By Ricardo Taylor,2014-11-25 17:11
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    Plan your menu. Don’t forget the wine and other beverages. Read through your recipes and prepare a shopping list. Order your turkey NOW. Make a list of preparation and cooking times of each dish you plan to serve. Check on china, serving pieces, glasses,



    Shop for all non-perishables. If you are using a frozen turkey, get that too.


    Place your frozen, wrapped turkey on a tray in the refrigerator (allow five hours of thawing for each pound). If using fresh turkey, buy it no more than two days ahead. Food Preparation: mix piecrust and refrigerate it; make the cranberry sauce; prepare

    “croutons” for dressing (if you are making your own).


    Buy your perishable items. If you are buying bread, buy it now. You can slice it up and

    freeze it to keep it fresh. Roll out your pie shells and freeze or refrigerate.


    Make your pies, turkey stock, dressing & mashed potatoes (only if you use my “Do

    Ahead Mashed Potato” recipe. Do any vegetable prep you can.


    Make appetizers. Prepare the turkey for the oven. Whip cream for pies, cook

    vegetables, bake mashed potatoes, and make gravy.


Tip 1: Choose a small turkey. There’s less chance of overcooking the outer parts of the

    turkey while trying to cook the interior meat.

    Tip 2: Forget about basting and keep the oven door shut for maximum flavor and crispness.

Tip 3: Don’t stuff the bird; cook the dressing in a casserole. The turkey usually gets

    over-cooked and dried out while you try to cook the stuffing to a necessary 165 degrees.

    Tip 4: If you want a crispy skin all over, you must turn the turkey on its side once the top has browned to perfection. This is easy if you cook your turkey on a broiler pan.

    Tip 4: To carve, cut off the legs, thighs and wings. Remove each breast half from the bone in one piece, and then thinly slice crosswise. Carve the meat from the thigh and drumstick.


    Rinse the turkey off and dry it with paper towels. Cook your turkey on a roasting rack or broiler pan. Keep it simple. If you don’t “stuff” the turkey, put an onion, celery, carrot, salt and pepper and poultry seasoning inside. Rub a little olive oil on the outside of the bird and sprinkle with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.

    Cook an unstuffed turkey 12-14 minutes per pound in a 350-degree oven. After about one hour, pour 1 cup of white wine evenly over the bird. Turn the turkey on its side once the top has browned for crispy skin all over. Add 30 to 60 minutes for a stuffed turkey.

    Check the internal temperature of the turkey 30 minutes before you expect it to be done so you do not overcook it. Use a thermometer to check for doneness. Put the

    thermometer through the thickest part of the breast to the bone and then pull the thermometer up away from the bone. It is done at 160 degrees. The thigh should register 180 degrees and the middle of the dressing, 165 degrees.

     Let stand, covered loosely with foil, for 30 minutes before slicing. I like to cook my

    turkey about an hour early so I can clean up and make the gravy before the guests arrive. So, I don’t cook it completely, 165 for the thigh temperature and 140 for the breast. Then I cut the wings, drumsticks and thighs off. Also, the breast halves in two pieces are taken off the bone. I don’t do further carving until the turkey is ready to be served. It is covered and heated with some of the pan juices or turkey broth in a 350-degree oven before the carving is completed.



    ? cup sour cream (omit for a low-fat appetizer)

     1/3 cup prepared cocktail sauce

    1 Tbsp. minced cornichons or dill pickles

    1 Tbsp. minced green onions

    2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon

    1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

    1/8 tsp. salt

    Dash of hot sauce

    1 ? # bay shrimp or Dungeness crab or a combination

    1 ? # Belgian endive

    Combine sour cream through hot sauce and mix thoroughly. Add shrimp and mix well. Season to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

    Trim endive and separate leaves. Rinse in cold water and dry. Spoon a small amount of shrimp into endive leaves. Sprinkle with chopped parsley


     2 small fennel bulbs

     3 navel oranges

     2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

     2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

     ? Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

     ? cup extra virgin olive oil

     salt and pepper to taste

     6 ounces smoked salmon

     1 tablespoon chopped fennel leaves or fresh dill

     1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

    Trim the fennel, cut lengthwise in half and slice as thinly as possible. Peel the oranges, removing the white pith and slice as thinly as possible. Combine the orange juice, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper; whisk in olive oil. Toss fennel in a little dressing. Arrange the fennel and orange slices on a plate. Lay the salmon slices over the fennel and oranges. Drizzle with remaining dressing and sprinkle with chopped fennel leaves and chives. Serve some Crostini, bread sticks or crackers with the Salmon.


     Neck, gizzard, heart and wing tips of turkey

     1/2 yellow onion

     1 rib of celery

     1-2 bay leaves

     5 cups water or chicken stock

Combine and cook for one to two hours.


