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2018 Holiday Wishbook: Talkin’ Turkey

Turkeys tend to have a bad reputation for being dry unless they’re basted or brined. Here are a few tricks to keep your bird moist with little to no fuss:

Start fresh. Fresh turkeys will cook faster and hold moisture better. Ice crystals are the culprit. In frozen meat, they cause cell damage that results in fluid loss [aka dry turkey].

Thaw thoroughly. If you can’t buy fresh, make sure you do thaw your bird thoroughly. The USDA recommends thawing your turkey in the refrigerator to keep it at a consistent, safe temperature. But this  method takes time – about one day for every four to five pounds of meat. A 16-pound turkey will take about four days to thaw. You also can thaw your bird, in its original wrapping, fully submerged in a sink or bucket filled with cool water. This method takes time, about eight hours for a 16-pound bird, and attention. The water must be kept consistently cool, which means changing it about every 20 to 30 minutes.

Go small. Yes, a big bird looks impressive as the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but smaller is better if you want a truly tasty turkey.  A 16- to 20-pound turkey is ideal. But if you’re feeding more than 10 to 12 people, you’re going to need more turkey. Plan on about 1.5 pounds per person, plus a little extra for leftovers.

Don’t stuff. Unstuffed turkeys cook more evenly.

Do fill. Do loosely fill the turkey’s cavity with aromatic vegetables and [here’s a moisture trick] an orange. Yes, you read that right. A quartered orange inside the cavity of a turkey releases moisture as it cooks. As long as you stick to one orange – and balance it out with a similarly sized and quartered onion, a few cloves of garlic [crushed to release their flavor] and herbs such as fresh Rosemary – you won’t taste the orange in your turkey.

Cook upside down. For the first 40 minutes, try roasting your turkey breast-side down in a v-shaped roasting rack. Then, flip the bird breast-side up. But be careful; flipping a hot turkey with hot vegetables inside is tricky.

Don’t overcook. Roasting time should be about 15 minutes per pound in a 350ºF oven, or until the bird reaches an internal temperature of 165º. To test doneness, use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast.

Let it rest. Experts at the Food Network suggest tenting the bird with foil and letting it rest for about 25 minutes before carving, or up to an hour without tenting if you need time to finish the side dishes.

With the turkey in the oven, it’s time to talk sides and, of course, dessert.  Here are three new takes on classic holiday fare.

MAPLE-SRIRACHA CARROT MEDLEY

[Courtesy of Dierbergs Cooking School]

Serves: 8

Maple Sriracha Carrot Medley

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes [about 1 1/4 pounds], peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 carton [18 ounces] cubed butternut squash

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons Dierbergs olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 to 3 teaspoons sriracha hot chili sauce

Directions:

• Preheat over to 375ºF.

• Divide veggies between two foil-lined jellyroll pans that have been lightly coated with no-stick cooking spray. Drizzle olive oil over top and season with salt and pepper; toss until well mixed. Arrange veggies in single layer.

• Roast in oven stirring once until veggies are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Place in serving bowl.

• In small bowl, stir together maple syrup and sriracha; drizzle over veggies and toss until well mixed.

 

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH SAUSAGE

[Courtesy of Whole Foods Market]

Serves: 8

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sausage

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise if large

3/4 pound bulk pork or turkey sausage [Italian, sage, country or breakfast]

3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped

2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs [any combination of parsley, sage, chives and oregano]

Directions:

• Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

• On a large rimmed baking sheet, combine Brussels sprouts, sausage and salt and mix well, breaking up clumps of sausage.

• Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until sausage is browned and cooked through and sprouts are tender and crisped on the outside, about 40 minutes.

• Transfer to a bowl and top with toasted pecans* and herbs.

* How to toast pecans

• Preheat oven to 350ºF

• Lightly spritz baking sheet with cooking spray.

• Place a single layer of pecans on the baking sheet and toast them about 5 minutes, or just until they become aromatic. Keep a careful watch on them, as they can scorch easily.

 

WHOLE LATTE LOVE

[Courtesy of Schnucks Cooking School]

Start to finish: 70 minutes

Serves: 12

Whole Latte Love

Ingredients: 

3  10.75-ounce pound cakes, thawed and cut into 1-inch cubes

7 large Schnucks eggs, beaten

1 cup Schnucks pumpkin puree

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons prepared espresso or dark-roast coffee, cooled

Directions:

• Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, bake cake cubes for 10-15 minutes, until dry.

• In a large bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin puree, cream and pumpkin pie spice until combined. Add cake cubes and gently toss until evenly coated. Let rest 10 minutes.

• Wipe baking dish clean and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Evenly spread mixture into pan. Bake 25-30 minutes until egg is set and top is slightly crisp.

• Mix powdered sugar with espresso and stir until combined. Drizzle glaze over top and serve immediately.

* How to toast pecans

• Preheat oven to 350ºF

• Lightly spritz baking sheet with cooking spray.

• Place a single layer of pecans on the baking sheet and toast them about 5 minutes, or just until they become aromatic. Keep a careful watch on them, as they can scorch easily.

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