top.

Compound Butter Recipe: Bring 1/2 stick of salted butter to room temperature.  In a medium sized bowl.  Add butter and chopped or ground herbs like parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, or marjoram and mix until all incorporated.

Stuffing your Turkey? If you fill your turkey with stuffing it can become a harbinger of germs, when checking turkey’s internal temperature, remember the stuffing should read 165 degrees too.

The day after Thanksgiving has the highest incidents of food poisoning at hospitals. Click here for FDA Guidelines on handling Turkey.

Below are some clever ideas for the liver and leftovers.

Turkey Liver Mousse Crostini Recipe: Remove turkey liver from pouch that is inside the turkey. Remove the connective tissue, they look like pieces of string.  Cut up liver into bite size pieces, it will cook faster.  In a small frying pan, over medium heat, sauté 1 medium onion and 2 Tablespoons of butter until soft and caramelized.  Add 2 Tablespoons of brandy and cook until evaporated, be careful this is flammable.  Add turkey livers and cook all the way through.  Add liver mixture to a small food processor along with 1 Tablespoon of capers, 1 Tablespoon of parsley and 1 Tablespoon of heavy cream and whip until smooth.  Toast a few baguette slices, add a teaspoon of turkey liver mousse and top with cranberry relish. **(Lala, can you add link for cranberry relish here please)

Turkey Salad Recipe: Combine, 2 cups of diced turkey, 1/2 cup sliced grapes, 1/2 cup diced celery, 1/2 cup mayonnaise (if too thick, thin it out with a little milk), 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.

Thanksgiving Panini/Sandwich idea: Slice down the turkey and use it for sandwiches, start off with either a crispy Italian roll or two slices of cranberry nut bread, add turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and Gouda cheese.

Turkey Escarole Soup: Place the turkey bones in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add 2 diced carrots, 1 large chopped onion, 2 ribs of sliced celery, 3 peppercorns, 3 sprigs of flat leaf Italian parsley, including stem, and 3 bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 hours, skimming the top of the soup.  I add a small piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind to the soup, it adds a great flavor.

Strain soup and return it to a clean stock pot, add 3 sliced carrots, 1 head of escarole (rinsed and trimmed to bite-sized pieces) and 2 Tablespoons of chopped parsley.  Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes.

Taste and adjust salt.  Then, raise heat to high and bring soup back to a boil, add Pasta (pastina, orzo or alphabet pasta) and cook until pasta is done.  Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.

Below are recipes for this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner – enjoy!

Recipes: Cranberry, Orange and Ginger Relish,,  Hearty Mashed Potatoes, Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing, Green Beans Almandine, Autumn Salad with Cranapple Vinaigrette .

Do you still feel a little anxious, maybe have a few questions? Well, feel free to contact me at chefjacquie@streatsofphillyfoodtours.com

From our table to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Chef Jacquie

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