Category Archives: Turkey Recipes

Father’s Day Dinner – 5 Grill Favorites

Father’s Day, falling as it does on a temperate mid-June Sunday, is the perfect time to get out the grill. No matter who is handling the chimney starter, these five recipes for a grill-centric meal will make for a delicious and special Father’s Day celebration.

Five Grill Favorites for Father’s Day

Dad will absolutely love these delicious yet healthy Grilled Turkey Burgers from Bon Appetit. Made with cheddar and smoky aioli (a kind of homemade garlicky mayonnaise), these burgers don’t skimp on flavor, seasoned with cumin, coriander and smoked paprika (I recommend the incredibly flavorful Spanish paprika from Penzeys).

Photo by Nigel Cox for Bon Appetit

Photo by Nigel Cox for Bon Appetit

Is your dad more of a rib guy?  Father’s Day is a special occasion, after all. Recently I picked up some country-style ribs to try as an alternative to our bone-in barbecue favorites slathered with sauce.

In its recipe for Barbecued Country-Style Ribs, Cook’s Country has some excellent tips on how to keep the cooking even between the white and dark meat.

From Cook's Country

From Cook’s Country

“We brined the ribs so that the white meat would stay juicy and pounded the ribs to an even ¾-inch thickness to “break down” the fattier dark meat,” writes the Cook’s Country test kitchen. “As for flavor, a double layer of barbecue spice and sauce and a quick smoke on the grill turned these ribs into something to sing about.”

Whatever meat you put over the coals, combine it with Charros, or smoky Tex-Mex beans. Steve Raichlen has a recipe for these “soulful, spicy pinto beans” seasoned with onion, bay and cloves, finished with bacon, jalapenos and fresh cilantro.

Charros from Primal Grill

“Don’t be surprised by the soupy consistency of the beans,” Raichlen writes. “Charros are always served with lots of flavorful broth.”

Spring has been slow to come to our part of the country, so we’re still in asparagus mode. Luckily, it’s a one of my favorite things to grill and an early summer favorite.

For Father’s Day I might dress them up with this Gourmet recipe for Grilled Pancetta-Wrapped Asparagus by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez.

photo by Ditte Isager

Photo by Ditte Isager

For a decadent and special finish to your Father’s Day celebration, try grilling peaches.

The first time I ever attempted the recipe below to make caramel, I meant to drizzle it over ripe, juicy grilled peaches, a finishing touch to a dinner party with friends.

I followed the New York Times recipe for Grilled-Peach Sundaes With Salted Bourbon-Caramel Sauce almost to the letter, though in my nervousness about the temperature, I pulled the caramel before it got really brown.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

I didn’t make that mistake the second time. When it got really, well, caramelized, this syrup was easily the best “candy topping” I’ve ever made. Heck, for a simpler dessert, ditch the grilled peaches and just make this caramel. Spoon it on store bought ice cream and it’ll be the best dessert dad’s had all year.

One final note: If dad loves to grill, one of my favorite cookbooks for cooking on the fire is Weber’s excellent “Way to Grill” (Sunset Books, 2009). It’s full of big color photographs, step-by-step illustrated demonstrations and practical advice. At about $17 on Amazon, it’s a Father’s Day gift that begs to be paired with some grilling tools and/or a homemade meal from you.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads and Dad stand-ins who make all the difference in our lives!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

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Five Great Mexican-Inspired Dishes for a Summer Party

As the days get longer and the sunset stretches on well past dinner time, all things Mexican-inspired start to sound irresistible. Guacamole with fresh tomatillos, agua fresca, mushroom chile tacos topped with pickled onions and jalapeños — and who can turn down a fresh margarita or a crispy, indulgent tostada?

These five recipes can serve as the cornerstone of a late afternoon Sunday supper, or make them all and invite some friends to sit around a backyard fire. Salud!

Turkey Tostadas

9-Black-Bean-Tostada

From Coupon Clipping Cook

If by chance you have a gift certificate for turkey or ham still lingering in your wallet, you’re in luck this summer — according to About.com’s Chelsie Kenyon, “turkey is actually indigenous to Mexico and was a part of the Aztec diet along with tomatoes, squash and sometimes iguana.”

