Sunday, November 23, 2014

Classic Thanksgiving Side Dish: Mashed Potatoes - Make Ahead Tips!




Don't you just love a potato?

Potatoes today symbolize comfort, especially around the holidays.  They are earthy-tasting, easy to prepare, and are compatible with many other foods and adaptable to all sorts of cooking methods.

Let's talk a little about potatoes...
There are three basic types of potato varieties: starchy, waxy, and all-purpose.

  • Starchy or mealy potatoes, such as russets, are best for baking and mashing because they cook up dry and fluffy, but do not hold their shape well.
  • Waxy potatoes, such as red or white potatoes, are low in starch.  Use them for potato salads and other recipes where you want them to hold their shape and are not relying on their starch content to thicken a soup or sauce. (Great for roasting!)
  • All-purpose potatoes have a medium starch content and are good for both uses.  Yukon Golds are among the best known.
Select potatoes that are firm, not blemished, wrinkled, tinged with green, or cracked.  The eyes, of the potatoes should not have sprouted.

Store them in a cool dark place with good circulation for up to 2 weeks. Don't put them with onions!  These two veggies together produce gases that cause rapid spoilage.  Best when used 2 or 3 days from purchase for their fresh sweet flavor and texture.

Mashed Potato Techniques

Cooking the Potatoes:  Boiling whole potatoes with their skins on keeps the potatoes from becoming waterlogged, improving the texture of the final dish, and help to prevent nutrients from being lost in the water.  If you want to boil peeled potatoes, cut them into small cubs so that they cook quickly and are exposed to the water as briefly as possible.

Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

KITCHEN TIPS:

  • Ricing, hand mashing, using a mixer...it's up to you and what you prefer. 
  • One great tip is to melt your butter and heat some half and half or cream with it to a warm temperature.  When you add warm milk and butter as you are mashing the potatoes they will stay nice and hot. 



Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

This has been my go to method for several years now and they always turn out wonderful!  

1.  Boil and mash your potatoes early in the day.  
2.  Then place the completed dish in a crock pot on low.  
3.  Add a little cream on top and let them sit there until dinner time. (I would say for 5 hours at most)  
4.  Stir and serve.  You will always have HOT potatoes!



My favorite Mashed Potato recipes

Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root
by Williams-Sonoma


Also known as celeriac, celery root is a knobby, round winter vegetable that contributes a subtle celery flavor to purees when cooked and a crisp crunch to salads when used raw. In this recipe, celery root is mashed with potatoes, giving the dish a lighter texture than if potatoes alone were used, and an interesting, fresh taste that matches well with full-flavored foods such as roast turkey. Both peeled celery root and potatoes discolor quickly when exposed to air and should be immersed in water if not cooked at once to prevent discoloring.


Ingredients:
2 large celery roots, about 2 lb. total, peeled and cut into slices 1 inch thick 
2 1/2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into slices 1 inch thick
Kosher salt, to taste
3/4 cup half-and-half
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Directions:
Put the celery roots and potatoes in separate large saucepans. Add water to cover and a large pinch of kosher salt to each pan. Bring both to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Just before they are done, place an ovenproof serving bowl in a 200°F oven. (There is no need to preheat the oven.)

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the half-and-half and 2 Tbs. of the butter and heat until the butter melts. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm. Drain the potatoes and celery root, then return them to one of the large saucepans and set over medium-low heat; shake the pan until the vegetables begin to stick to the bottom. Remove from the heat.

Pass the vegetables through a ricer into the warmed serving bowl. Alternatively, pass the vegetables through a food mill, or mash them in the pan with a potato masher. Stir in the warm half-and-half mixture. Season with kosher salt and white pepper. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and swirl the top of the puree. Top with the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and serve immediately. If necessary, keep warm in a 200°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or cover the bowl and set it in a pan of hot water.

Classic Mashed Potatoes
by Williams-Sonoma
Ingredients:

5 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups half-and-half, heated
salt & pepper
  
Directions:
Put the potatoes and the 2 tsp. salt in a large pot, add water to cover the potatoes by 3 inches and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently cook the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well in a colander.

Place hot potatoes in the large bowl of a mixer.  Mix on medium low speed until potatoes are smooth.  Add butter and a little half and half at a time until your desired consistency is reached.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.
Picture courtesy of Southern Living.com

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Making Gravy 101 - It's almost Turkey time!

What's turkey without the gravy?

Super simple and very tasty.  Here's a how-to that explains it all.  And here's two great recipes that will give you perfect gravy for your holiday.



Making Gravy


The perfect complement to roast turkey and dressing, turkey gravy is especially delicious when made from the pan juices thickened with roux (a mixture of butter and flour) and enhanced with turkey or chicken stock. You can also flavor the gravy with sherry, Madeira or other wine.  (this is my favorite gravy recipe!) 

Turkey Gravy
3/4 cup water
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 cups turkey or chicken stock
2 Tbs. dry sherry, Madeira or other wine (optional) (we used balsamic vinegar the other day!)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste




1. Skim and discard any fat from the juices in the roasting pan. Or use a gravy separator and pour the defatted juices back into the pan.


