so i sit here trying to think of what people always want to know, but i find myself stumped and at a loss for words, but i know there have to be things out there. so i a going to start with a few basics that will help you thins holiday season and if you find yourself thinking, "how do they do that?!?!" then don't be shy, ask and i promise to tell you the best that I can.....because folks, i'm back or at least i'm trying to be!
first things first- if you are going to cook a turkey you need to know 2 things:
#1) BRINE that bird, it tastes WAY better
#2) DO NOT over cook it, take it out when the juices run clear or use a thermometer you should take it out around 165 and let it rest to 180, don't slice it right away, let it rest so the juices stay inside and don't end up on the kitchen floor!
#3) ok i have a few more things, you can stuff the bird, you won't kill anyone, you just have to temp the stuffing to make sure it is 165 degrees too, believe you me, its worth it!
#4) to get GREAT flavor in your turkey, rub it down with butter- take 1 stick of butter and your favorite fresh herbs (mine you ask- thyme, tarragon, cilantro & oregano) and some salt & pepper, mix it all up then get your hands dirty lift the skin away from the meat, GENTLY and rub the butter down in there as far as you can. This does 2 things, helps to crisp the skin, and flavors the meat....nothing wrong with ANY of that!
1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup granulated sugar
5 ea. black peppercorn
1 ea. dry bay leaf
2 ea. sprig thyme
can brine over night, for a normal turkey you may need 2 gallons worth
MAKE SURE YOU COOL IT DOWN BEFORE PUTTING THE BIRD IN!
1/2 c butter, softened
1 sprig thyme, chopped
2 sprigs oregano, chopped
1 sprig tarragon, chopped
3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1 glove garlic, choped
mix it all up!
Really good for garlic bread too!!
Part 2- Tricks to a GOOD gravy!
#1) Use the juices from the turkey, do whatever you can to save as much of the juices as you can!
#2) use roux not cornstarch (what is roux you ask, oh i will tell you!)
#3) save some potato water (don't worry i'll get there)
#4) don't be afraid to use herbs and SALT, and my fav, black pepper!
What is a Roux (pronounced Ra-OO)
Well it is a beautiful mixture of fat and flour that can be used to thicken sauces, soups, stews....
just about anything!
that is the basics, but if you really want to make it taste good, you get FANCY!
cooking bacon or sausage for something, save the fat ad a little bacon fat to the roux, WAY better.
so here is how it goes
put your cold butter in a pan, let it melt
then stir in your flour until it is the consistency or wet sand
(you will know it when you see it)
once you put in the flour you need to keep stirring so it doesn't burn, you want to cook it for a few minutes just to make sure that the fat &strach and bound and won't break, but don't let it get color.
(*** SIDE NOTE: if you want to make creole food and need to thicken your sauce, they use a DARK roux which is made by cooking your roux for a while so the flour can toast...
it would be the color of milk chocolate..just and FYi***)
The important thing about using roux is you need to know that when you add it to your liquid it needs to come to a complete boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes just to ensure there is no flour taste left.
How to make the gravy:
Collect all the turkey juices you can, put them in a pot
if you need more gravy you can use chicken stock
(what you need to do is, but in double the amount you think you will need and then let it reduce so you can get a better flavor!)
Also add the 1 cup of potato water you saved because the potato starch will give your gravy a silky texture.
then add 2 tbsp. butter
some fresh herbs like thyme and oregano if you have some left
fresh black pepper to your liking
and salt, bring to a boil
and whisk in the roux
add it a Tbsp at a time until it is the thickness you like
it will need to boil before it begins to thicken
and stir regularly so the bottom doesn't burn...
Hope that makes sense!
Hope this helps all of you on your Holiday cooking Adventure!
I know its 2011 and people these days seem to be going out more and more, but honestly cooking with the family is some of my fondest memories....you will remember them for a life time. No better time to learn to cook than now, but by all means if you want to go out and make people work on there holiday, be my guest, but me (its my birthday) so i will be celebrating our freedom, my birth, and playing games till i can't take it anymore...i love the food, the way it smells and even when its not great i love the laughs...so do my a favor and just try, and if you fail have a back up plan, but cooking is only as scary as you make it!