Let’s Talk Food: Thursday is Thanksgiving Day

Oh my! It’s Thanksgiving already this Thursday! What happened to the year?

As we get ready for my favorite holiday, with family and friends gathering to share a wonderful meal together, the cooks and chefs in the family must start prepping.

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There are many questions asked to make a perfect Thanksgiving meal. One important one is how do you make the centerpiece, the roasted turkey, tasty and juicy?

First, check your label. Butterball brand turkeys will have on the label: “Contains up to 8% of a solution of water, salt, spices and natural flavor.”

Kosher turkeys are pre-salted and deeply seasoned and will retain moisture.

If you want to season the turkey yourself, look for “natural” turkeys that contain no additives and are minimally processed. You can season these birds to your own taste.

Check the Target brand, Market Pantry turkeys — most of them are pre-seasoned, so don’t season them too much. Otherwise your finished roasted turkey will be rather salty.

If you read “self-basted” on the label, that means the turkey was injected with salt and seasonings to help keep the meat juicy during roasting.

If you bought frozen turkey, it needs four days to thaw in the refrigerator, so you should have placed in the refrigerator Sunday!

I prefer fresh turkey, as it is so much more tasty and juicy, and I feel it is only available once a year so we should enjoy it, even if the price might be a bit more than frozen. You never know how long that frozen turkey has been in the freezer. (Some might have been frozen for a year!)

I will brine my turkeys overnight, on Wednesday, so I will look for two 20- to 25-pound turkeys that have minimal amount of brine. My brine has just enough salt when tasted, not too salty, but the exact taste.

Since my turkeys are large, I prefer not to stuff them, but instead make my stuffing or dressing in a casserole dish.

If you figure 13 minutes per pound at 350 degrees, that is a good gauge for roasting. To be sure your turkey is done, also have a meat thermometer to check the doneness. Finished turkeys should register at 160 degrees at the thickest part. Allow the bird to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute.

My son, Dean, who has roasted many turkeys during the holidays for large caterings, likes to finish roasting in a hot box, or if you don’t have a hot box an ice chest works just fine. Using this method, he is sure the turkeys are cooked thoroughly and juicy.

In other words, for juicy, moist turkeys, do not overcook!

According to The Week website, the 10 top Thanksgiving dishes include:

• Pie (pumpkin and pecan).

• Stuffing.

• Gravy.

• Sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

• Ham.

• Mashed potatoes.

• Mac and cheese.

• Green bean casserole.

• Cornbread.

• Turkey.

At our home, our spread will include pumpkin and pecan pies, cornbread stuffing with cranberry, sage chicken sausage, gravy, sweet potatoes WITHOUT marshmallows, baked ham, mashed potatoes, turkey and baked miso salmon, triple cranberry sauce, macaroni potato salad (not mac and cheese), fresh asparagus or brussels sprouts (no green beans), cucumber namasu, red rice or sekihan and a green salad or Caesar’s salad.

Canned cranberry sauce is a no-no, but instead it will be my favorite triple cranberry sauce, which I will make today. The salmon slabs will be marinated today in a miso sauce also, so it will be tasty and ready to bake for 30 minutes Thursday. The ham will be placed in a large pot with apple juice so it will be reverse-brined and be not too salty, and juicy. I will make the cornbread for my stuffing today, cut it up and allow to dry at room temperature for several days. By Thursday, it will be perfect for stuffing.

I probably gave you this recipe for triple (cranberry juice, dried cranberries and whole fresh cranberries) cranberry sauce, but I make this every Thanksgiving and love this recipe:

Triple Cranberry Sauce

1 cup concentrated cranberry juice, thawed (if you are not able to find it, boil down 2 cups cranberry juice till 1 cup)

1/2 cup sugar

12 ounce package cranberries, washed and well-drained

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3 tablespoons orange marmalade

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 teaspoon orange peel

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Boil together cranberry juice and sugar. Add fresh cranberries and the rest of the ingredients and boil until the berries are fully cooked and sauce is thick.

Miso Marinated Salmon

1/2 cup white miso

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup mirin

1/4 cup sake

1 slab salmon, pin bones removed with a tweezer

Nori furikake

Whisk together miso, sugar, mirin and sake. Place in large zip closing bag salmon slab and marinade, marinate for two days.

In preheated 350 degree oven, place salmon slab on large baking sheet, top with furikake and bake for 30 minutes.

Buttermilk Cornbread for Stuffing

1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal

1 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

Mix dry ingredients together, make a well, add buttermilk, oil and eggs. Mix until just combined, add in 9-x-9-inch oiled baking pan that has been placed in a a 400 degree oven to heat pan for 5 minutes. Add the batter, bake for 25 minutes.

Cool, cut into 1-inch cubes, place in baking sheet and dry cubes for 1-2 days.

Foodie bites

If you placed your order at Hawaii Community College for butter rolls, pumpkin pies and/or Thanksgiving plates, tomorrow is pickup day. (The turkey plate lunch was sold out last week). If you ordered multiple orders, make sure you bring a bag or box to carry them home.

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Call 934-2559 if you have questions. I am not sure if it is too late to order today.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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