Tostadas are among the most forgiving of Mexican dishes, stacked like nachos on a crispy tortilla with everything from refried beans to fresh cilantro. Try Rachael Ray’s recipe for tostadas topped with black beans, corn and shredded turkey, with cheese (cotija is excellent), sour cream, lime and chipotle sauce for extra kick. A little avocado wouldn’t go amiss here either.

Queso Fundido with Chorizo

Some recipes don’t need any translating. That’s the case with this rich, gooey cheese dip, spiked with serrano chile and studded with fresh Mexican chorizo sausage.

queso-fundido-646

Photo by Romulo Yanes for Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit’s recipe combines Monterey Jack and cheddar with beer (they say a lager, like Corona), minced onion, tomato and fresh oregano.

Served hot out of the oven or in a fondue pot with some good tortilla chips, it’s a can’t-miss party appetizer.

Ham and Cheese Torta

A torta is basically a Mexican sandwich, a crusty white roll piled high with meat (steak, chicken, pork, chorizo) and the classic trimmings you’d find on a taco or tostada, like queso fresco (a mild white cheese) and pickled onions.

It’s also a great vehicle for ham, as made clear in this simple recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table. Made with refried beans, avocado, queso fresco, fresh tomato and fresh onion as well, these ham tortas would make an excellent weekend lunch.

For more inspiration, see a slide show of 10 fantastic tortas on Huffington Post Taste. Fried egg, spinach, pork belly and roasted jalapeño? Si, ¡dámelo!

Pozole

20090610182812Pozole (or posole) is a Mexican stew made with tender, slow-cooked pork, hominy (corn without the hull, soaked in lye), fresh chiles and lots of toppings. You can slurp it with a spoon or pull out the meat and toppings and wrap them in fresh tortillas.

A classic version is Rick Bayless’ white pozole with all the trimmings, which calls for three kinds of pork (shank, trotters and bone-in shoulder) and is best made on  a weekend, when there’s plenty of time for a slow simmer.

Or try Marcela Valladolid’s recipe from “Mexican Made Easy” on the Food Network, a beef shank version that’s faster and simpler.

One Great Margarita

Margarita on the rocksThe perfect margarita doesn’t come from a mix, use bottled lime juice or require freezing and blending. No, the perfect margarita, as printed in Imbibe Magazine, is simple and fresh, the ideal thing to celebrate the coming of summer.

Make this correctly, and everything else on the table will taste even better. The salt on the rim is optional.

Makes 1.

  • 2 oz. silver tequila (or reposado if you like)
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
  • Ice cubes
  • Tools: shaker, strainer
  • Glass: double rocks
  • Garnish: lime wheel and salt (optional)

Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish.

What to Serve at Your Holiday Party: Turkey or Ham?

A perfectly browned turkey or a glazed holiday ham, sliced into layers like the petals of a flower. Either makes for a crowd-pleasing main course, ample enough to feed a crowd, with leftovers to spare.

But when you’re hosting a holiday gathering (that isn’t Thanksgiving — turkey has the clear edge there), which do you choose for your centerpiece? What makes better appetizers for a cocktail party?

If your gathering is less than two weeks after Thanksgiving, everyone might be happier with ham. A spiral-sliced, smoked bone-in or boneless ham comes already cooked, so all you have to do is warm it up, glaze it and serve.

Hosting a cocktail party? For appetizers, ham is a little more decadent than turkey.

For example, I served ham and cheese puff pastry squares (recipe by Ina Garten on the Food Network) for my New Year’s Eve party in 2010. They were finger food, easy to make and fantastic with sparkling wine.

Ham and rice croquettes are a tiny bit more fussy because they require frying, but reviewers of this Gourmet recipe raved about them. “Superb! One of the easiest apps to please a wine-swilling crowd,” wrote one; another said, “My guests really loved them.”

For a Spanish flare, try Spanish-style garlic shrimp with ham and bell peppers, which is a “great tapas or appetizer with crusty bread.”

If you have picky eaters or anyone who keeps kosher on the guest list, go with turkey. Turkey offers white meat for the dieters and dark for everyone else, and most flexitarians make an exception for fowl.

