Tag Archives: Cook’s Illustrated

Ham FREE eBook: Spring Ham Primer

gThankYou! is excited to announce our free eBook,
“A Spring Ham Primer”.

gThankYou! Spring Ham Primer

Click Image to Download!

We believe a glazed ham is the perfect centerpiece for a spring party or holiday celebration. If you’ve never cooked one before, gThankYou! is here to help with this quick step-by-step guide on how to cook your ham, as well as suggestions for side dishes and additional places to look for great recipes.

Novice or seasoned pro, you’ll find useful tips and resources in this handy Ham Primer.  gThankYou! Ham Gift Certificates are a popular employee gift this time of year.  Share this free Primer with recipients, include one of our free personalizable spring-themed enclosure cards and make your Certificate of Gratitude gift truly special!

Here’s a peek at our “A Spring Ham Primer” Table of Contents:

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. How to Choose and Cook a Spring Holiday Ham
2. Great Ways to Glaze
3. Recipes
4. Super Side Dishes for Spring Ham
5. Resources

Download your free copy now by clicking this link:
“Spring Ham Primer”

For more recipes and “how to” posts about Ham, be sure to check out the links to these popular gThankYou! posts.  More posts are available under the “Ham Recipes” category so check them out and let us know what you like!

More Ham Posts!

Please enjoy your new Ham Primer and let us know about your spring ham feast!

Bon Appétit !

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 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.

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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.

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.

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