Tag Archives: Turkey Recipes

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.

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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.

Olympic Hosts Talk Turkey…or Ham

The summer Olympics are long over (though our fascination with Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt may endure). But let’s not turn away from Britain just yet.

gThankYou! Turkey Sweet Leek Pie

Turkey Sweet Leek Pie
by Jamie Oliver
Photo by David Loftus

Some UK chefs, notably the glamorous Nigella Lawson, school food activist Jamie Oliver and the approachable, affable Simon Hopkinson, have excellent ideas for making the most out of fall and Thanksgiving inspired cooking.

1. London-born Nigella Lawson, the TV show host, chef and celebrated author, has one of the most approachable, entertaining voices of any cookbook writer I’ve ever encountered. Her Ultimate Greek and watermelon/feta salads here on from “Forever Summer” are almost literally addictive — I made one or the other nearly every day for an entire season. “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” (Hyperion, 2001) gave me an amazing apple walnut cake and transformed the way I make brownies.

For those new to entertaining, “Feast: Food to Celebrate Life” (Hyperion, 2004) is a reliable place to start, with ideas for everything from Thanksgiving and Christmas to a first “meet the parents” dinner. Try her recipe for “Spiced and Super-Juicy Roast Turkey,” made with cinnamon, caraway, allspice and cloves, whether it’s a holiday or not.

gThankYou! Book Cover of Roast Chicken and Other Stories

Cover, “Roast Chicken and Other Stories”
By Simon Hopkinson

2. London and BBC Food chef Simon Hopkinson is so enamored of roast chicken, he named a book after it. A mash-up of anecdotes and recipes, “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” (Hyperion, 2007) combines influences from world cuisines, including Turkish, French and Spanish food, with British classics, like his mom’s potato cakes.

Each chapter has an ingredient for a title, like anchovies, garlic, scallops, endive, chocolate and, of course, chicken. I can’t wait to try his recipe for pancakes with Parma ham and asparagus, perfect for early fall when the long, green spears are briefly back in season.

Find his deceptively simple, butter-rich recipe for roast chicken at Serious Eats.

gThankYou! Roasted Marmalade Ham

Roasted Marmalade Ham
By Jamie Oliver
Photo by David Loftus

3. From Britain’s favorite Naked Chef to the food revolutionary of rural America, Jamie Oliver has kept at the core of his career the basic, home-cooked meal. With ingredients like lamb shank, mussels, pork and potatoes, he makes British cooking seem both easy and delicious.

Even beginners can enjoy his straightforward recipe for Roasted Marmalade Ham (from “Jamie’s Dinners,” Hyperion, 2004). Or put Thanksgiving leftovers to use in his turkey and sweet leek pie.

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 free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo, and 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.

Winning 4th of July Grill-outs!

While summer is often thought to be the season of lighter fare, one look at a typical cook-out proves this conventional wisdom false. Calorie laden burgers, sausages and the cold treats and beverages that accompany them are typical menu items at many back-yard barbecues and neighborhood grill-outs.

For a winning July 4th grill-out, add tasty options that are not so heavy. turkey burgers and marinated turkey tenders have proven to be real crowd pleasers. There are many ways to customize either dish. Turkey Tenderloin can be grilled alone, or in a festive kabob-style with vegetables of your choice while many flavor enhancers liven up turkey burgers once thought as bland.

For best flavor, use lump charcoal if you’re grilling on a Weber or other charcoal grill. It produces higher heat and gives food a great smoky character. Soaked mesquite wood chips will produce a similar smoky flavor if you prefer to use a gas grill. Both of these are now widely available at many grocers.

Get inspiration with these ideas to create your Best July 4th Cook out with tasty turkey burgers and tenders:

Share with us your winning 4th of July grill tips. And Happy July 4th from all of us at gThankYou!

Go Big with Grilled Turkey

Summer arrives – regardless of the weather outlook – this weekend with Memorial Day. That means cookouts, barbecues and outdoor get-together season will also be in full swing. For my money, there’s no better way to feed a crowd and put on a memorable Memorial Day cook-out than by grilling a turkey.

Grilled turkey makes a big splash for several reasons.

  1. It’s delish, regardless of the recipe you choose. This is the top way to make the tastiest turkey ever.
  2. It’s special. A real departure from the burgers and dogs on most grills.
  3. It’s dead simple. Again, regardless of the recipe, grilling your big bird is easy on the cook, so you can enjoy your holiday.

Grilled turkey has proven to be a real pleaser at our summertime gatherings. Fire up the grill and get ready for the cook-out season ahead with these ideas:

Send in your best tips on turkey grilling. And if you have a favorite rub or other way to prep your turkey for grilling, share that, too. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Turkey Sandwich Top Ten

A colleague this week told me his family decided to celebrate Thanksgiving at a restaurant this year. It was great, he said, because no one had to cook or clean. But (here comes the lament) no one had Turkey Dinner leftovers, either.

What a pity. Some of the best meals we have all year make good use of Thanksgiving leftovers. But the best of the best – and why I will year after year roast, grill or otherwise cook a Thanksgiving turkey – are the fantastic turkey sandwiches.