If you choose, you can even roast a smaller bird (though the leftovers are so good, that’s a hard argument to make).

Credit Elinor Carucci for Bon Appétit

For appetizer portions, Jennie-O is a font of great entertaining ideas based around turkey, like pesto turkey pinwheels and smoked Gouda and turkey dip.

These turkey pockets are made super easy by the addition of premade dough.

For something different in the weeks following Thanksgiving, try something more exotic on your turkey. Asian flavors are awesome with the neutral flavors of turkey breast meat — check out the cinnamon-orange scented turkey from Rick Rodgers at Bon Appétit (the “dry brine” salt includes star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, clove, coriander and fennel).

Joanne Chang’s recipe for a turkey glazed with soy, sesame, honey and ginger, found in Food & Wine, will banish memories of Thanksgiving from your holiday gathering. Also intriguing is a recipe for a teriyaki glaze on the turkey and shallot gravy to finish.

Credit Con Poulos for Food & Wine

Whatever you do, be sure to save some leftovers for yourself! Enjoy.

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Five Fresh Ideas

The turkey has been cooked and carved. The mashed potatoes are packed away, the pie decimated, the football games concluded. The relatives have either decamped for home or are napping, sedated by carbohydrates.

Now comes the best part: Leftovers!

Leftover roast turkey is a marvelous thing. This year, go beyond even the perfect turkey sandwich with these five simple recipes.

1. Jambalaya from Food52

Jambalaya on Food52

Jambalaya is the ultimate one-pot rice meal, accommodating everything from spicy sausage to shrimp, crab meat and scallops. This version on Food52 incorporates “the trinity” (onion, green pepper and celery) with andouille and cooked turkey; you can substitute any beer, long-grain rice and Cajun seasoning you like.

2. Turkey and Ham Pie on The Splendid Table

This, according to “Plenty” author Diana Henry, is the perfect dish for the day after Thanksgiving when you have leftover turkey and ham. Seasoned with nutmeg and made using premade puff pastry, it’s as comforting as it is filling.

3. Cheesy turkey quesadillas with spinach and mushrooms from “Bay Area Bites”

With creamy Monterey Jack cheese pulling together cooked mushrooms, spinach and leftover turkey in small corn tortillas, these quesadillas from Kim Laidlaw are simple, delicious and weeknight-dinner-fast.

4. Turkey and Rice Biryani from “City Kitchen” in The New York Times

For David Tanis, author of “A Platter of Figs” and author of the New York Times’ City Kitchen column, leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving. “With broth made from the turkey carcass and a pile of meaty leg meat (use the white meat for sandwiches), all that is necessary is a handful of spices and some good basmati rice,” he writes.

Asian Turkey-Noodle Soup photo by Scott Peterson

5. Asian Turkey Noodle Soup with Ginger and Chiles from Bon Appétit

Ginger, fish sauce (which provides umami, a savory flavor) and fresh toppings like bean sprouts, mint leaves, serrano chiles and fresh lime make this a kind of faux-pho, with preparation cut to mere minutes with premade turkey stock and already-cooked turkey.

If this doesn’t leave you thoroughly inspired, The New York Times’ Mark Bittman has a whole range of ideas for clearing out the turkey (and stuffing, and your fridge. The best-looking among them: Turkey Salad with Scallions and Spicy Mayonnaise, Pan-Fried Stuffing Cakes and Garlic-Rosemary Potato Fritters.

Enjoy your leftovers!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

How to Carve a Thanksgiving Turkey: Good Tools and Confidence

Carving a turkey for the first time can be a truly imposing task. In the same way that little Cornish hens or poussins are like miniature versions of familiar roast chicken, a turkey looks like that chicken on steroids. All other considerations aside, most turkey is huge.

But the encouraging fact is, even though your Thanksgiving turkey is significantly bigger than a chicken, the process of taking it apart is largely the same.