     4 ozs. butter or some olive oil

     2 medium yellow onions, about 4 cups chopped

     2 cups chopped celery

     Homemade croutons or 14 ozs. seasoned bread stuffing mix

     2 cups turkey or chicken stock

     2 eggs, beaten

     ? tsp. salt

     Black pepper to taste

     1 tsp. thyme

     1 Tbsp. fresh sage, finely chopped

     1 Tbsp. good quality poultry seasoning

     Optional: dried apricots or cranberries, chestnuts, Italian sausage, apples, nuts

    Melt butter or heat olive oil in sauté pan. Add onion, celery, herbs and spices. Cook until onion is transparent and celery is tender. (If you are cutting fat, sauté in a little

    stock or white wine instead of the butter or oil). Put bread mix into a bowl. Add the

    vegetables and stock and stir to mix. Mix in eggs and any other tasty treats you choose. Taste and adjust seasonings and liquid. Chill until ready to stuff turkey. .


     5# Yukon Gold potatoes

     6 ozs. cream cheese (whipped works really well)

     1-cup sour cream

     2 tsp. salt

     Black pepper

     1 egg

    Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks. Boil gently until cooked through but not disintegrating. Drain well. Cut up the cream cheese and put in the bottom of a bowl, large enough to hold all of the potatoes. Rice the potatoes into the bowl or mash by hand. You really shouldn’t use your electric mixer, as the potatoes can get gluey. The heat of the potatoes will soften the cream cheese and make it easier to incorporate. Now add the sour cream and the salt and pepper. Stir together well. Beat the egg and mix it into the potatoes. Adjust the consistency with a little milk, if necessary and taste and adjust seasonings.

    Butter a baking dish, preferably 9x13x2 inches. Spread the potatoes in the pan. Cover with clear plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. For optimum results, do not hold more than one day before baking. Bring to room temperature before baking or adjust the cooking time. Dot the top with butter and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir the potatoes to insure that they heat evenly. Every oven is different you might want to check the temperature with your instant read

    thermometer to be sure they are nice and hot. Look for 125 degrees.

    To Serve: I like to spoon the finished potatoes into a bowl in a fluffy mound. That doesn’t change the taste, they just look “better”. Your choice…….


     2# Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

     1 Tbsp. olive oil

     3 Leeks, sliced (2-1/2 cups)

     2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

     2-2 ? cups chicken stock

     Salt & pepper to taste

    Sauté leeks and garlic in olive oil. Add potatoes and chicken stock to cover. Cook until potatoes are very soft and mushy. Puree well. Adjust consistency with more stock if necessary. This recipe can be prepared a day ahead and re-heated in the microwave or oven.


     Deglazed drippings from turkey

     Additional turkey broth if needed

     1 Tbsp. flour per cup of liquid

     Salt and pepper

    Heat turkey drippings in your roasting pan on the stovetop. Deglaze the pan with some Turkey Broth and let that simmer together. Pour into a saucepan and skim all fat from turkey drippings. Whisk flour and COLD turkey broth or water together. Bring drippings to a boil. Whisk in flour mixture and cook 3-5 minutes, whisking all the while. Adjust consistency with more flour or broth; season with salt and pepper. Hold in double boiler until needed.


     12 ozs. whole cranberries

     1 ? cups sugar

     ? cup red wine

     ? cup water

     1 cinnamon stick or 1 small star anise

     Orange peel strips

    Combine ingredients; bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Sauce will thicken as it cools.


Foolproof Piecrust (Yield: Four 9” crusts)

     4 cups flour

     1-cup (2 sticks) butter, very cold

    3/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled

     1 Tbsp. sugar

     ? tsp. salt

     1 Tbsp. rice or mild vinegar

     1 egg

     ? cup cold water

    Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Grate the very cold butter into the bowl using the largest holes on the grater. Add the chilled shortening in pieces and cut in with a pastry blender. In a small bowl, beat vinegar, egg and water. Combine with dry ingredients and mix until dough holds together well. Shape into 4 small flat discs, wrap well and refrigerate at least 15 minutes before rolling or you can freeze the dough for later use.

Pie Filling: (for one pie)

     1 ? cups pumpkin

     ? cup brown sugar

     ? cup sugar

     1 tsp. cinnamon

     ? tsp. ginger

     ? tsp. cloves

     2 eggs, slightly beaten

     1 ? cups half and half

    Mix pumpkin, sugars and spices together well. Whisk in eggs and half and half. Fill prepared pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until knife tests clean. Convection oven setting is 350 degrees. If crust is browning too quickly, turn oven down 25 degrees. Your pie should puff in the middle (just a little) when it is cooked completely.

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