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Foothill gourmet: Thanksgiving tips

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From page B2 | November 11, 2013 | Leave Comment

Donna BrownHere’s a few tips to make Thanksgiving dinner stellar. If you like the tip, but not for Thanksgiving, put it in your file of delicious tips to save. Wishing you lovely holidays.

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

Leftover ideas: Turkey is very versatile. 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 the markets. Be sure to always check ingredients.

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.

Plate presentation idea: Fan out slices of turkey evenly to make a more appealing presentation. Don’t drench the turkey in sauce or gravy. A small spoonful or two is enough. Then pass extra sauce in a gravy boat for diners to add more, if desired.

Be sure to clean hands, work surfaces and utensils touched by raw poultry or its juices. I don’t recommend stuffing the turkey, often the stuffing doesn’t get thoroughly cooked. Bake the stuffing separately in an oven proof pan.

Method for baking the stuffing: Butter a glass-baking dish. Add enough broth to stuffing to moisten it, about 3/4-1 cup. Transfer to prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake until heated through, about 30 to 35 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is slightly crisp and golden, about 20-25 minutes longer.

For desserts, coat a plate with chocolate sauce or fruit puree. Using a plastic squeeze bottle, carefully place drops of heavy cream at regular intervals. Draw the tip of a toothpick through each drop to make a chain of feathered heart shapes. To make a spider web squeeze concentric circles of cream on top of the chocolate from the center to the outside, draw the toothpick from the first to the last ring feathering the cream.

Cranberry is one of just a handful of fruits native to North America. A new cranberry vine takes three to five years to begin producing. Properly cared for, the vine can last a 100 years or more.

FYI: There are about 450 cranberries in a pound. Those packages of fresh cranberries have numerous berries in them. Since fresh berries bounce and spoiled ones can’t, bounce them in a super clean sink or in a large bowl.

Enjoy family and friends this holiday season.

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