Planning the perfect meal with all the trimmings
November 25, 2013 11:05 AM
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One of the most memorable moments at any holiday dinner is when a moist, delicious turkey is brought to the table. Everyone grabs their forks at the sight of a perfectly brown bird glistening with juicy flavor.

Even with only four days left, there is still time to plan a special meal with the perfect turkey by following these simple roasting tips. For more recipes, visit www.bertolli.com.

Thawing the Turkey

• Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours per 5 pounds in weight. For example, a 20-pound bird takes four days to thaw. Thaw it faster by covering with cold water in the sink and changing the water every half hour.

• Don’t unwrap a frozen turkey before thawing.

• Refrigerate the turkey as soon as it has thawed or cook it immediately.

• For best eating quality, do not refreeze uncooked turkey.

Roasting the Bird

• Buy a turkey with a pop-up timer, which ensures proper cooking time.

• Baste the turkey with extra light olive oil.

• Place turkey, breast-side-up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Cook in an oven preheated to 325° F.

• For an unstuffed turkey, place a stalk or two of celery, seasonings, a cut-up onion and a handful of parsley in the cavity to keep it moist.

• Lay a “tent” of foil loosely over the turkey to prevent over-browning.

• During the last half-hour of cooking, remove the foil and baste.

• The turkey is done when the meat thermometer is 180° F and the stuffing is 165° F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, look for the red stem to go up on the pop-up timer, press a thumb and forefinger into the thick part of the drumstick to see if it feels soft or wiggle a drumstick to see if it moves easily.

• Never partially cook a turkey. Always cook it completely once started.

• For easier carving, let the turkey stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.

Planning for Leftovers

Save all of the delicious leftover turkey in a sealable container and store it in the refrigerator.

There are many great recipes that feature turkey, such as stir-fry with vegetables, turkey wraps, burritos, turkey hash, turkey loaf and good, old-fashioned turkey sandwiches.

Under-the-Skin Turkey

1 turkey with pop-up timer

1 handful of fresh parsley, finely minced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 to 4 tablespoons extra light olive oil

1 teaspoon herbs, Italian or Mexican seasonings, oregano or your favorite

1 orange, thinly sliced

Gently run your hand under turkey skin to loosen it from the meat. Do not remove skin; simply loosen it.

Mix parsley, garlic, olive oil and herbs together. Dip orange slices in mixture to coat, and then gently slide them under skin. Baste entire turkey with olive oil, which will give your turkey an appetizing golden-brown color.

Bake in moderate heat (about 350° F). When the turkey is done, pop-up timer stem appears; the meat is firm to the touch and juices run clear, not pink, when pricked with fork.

Basic Dressing or Stuffing Casserole

Makes 12 ( 1/2-cup) servings

2 6-ounce packages seasoned dressing

1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter or margarine

1 1/2 cups chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 cups broth, fruit juice or water

Combine dressing with butter or margarine, celery and onion. Stir liquid in gradually. Spoon into 2 1/2 or 3-quart greased casserole dish. Bake covered 30 minutes at 350° F. Remove cover and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer for a crisper top.

 

Apple and Walnut Stuffing

Makes 8 servings

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup sparkling cider

2 6-ounce packages seasoned dressing

2 cups chopped, peeled apple

1 cup chopped walnuts

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook celery and onion in butter or margarine until tender, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and heat for 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, add celery mixture, and mix well.

Loosely stuff turkey just before roasting. Place remaining stuffing in a greased baking dish and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes, or until thoroughly heated.

Easy Sausage and Cranberry Stuffing

Makes 10 to 12 servings

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup apple juice

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 pound uncooked breakfast or mild sausage

2 cups diced, fresh celery

1 cup diced, fresh onion

1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (optional)

3/4 cup chicken broth

1 10-ounce package herb seasoned stuffing

Place dried cranberries, apple juice and 1/2 cup chicken broth into small glass bowl; microwave uncovered on high for 2 minutes. Stir, and place to the side (thus allowing liquid to be absorbed by the dried berries).

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large, nonstick pot, brown sliced or chopped sausage, breaking up and stirring frequently until browned. Reduce heat to low, add celery and onion, and saute until vegetables are somewhat tender (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add chopped pecans if desired, soaked cranberries (including liquid), and 3/4 cup of chicken broth. Stir and remove from heat.

Fold in entire contents of stuffing package until well combined and spoon mixture into a 9 x 11-inch baking dish that has been prepared with cooking oil spray.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake at 350° F for approximately 20 minutes. Remove foil, return to oven, and bake for an additional 10 minutes uncovered. Remove from the oven, cool slightly while slicing turkey or other poultry to serve with the meal, and garnish before presentation with 1/2 cup pecan halves if desired.

— courtesy of Family Features and Bertolli

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