With the Thanksgiving countdown in full swing, Rachael brings in an all-star team to answer all of your turkey questions! Celebrity chefs Rocco DiSpirito, Sunny Anderson, Ming Tsai and Aaron McCargo, Jr. share their best tips to help you get ready for the holiday. "Doesn't this look like the foodie version of The View?" Rachael says as they sit at a table and field questions from the audience.
How much turkey should I buy?
Rocco: "Here's the thing: 50 percent yield on any poultry and you want to serve at least 1/2 a pound of carved meat to your guests. So that means you need at least a pound of whole turkey per person, and then for the leftovers another 1/2 pound. So a pound and half per person."
Rachael: "I like to sleep late on the few days that I get off. I buy two small to medium sized turkeys instead of one big boy ... you can start passing one before you get up to turkey number two. Because the small turkeys - they cook quicker than the big ones."
What is the best way to defrost a turkey?
Sunny: "I always do my math like this: 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey, so if you have a 10 pounder it's two days and always in the refrigerator. It's the safest way to defrost your turkey."
My turkey's always dry. Is there a way to keep it moist?
Ming: "You have to brine you turkey. This is so easy, anyone can do this," he says, and suggests soaking the turkey for 24 hours in a mixture of sugar, kosher salt and water. "The good salted sweet water's going in ... you get the most juicy turkey ever." And, it will cook 15 to 20 percent faster. Click here for the complete instructions.
Rachael: "My mom used to take a big roasting pan and keep it on the stove top filled with low sodium chicken broth, and as you're plating up the sliced turkey give it a little dunk in the plain chicken broth. Drop it on the plate and everybody will think it's the moistest turkey they've ever had."
Do you have any tips for gravy?
Rocco: "The point of gravy is to moisten your turkey, not drive the cook insane, which it happens to do often." Rocco uses Heinz Pork Gravy and combines it with the turkey drippings in a fat separator. "Bring it to a boil and season it. Make it your own. You'll get a really fast, really great gravy."
Sunny: "Rocco, love you to death ... but I really love to make a quick gravy for Thanksgiving." She uses the grease in the roasting pan as a base for gravy, adding garlic, butter, seasonings and flour, and then deglazes the pan with red wine and stock to create the perfect gravy. Click here for her recipe.
How do you carve a turkey without shredding the poultry? Rachael gives this question to Ray the butcher, who demonstrates his fool-proof method for beautiful slices. Click here and get his tips!
How do you prevent mashed potatoes from getting watery?
Aaron: "I always keep a pack of instant mashed potatoes on hand ... when the potatoes get too wet and you don't have time to boil up potatoes and you don't want to stress about it, crack them bad boys open, stir it in there a little bit."
Ming: "You also probably have extra potatoes or sweet potatoes. Take those, prick them a little bit, put them in the microwave four or five minutes to cook them through. Halve them, scoop out that flesh and add more cooked potatoes into it until it comes back together."
Sunny: "I will just re-cook them. I will put some cheese in there like some shredded parm, some asiago, I'll put that in a buttered casserole dish, put that in the oven so some of that moisture evaporates from it. The top gets nice and brown and crusty and it's like a twice baked potato."
Rocco: "Use bread crumbs. Bread crumbs will absorb all the extra liquid. You won't taste them in the final result and they'll make your mashed potatoes thick again."
Is it OK to serve cranberry sauce from a jar?
Aaron: "I normally cheat, open up a can," he says. But his strategy changed when his sister encouraged him to try out a recipe for what can be an intimidating side dish. "What I learned to do is just keep it very simple." He fills a saute pan with cranberries, orange and apple juices, cinnamon and cayenne pepper to a create a cranberry sauce with big, bold flavors. Click here for his recipe.
Foolproof method for making a pie crust?
Rachael: "I wait for my sister to bring the pies over!"
Rocco: "If you're going to make it yourself, the pros have a 3:1 pie dough ratio. It's three parts of flour, two parts of fat ... and one part of ice cold water... add a little salt, a little sugar."
What can you do with Thanksgiving leftovers?
Sunny: "I'll make stuffing of course for Thanksgiving and the next day it's usually really hard, so I'll take all the stuffing and make little balls out of them ... I'll take some bread crumbs, you can use the flavored Italian herb, whatever you like, roll the stuffing in it and then just pan fry it and then I serve it with a cranberry pesto."
Rocco: "When I think leftovers, I always think eggs and the next day," Rocco says while heading to Rachael's kitchen to share his favorite post-Thanksgiving brunch dish. He creates an egg cake using turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and gravy. Click here for the recipe When it comes out of the oven, it looks so great that the all-star chefs demand a sample. "We'll take five of those over here please!" Rachael says. "Thanksgiving, the thing you're most grateful for the next day is the leftovers."
Also on this show
- Cran-Raisin Barbecue Sauce over Chicken
- Mom's Nut and Cheddar Ball
- Ming Tsai's Turkey Brine
- Sunny Anderson's Red Wine Onion Gravy
- Big Daddy’s Cran-Apple-y Basil Cranberry Sauce
- Rocco DiSpirito's Thanksgiving Egg Cake
- Cider Sweet Potatoes
- Turkey Carving Tips from Ray the Butcher
- Viewer Tip: Saving a Stained Table Cloth
- Viewer Tip: Pumpkin Centerpiece
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