More people use leftover turkey and other Thanksgiving fixings in sandwiches, making them into treasured gourmet meals.

In honor of favorite Turkey Sandwiches all, we present our picks for the Top Turkey Sandwiches of all time.  It’s a virtual Hall of Fame of favorite sandwiches made to be served for lunch or dinner, some hot some cold.

  1. Hot Turkey: An open-faced sandwich using the favorite bread of your choice (we like top-quality rye) accompanied by leftover mashed potatoes and/or stuffing. The entire plate is smothered in gravy.
  2. Homage to Thanksgiving Monte Cristo:  We alter this All Recipes version using a layer of leftover stuffing in between two generous layers of turkey surrounded by bread, pan fried in Panko Bread Crumbs. Yum.
  3. Turkey, Brie & Pear: We usually have a cheese board at our gathering with Brie. I fell in love with this delicious sandwich combo last year and it quickly became a favorite. If you find yourself with leftover Brie, I can’t think of a better use for it.
  4. Turkey Picadillo: This is a version of Turkey Barbecue that will feed a family. Substitute leftover turkey for the ground turkey and let it simmer a slow cooker.
  5. Gourmet Turkey Sandwich: It’s so much fun using fresh cranberry sauce (this year’s version courtesy the Barefoot Contessa), in sandwiches. Years ago, we discovered what a great sandwich condiment cranberry sauce makes. Add the cream cheese and grainy mustard  and it’s a truly gourmet sandwich.
  6. The Leftover: As demonstrated by this recipe on wikiHow, people put all manner of leftovers together to create the perfect concoction. Stuffing is great. We also like to do sweet potatoes as a layer (cranberry sauce, turkey and sweet potatoes). Experiment with what you have left over and Viola! You have your own new favorite.
  7. Turkey Cheddar Apple: We like to serve this grilled. Grilled or not, you can not go wrong pairing tart apple with tangy cheddar and turkey!
  8. White Bread -n-Mayo: This version is done with Hellman’s on Challa bread. I add iceberg lettuce for a distinct crunch.
  9. Turkey Bacon Swiss: A variation on the BLT. Serve it grilled if you like your sammies warm.
  10. Turkey, Pesto and Provolone: Adapted from Emeril and posted on the Big Fat Sandwich site. Pesto as a condiment is vastly underrated, and pairs very well with turkey, whether you decide to press the sandwich (as in this recipe) or not.

Customize by using your favorite bread, but always choose quality bread for the best leftover turkey sandwiches. Add  your favorite fresh veggies, too. Don’t have leftover turkey? No problem. Roast a small turkey. That’s what my friend who ate Thanksgiving at a restaurant did!

Turkey Day Lists (and Apps) We Love

At one week to Thanksgiving, I’m all about the list. Every year I rely on them to guide me through the process of planning and implementing our favorite family gathering. I even save them from year to year to help me remember which sides we  switched and how big our turkey was, etc.

Why keep lists? Simple. Thanksgiving done well involves organizational know-how and moxie. This is no time to fly by the seat of your pants, folks. My standard set of checklists: Shopping, guest and menu.

My Thanksgiving list obsession is not that unusual. Consider these list suggestions:

This year, I’m also trying out a few apps, eager to see how they can help. I’ve downloaded iFeast,  and CHOW’s Thanksgiving Coach for starters. I’ll give you my thoughts post Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, here are some reviews on the best Thanksgiving Apps:

And, just for fun, here’s McSweeney’s archived list of Thanksgiving Lists with such favorites as “Unpleasant Questions to be Asked at the End of a Meal,” and, “Reason for Celebrating Every Major Holiday with the In-Laws, According to my Mother-In-Law.”

Enjoy! And please add your best list tips and Thanksgiving app suggestions.

Are you a Turkey Traditionalist?

This year, for no particularly compelling reason, more friends are talking about bucking the traditional Turkey Dinner menu for something completely different. How different? Courses of gumbo and fish have been mentioned.

Guess it depends where you stand on messing with a good thing. But if you’re seeking to put your own signature on this menu or perhaps venture from the hum-drum, I’d argue that you needn’t veer far to add your own splash to a Thanksgiving meal.

As pointed out in this New York Times piece, Chefs’ Tips for the Thanksgiving Meal, Boredom, in any event, is the enemy of all cooks, and of all successful Thanksgivings. In cooking and serving Thanksgiving meals, restaurant chefs say, they must balance tradition against stasis, their own style of cooking against the desires of the customer.

Here are some ways how:

1. Take a tip from vegetarians.  Yes. You read that right. And, no, I’m not talking Tofurkey. Vegetarians know how to make the best veg dishes. If that mini-marshmallow crusted sweet potato dish and green bean casserole are not your thing, there are many better ways to serve up your veggie sides. The New York Times’ Well blog offers a Vegetarian Thanksgiving Series with great recipes and tips.

2. Explore your culinary roots, or adopt some with fascinating food history:

  • Again, from the Times’ Well blog, Joan Nathan offers dishes from the Jewish-French tradition perfect for Thanksgiving. I’m tempted to try the Alsatian Pear Kugel with Prunes.

