PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA

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Foothill gourmet: Helpful holiday dinner tips

By From page B2 | December 09, 2013

Donna BrownHere’s a few tips to make your Christmas dinner stellar. It’s never too early to plan for the holidays.

First is my recipe for wild mushroom-shallot gravy, that is delicious. The aroma of shallots, while roasting in the oven, perfumes the whole house with a wonderful scent. If roasting shallots doesn’t get you salivating, nothing can.

Wild mushroom-shallot gravy — shallot ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil, 10 shallots and 4 cloves garlic. Note: You can easily peel shallots after they are roasted. First, cut both the root end and the tip off. Place shallots, oil, and garlic in a baking dish, cover with foil and put in a 325 degree oven for 50-55 minutes, until the shallots are soft and tender. Let shallots cool and the shallots will easily squeeze out of their peels. Yes, your hands get messy with oil but it is much easier than peeling the raw shallots one at a time. And, you get a taste of the aromatic shallot oil, heaven. Thinly slice.

The mushroom and gravy ingredients part of the recipe follows: 12 ounces mixed wild mushrooms (possibilities include oyster, morel and stemmed shiitake, sliced), 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried, 2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage or 3/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage, 1/2 cup dry Marsala, 1/2 cup dry Sherry, 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-salt broth, and 1/2 cup half-and-half.

Preparation: Transfer 1 tablespoon shallot oil from the baking dish to a heavy large saucepan. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, sage, and roasted shallots and garlic to saucepan. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Add Marsala and Sherry; boil until syrupy, about 6 minutes. Add stock, boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add half-and-half; cook until mixture thickens to sauce consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with turkey.

More tips: If you like the tip, but not for Christmas, put it in a file of delicious tips to save.

Wishing you lovely holidays.

A good rule of thumb for knowing how much turkey you will need for a dinner is to purchase 1½ pounds of turkey for each person. This allows generous portions for dinner and enough leftover for sandwiches and soup.

Leftover ideas: Turkey is very versatile. There are unlimited possibilities. My favorites include turkey wraps, turkey quesadillas, turkey enchiladas or turkey soup.

If you enjoy making crepes, make a turkey and vegetable crepe filling. I have the time to prepare my own, but I have seen crepes at markets. Be sure to always check the list of ingredients to watch out for preservatives and allergens.

Excellent rules for preparing turkey: If the turkey is fresh, it is best to keep it in the refrigerator only two days, any longer and you risk the chance of spoilage.

To prevent bacterial growth, never leave the turkey out at room temperature for more than two hours total, including before and after cooking. A frozen turkey can be stored in the freezer for as long as 12 months. Defrosting it in the refrigerator is the best method but once it is defrosted, don’t leave it at room temperature. Remember to place a plate or large bowl beneath it to catch the juices as it thaws. It will take two to three days to defrost, so plan ahead. Cooked turkey can be kept for three to four days in the refrigerator and for four months in the freezer.

Donna Brown

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