Tools

To carve a turkey, you need a few basic tools:

  • A large cutting board, preferably one with drainage grooves or a “well” around the outside to catch drippings
  • A sharp knife — some like a long carving knife, others prefer a chef’s knife
  • A carving fork
  • A warm patter, to put the carved meat on
  • A warm pot of turkey stock nearby, to moisten the meat before it goes out (optional)

From Flickr.com

Tips

First, don’t carve your bird at the table. It’s messy. Present the bird to the dining room table if you must (although before dinner, doesn’t everyone hang around in the kitchen anyway?) and then return to the kitchen to carve.

Second, let the bird rest for around 30 minutes before carving. (Longer is usually fine; just stick the platter in a warm oven when you’re done carving.) Resting time is important because it allows all those good juices to re-infuse the meat. Carve too soon and you’ll have a dry bird (and also a very hot one, which makes it harder to carve).

Step-by-Step

These are just the basics, based on how we carve. Refer to the pros (see video below) for other methods, all of which work. For a photo step-by-step, check out this post on The Huffington Post.

1. Remove the drumsticks. My husband sometimes removes the thigh and leg pieces together, separating them after they’re off the bird. Holding the drumstick vertically, cut the meat off in bite-size pieces.

2. Remove the wings.

3. Separate the breast halves. Cut the breast meat horizontally, creating slices at whatever thickness you like.

4. With the large pieces you have, cut as much good meat off as you can. If you like, save the bones for stock and the drippings for gravy.

From The Huffington Post slide show.

Watch and Learn

Alton Brown at the Food Network presents How to Carve a Turkey

How to Carve a Turkey at Martha Stewart Living‘s “Everything Thanksgiving”

Cook’s Illustrated video: Carving a turkey

The Butcher Carves a Turkey” by Craig Duff, The New York Times

With the right tools and your new knowledge, carving your Thanksgiving turkey should be both straightforward and easy to manage.  All the best for a very happy Thanksgiving!
The gThankYou! Team

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Looking for Thanksgiving Recipes? Start Here

The holidays can be a thoroughly overwhelming time — even when they technically haven’t started.

Getting a sense of your Thanksgiving Day feast menu in advance can ease the stress of the day, and ensure you’re not quick-thawing a 20-lb. turkey the day you plan to serve it.

A home cook might compile recipes in a Word document (as I have done for years, with a fair amount of success). Even simpler, some of the sites below will make up a menu for you.

One Epicurious app for Android allows you to choose the recipes you want to make, and then puts the ingredients from each one into a shopping list. So easy.

1. Epicurious is a great place to start for Thanksgiving recipes. I like the handy timeline; a list of budget-conscious, American wine recommendations; suggested tools; and tons of recipes from Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Sunset Living and more.

I love the suggestions from fellow cooks — you can click on helpful reviews and have them print along with the recipe, a great tool — and I love this Thanksgiving menu planner.

It asks six simple questions — like: How many people are you serving? Do you want something traditional, modern, exotic? Do you want the dishes to be healthy? — and then spits out a menu (I got “Ted Allen’s Modern Thanksgiving“) you can reject or accept.

gThankYou! Ginger Pumpkin Pie by Cooking Light

Cooking Light’s Ginger Pumpkin Pie
Photo by Charles Masters

2. If this is your first Thanksgiving at the stove, check out Cooking Light’s Thanksgiving for the Novice. Their suggested lineup is basic: creamy salsa dip, sausage and mushroom stuffing, honey-roasted sweet potatoes, classic pumpkin pie. But there are also dozens of fun, approachable and often health-conscious feast day recipes to be found here, including ideas for cocktails, “perfect” pies and what to do with leftovers.

3. A new site for me, and the one I’m using to plan my own meal this year, is Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs’ Food52. There are ideas for how to dress up your Thanksgiving table, an approachable how-to for the Russ Parsons dry-brined “Judy bird,” and contests among home cooks to find the best recipes for Thanksgiving staples like mashed potatoes.

Recipes that are currently catching my eye: cider-glazed sweet potatoes with bacon, pecans and blue cheese (below); beer-and-bacon glazed collard greens; crispy delicata squash rings with currant, fennel and apple relish.

If you like a recipe, you can click the button with the little turkey on it that says “Add to My Menu” and it pops the recipe into a Thanksgiving file. I love this.