3. Take a tip from Oprah and do Turkey your way.

  • Try Oprah’s Turkey Pot Pie
  • Or if gumbo how about Turkey Gumbo? This version courtesy of Emeril Lagasse.
  • Prepare your turkey on the grill, a great way to add a twist to tradition. And, yes, this is even possible for a Thanksgiving in Minnesota. I’ve seen proof. The National Turkey Federation has a great how-to.

There’s really no end to how you can customize your Thanksgiving Day menu, without veering far from tradition. Share your favorite ways with us here.

Top Tools for Turkey Day

Each year, we add one new fancy kitchen tool to our cupboard around Thanksgiving time. It’s when we’re doing a lot of cooking where special hardware can come in handy. Plus, there are things that are really necessary for cooking a great Turkey Dinner that are nice to have around, even if we don’t use them in our every-day meal prep.

I do have some criteria on what is a good fit for a good, new kitchen tool. There are a lot of frivolous gadgets out there that don’t really help much. And thanks to TV chef Alton Brown’s crusade against kitchen unitaskers, there’s a much better idea out there of just which tool is worth your hard earned money, and kitchen shelf space.

Three of the first tools we collected are highlighted in this recent Life360 Thanksgiving blog post.

  • Roasting pan (with good rack): Those aluminum pans at your grocery store will do in a pinch. But a solid roasting pan is one of the key essentials to roasting a nicely browned Turkey in your oven. Many high-quality roasting pans come with a good, non-stick roasting rack. If it doesn’t, this is also a must-have.
  • Digital, remote meat thermometer: Assures a hassle-free, nicely cooked Turkey every time. But research them well and plan to spend money if you can. We went through three name-brand models before finding a digital remote thermometer that has lasted and worked properly.
  • Fat separator: We make gravy about once (maybe twice) a year. This tool is indispensable to making it well. Plus it has a cool food science look to it. It parts the turkey juice from the turkey fat when you pour off pan drippings from roasted Turkey (or other meat). There’s really no other way I know to get this task done efficiently without getting any of the stuff you don’t want into your gravy boat.

Some tools that we have collected and consider essential are not mentioned. One of them is a mandoline slicer, an indispensible time-saver and the best way to evenly slice squash for the traditional Butternut Squash Gratin we serve. A food mill or potato ricer is also a must for making the creamiest mashed potatoes.

There are many lists out there, some more basic than others. But most have the right idea. For example, if you don’t own a carving knife or large cutting board, and you’re going to be carving your first Turkey later this month, now’s the time to shop for that. Here are a few lists to check :

Other lists feature tools I’d skip:

But where kitchen aids are concerned, the value is in the eyes – and hands – of the beholder.  We’re on the fence this year about buying turkey lifters resembling small pitch forks. What kitchen tools are essential for your Thanksgiving Day success?

At Newsstands Now: Turkey!

Over the years, I’ve become a collector of holiday-themed food magazines. Only the newest issue of my favorite food pub du jour helps infuse fresh ideas into our menu as we start thinking about Thanksgiving each year. 

From the current look of the newsstands, it’s time to pick an issue for this year as well as  pull out my favorite standbys from years past. In the checkout line yesterday, five brand new editions of food monthlies called out, each one decked out with a tempting image of a gorgeous Holiday Turkey.

I’m not alone in my love of collecting holiday food pubs, as evidenced in reviews by number of bloggers. Here’s a roundup of some favorites.

Like me, the Postmodern Hostess finds it hard to resist Thanksgiving magazines. Her picks for this year’s crop? Based on recipes she flagged, Tanja liked Food & Wine, Food Network Magazine, Taste of Home’s Healthy Cooking and Martha Stewart Living. As she notes of Taste’s Healthy Cooking:

“Another great magazine. I’ve never bought Healthy Cooking before, but I really enjoyed it. See all those flags up top? Lots of great recipes to be found here, including some good non-dairy ideas and recipes that would be tasty year-end. As with most of the magazines above, the Thanksgiving recipes themselves weren’t terribly voluminous, but it’s definitely quality over quantity with this one. And they’re all lower fat than traditional recipes, which just makes their stock rise even more with me.”

The Bitten Word has a handy “recap and roundup” of food magazines. They’ve  cataloged and an astounding 172 recipes from 2009 issues with more from 2008 as well, if you want to access them online. Or, search your local second-hand book shop or eBay for print editions of these back issues.

For even more vintage stock, the Washington Post offers a 2007 Thanksgiving Magazine extravaganza. The Post graded top publications from that year on criteria including theme, cover, recipe count and relevancy, how-to tips, among others. With an overall letter grade of B+, Martha Stewart Living rated the best of that crop, with Gourmet coming in second with a B.

Like the PH, I, too, still lament the demise last year of Gourmet print edition. While the publication lives online now, last year’s holiday issue was the last published for print. But I still have my favorite Gourmet back issues. And judging from newsstands, there are plenty of other options to explore.