2. Add the water to the pan and place over medium heat. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Transfer the juices to a bowl.


3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until bubbly. Add the flour and whisk rapidly for a few seconds to cook the flour.
4. Rapidly whisk in the reserved pan juices and the stock. Cook until smooth and thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sherry and season with salt and pepper.


5. If desired, pour the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve into a warmed sauceboat or wide-mouthed pitcher. Makes 2 to 2 1/2 cups gravy.

article and pictures courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

Here's another great gravy recipe that you can make ahead...and save yourself some time!


Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Makes 4 cups
Ingredients


2 1/4 pounds turkey drumsticks
3 carrots, cut into pieces
1 large onion, quartered
6 fresh parsley sprigs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste


Preparation
1. Brown Drumsticks and Veggies: Preheat oven to 400°. Pat drumsticks dry. Cook drumsticks and next 3 ingredients in hot oil in a large roasting pan over medium-high heat. Cook drumsticks 3 minutes on each side; cook vegetables, at the same time, stirring often.
2. Reserve Flavorful Pan Drippings: Bake drumsticks and vegetables in pan at 400° for 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of drumsticks registers 160°. Remove from oven. Remove and discard vegetables and parsley using a slotted spoon. Reserve drumsticks for another use.
3. Whisk in Chicken Broth and Stir Until Smooth: Whisk flour into hot drippings in pan, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth until smooth. Whisk in pepper.

4. Cook Gravy to Thicken and Develop Flavor: Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, and gently boil, whisking occasionally, 45 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt to taste

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Roast a Turkey 101


Roasting the Turkey


The information that follows includes general guidelines for roasting a turkey.


What Size Turkey to Buy
To ensure ample servings for Thanksgiving dinner as well as generous leftovers, allow for 1 to 1 1/4 lb. of turkey per person.

What Size Pan to Use
For best results, roast your turkey on a wire rack in an open roasting pan. Because of the turkey's weight, a sturdy pan with good handles is recommended. If you use a foil roasting pan, double it for extra strength and take special care when transferring it into and out of the oven.


Turkey Weight               Minimum Pan Size

Up to 12 lb.                      14" x 10" x 2 3/4" high (small)

Up to 16 lb.                      15 3/4" x 12" x 3" high (medium)

Up to 20 lb.                      16" x 13" x 3" high (large)


Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Do not leave the turkey at room temperature longer than 1 hour.

Roasting an Unstuffed Turkey
The times listed below are calculated for an unstuffed turkey brought to room temperature and roasted at 400°F, breast side down, for the first 45 minutes, then turned breast side up and roasted at 325°F until done.


Turkey Weight                           Approximate Roasting Time

10 to 12 lb.                                   2 1/2 to 3 hours

12 to 14 lb.                                   2 3/4 to 3 1/4 hours

14 to 16 lb.                                   3 to 3 3/4 hours

16 to 18 lb.                                   3 1/4 to 4 hours

18 to 20 lb.                                   3 1/2 to 4 1/4 hours

20+ lb.                                           3 3/4 to 4 1/2 hours


   
Roasting a Stuffed Turkey

Stuff the turkey just before putting it in the oven (do not stuff it earlier). Spoon the dressing loosely into the body and neck cavities. Do not overfill, as the dressing will expand during roasting. Truss the turkey (see related tip at left).

To facilitate removing the stuffing, first line the inside of the cavity with a double layer of cheesecloth, allowing it to extend beyond the cavity by a few inches. Then spoon the stuffing inside. After roasting the bird, gently pull the overhanging cheesecloth and the stuffing will slip out easily, neatly tucked inside the cheesecloth.

To ensure that a stuffed turkey cooks evenly, roast the bird slowly, breast side up, at 325°F, covering the breast loosely with foil for the first two-thirds of the roasting time. Using the chart above, add about 30 minutes to the total cooking time for stuffed birds weighing 16 lb. or less, and about 1 hour for birds weighing more than 16 lb.

Additional Tips
1. After taking the turkey out of the oven, let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows time for some of the juices to be absorbed back into the meat, which makes it easier to carve and more moist.

2. If roasting a stuffed bird, remove all of the stuffing at serving time.

3. After dinner, remove any remaining meat from the bones and refrigerate the leftovers.


article and picture courtesy of Williams-Sonoma



My Favorite turkey recipe....the compound butter is the secret ingredient!


Oven Roasted Turkey with Sage Butter

By Tyler Florence

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 3 hr 0 min
Serves: 10 to 12 servings

1 (12 to 14) pound fresh turkey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sage Butter, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and remove the top rack of the oven.

Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with stuffing and, if required, truss the legs. Cover the turkey with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Push the sage butter under the skin of the turkey, being careful not to puncture the skin.

Put the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan, and into the oven. Continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F. The thigh juices will run clear when pricked with a knife, about 3 hours total (15 minutes per pound). If the legs or breast brown too quickly during roasting, cover them with foil.

Sage Butter:
2 sticks butter, softened
1/4 cup chopped sage
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients.


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