Photo from SuperStarter on Food52.

4. A few other sites to try include Martha Stewart Living’s Everything Thanksgiving (it does literally look like EVERYTHING, from appetizers and side dishes to fall centerpieces and projects for the kids).

Thanksgiving Turkey Cake at Chow.com

I like the practical thrust and the nice visuals at the Food Network, which is a great place to find themed recipes for a Paula Deen-style Southern menu or a failsafe batch of ideas from science guru Alton Brown. If you want how-to videos, this is also the best place to start.

Finally, if you like moral support in your cooking adventures, start with the Thanksgiving recipes at Chow, the site connected to the active Chowhound forums. Search the Home Cooking board before you ask your question; chances are, it has been asked (and answered, in detail) before.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving Recipe sources?  Happy Cooking!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Five Ways to Add Flavor to Your Thankgiving Turkey

Turkey by itself — especially the breast meat — doesn’t have a ton of flavor and can run a little dry. For the best-tasting, juiciest turkey, most birds need a little help.

Here are five ways to add richness, spice and excitement to your Thanksgiving turkey.

Photo via Indulgy.com

1. Brine it. The white meat of turkey is not naturally  juicy. To add both moisture and flavor, soak the bird in brine the night before you plan to cook it. It works wonders.

There is a fair amount of internet buzz for Alton Brown’s five-star-rated Good Eats Roast Turkey, which as of this posting has 4,007 reviews on Food Network. To make his brine, you basically make a tea using kosher salt, brown sugar, vegetable stock, peppercorns, allspice and candied ginger. Cool it down and then soak the bird in the mixture for 8 to 16 hours.

The results? See the reviews: “A HUGE hit,” “soooooo easy,” “awesome turkey flavor, mild, subtle, and what Thanksgiving is all about!”

2. Inject it. You can buy pre-injected turkey, though some are wary of these — a whole frozen turkey from Butterball, for example, includes “modified food starch, sodium phosphates (and) natural flavorings.”

Williams-Sonoma Flavor Injector

You’ll know exactly what’s in the injection if you do it yourself. Granted, this requires some tools, but those who tried Brian Page‘s butter-injected turkey with thyme gave it “four forks” out of four on Epicurious.com.

“By putting the butter inside of the turkey it makes the turkey moist inside,” wrote one reviewer. “When the butter comes out into your water it makes it good for basting, because it helps brown the skin on the outside. I also use poultry seasoning, putting some on the inside and out.

3. Rub spices on the skin. Add flavor fast with a simple spice rub, which can range from basic to bold. One Cooking Light recipe packs tons of flavor, with cumin, coriander, oregano, sage, thyme, dry mustard and a little brown sugar.

Saveur has a recipe for a beautiful chile-rubbed Mexican turkey, involving toasted pasilla chiles, 30 cloves of garlic, orange juice, olive oil and honey.

Chile-rubbed roasted turkey. Photo by Landon Nordeman for Saveur.

4. Spread herb butter under the skin. No time to brine? This is a great last-minute technique that you can easily adapt for roast chicken, too.

Both Ina Garten and Martha Stewart offer step-by-step instructions for making a compound butter (with chopped herbs and lemon zest), then (in Martha’s case) loosening the skin of the bird and slathering the slightly softened butter underneath. Ina gets brown skin by brushing the melted butter mixture on top.

5. Stuff it. Take a lemon or an orange, a quartered Spanish onion or a full head of garlic, a bunch of rosemary or a few sprigs of thyme, and shove them into the cavity of the bird. (Apples are delicious, too.) This perfumes the meat lightly. Garlic left in its papery skin emerges melting and sweet, amazing spread on crusty bread.

Happy Cooking! Let us know what you do to make your Thanksgiving Turkey it’s flavorful best.

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Choosing the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

It used to be that every Thanksgiving table proudly bore a Butterball, fat, browned and juicy. But with a growing interest in sustainable food culture and heritage breeds making a comeback, the choice of a Thanksgiving centerpiece has become a bit more complex.

How to Choose the Perfect Turkey

Here are the basics:

Turkey, plain and simple: Commercial turkeys have been bred for a white-meat market, which means they’re big on size but skimp on flavor. Most common in the grocery store is the Broad-Breasted White, bred to grow fast — they’re ready for sale in just 14 weeks, according to Cook’s Illustrated. (Heritage breeds can take up to eight months to be ready for market.)

While they’re the cheapest option, “commercial birds grow so fast, they don’t have time to accumulate much flavor,” Cook’s Illustrated writes. That makes them prime candidates for brines, spice rubs and smoking.

Natural: This weak label doesn’t mean much, except “no artificial ingredients” including flavor, coloring and preservatives. There are no regulations about how the turkey is raised or what it’s fed. Not generally worth any extra cost.

Free-range: According to the USDA, “free-range” indicates a bird that was not raised in a cage and had access to the outdoors (even if that’s a little door across a crowded henhouse). Raising a turkey free-range is generally considered more humane and healthy. Available at specialty markets, farmers’ markets and bigger grocery stories, free-range is a good option if you don’t want to spring for organic.

Certified Organic: Certified organic turkeys are free-range, free of antibiotics and fed an all-vegetarian diet of organic grain and pesticide-free grasses. They’re expensive, but many cooks say they’re worth it, both for the benefits to the environment and for superior taste.

Heritage turkeys: At top dollar ($100 for a big bird) heritage turkeys are older breeds making a comeback. According to the food-centric radio show The Splendid Table, flavors are more distinctive than a supermarket turkey, but expect more bone to meat and less fat.

A heritage bird won a Cook’s Illustrated turkey tasting for “excellent flavor,” but tasters were unsure whether it was worth more than four times the price of a supermarket turkey.

Lynn Rosetto Kasper says don’t brine a heritage bird — just slow-roast it and make a pan gravy to moisten the meat.

Self-basted (or pre-brined): Turkeys that are “self-basting” can be a time-saving choice for a busy cook, since the brine/marinade — a solution of salt, butter or oil, as well as herbs, spices and other preservatives — has already been injected into the meat.

This saves the trouble of shoving a big turkey into a bag of brine, but you run the risk of a mushy texture and odd flavor.

If you definitely don’t want a self-baster, check the label and make sure the only ingredient is “turkey.”

Kosher: A kosher turkey has been prepared under rabbinical supervision under Jewish dietary law. For practical purposes, kosher turkeys are covered in kosher salt, then rinsed several times in cold water. According to Epicurious, this results in “juicy, flavorful meat,” though you may have to pull out a few extra feathers; the “koshering process makes them harder to pluck.”

Note: Don’t brine a kosher or pre-brined turkey; it will be too salty.

Let us know what type of Turkey you choose for this Thanksgiving feast!  

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

The Secret to a Perfect Holiday Turkey: Dry Brining

Every November, people wrestle bulky birds into bags of brine, slopping all over the kitchen and making a mess in the name of a more tender turkey.

No more.

Wet brining — making a solution of water, salt, herbs and spices in which the turkey would sit for 12 to 24 hours — is undoubtedly a fine way to infuse flavor into a conventional store-bought turkey (most of which have been bred for size, not taste). But dry brining is so much simpler, and the results are so consistently good, that there’s no shame in taking the easy way out.

A dry-brined turkey, called “The Judy Bird” after Zuni Café owner Judy Rodgers, who pioneered the technique. Photo credit Food52.

One of the first chefs to introduce the idea of a poultry dry brine into home cooks’ regular rotation was Judy Rodgers, owner of Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. In “The Zuni Café Cookbook” (W.W. Norton & Co., 2002), Rodgers wrote that the brine on a small roasting chicken “improves flavor, keeps it moist, and makes it tender.”

Applying salt in advance at first draws moisture out of the bird, but over time it draws it back in again, resulting in much juicier meat. When talking to home cooks who attempted her method, Rodgers reported that “the results are startling and delicious when they prepare a chicken this way in their gas or electric ovens.”

To dry brine your turkey, begin the Sunday night before Thanksgiving. Just before roasting, give it a few hours uncovered in the fridge so it dries out (that will help the skin get golden brown).

Credit: Washington City Paper

Measure one tablespoon of kosher salt for every five pounds of turkey (for a 15-pound turkey, that means 3 tablespoons). Sprinkle the salt all over the outside of the turkey and lightly on the inner cavity. It should look well-seasoned but not over-salted. (With chicken, I sometimes add pepper or other seasonings here — thyme and rosemary are lovely, as are blends like za’atar and an ancho chile combination.)

To store the turkey, you can put it in a sealable plastic bag, or simply cover it with a towel. It should be breast-side up; turn it occasionally.

When you’re ready to cook, give the turkey about an hour to come to room temperature. Then roast as usual — Rodgers recommends a higher heat, about 425°F, rotating midway through to make sure the skin gets evenly browned.

Find other converts to the dry-brine method at the LA Times, Food52 and Martha Stewart Living.

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Thanksgiving Dinner Planning Starts NOW: Mining the Food Magazines

It’s time. The Thanksgiving-themed glossy food magazines have arrived!

I love these covers. The birds themselves are always quite beautiful, burnished golden and ornamented with grapes and figs and sprigs of thyme. (I’ve decided not to worry about what advanced techniques may have made them so attractive. Food photography is a magician’s craft, and it works like magic — good enough for me.)

This is also where being a minor magazine collector comes in handy. Every year I return to my growing stash of Thanksgiving-themed mags, finding new inspiration and ideas. My personal favorite: Bon Appetit, November 2009 (top row, center):

I know, they all kind of blur together, don’t they? Here are a few of my favorite recipes (with more to come!) to help you get started planning your Thanksgiving feast:

Salted roast turkey with herbs and shallot-Dijon gravy, by Rick Rodgers, Bon Appetit, November 2008: This is hands down my favorite way to prepare Thanksgiving turkey.

Photo by Tim Morris for Bon Appetit

The salt dry rub is much easier than a wet brine (no watery mess!) and the rosemary, sage and thyme are a classic holiday combination that make the meat incredibly flavorful. Read the comments for more ideas and tips, but you really can’t go wrong here.

Salted roast turkey with orange, fall spices and sherry gravy from the same issue uses the same technique, but with an Asian twist; spices include star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, clove, coriander, fennel seed, cinnamon and orange peel.

Roast heritage turkey with bacon, sage and herb butter; Bon Appetit, November 2008: It’s the compound butter that makes this bird, studded with thyme, sage, lemon peel and applewood-smoked bacon. You can change-up the recommended vegetables (onion, celery, fennel, carrots and apples) with whatever you like best.

Photo by Elinor Carucci for Bon Appetit

Shown above, sourdough stuffing with sausage, apples and golden raisins by Jeanne Thiel Kelley; Bon Appetit, November 2009: It’s important to use a good hearty sourdough here, ideally from a bakery (not the grocery). Let it sit out for a day or two before assembling this dressing. Tart baking apples are best in this.

Roasted brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds and vanilla pecan butter, from “Throwdown with Bobby Flay (episode: Thanksgiving Feast, November 2010): I know the combination of cabbage-y brussel sprouts and sweet pecan butter seems weird, but trust me. This will change your life. (And as a bonus you end up with pomegranate molasses, which is truly amazing on ice cream.)

Photo by Randy Mayor for Cooking Light

Brussels sprouts with crisp prosciutto; Cooking Light, December 2003: An easier take on the sprouts. Sub bacon if necessary.

Butternut squash and cheddar bread pudding, by Molly Wizenberg; Bon Appetit, November 2oo9: A perfect main dish for the vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table, this wonderful recipe combines sharp cheddar cheese, Tuscan kale and lots of eggs for a divinely rich entrée.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing ideas for green salads and sweet potato side dishes and exploring the many aspects of your holiday turkey, from brining to carving, plus the best recipe sites and who to ask for help.

For more magazine recipe testing, check out the guys at The Bitten Word. Each year they do a “Fakesgiving” where they invite over family and friends to try out holiday recipes from that year’s food magazines. It’s pretty great.

What are some of your magazine recipe favorites for Thanksgiving?  Be sure to check back as we will have more to share!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick Kiley, Chief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC