November 26th, 2009

cap, captain miss america

Thanksgiving Tip of the Day: Cooking your Turkey!

I don’t have photos, because by the time I start cooking my turkey, you might have had to do yours, so I just want to get up some tips for those of you who need help!

–Your turkey will need fifteen to twenty minutes of roasting per pound, so keep this in mind when you start cooking. For example, a 12 pound turkey will take about 3 hours, while a 20 pound turkey can take up to 4 1/2. You’re also going to want to leave time for it to sit outside the over.

Here are some tips.


–Pre-heat your oven to about 325-375. Different recipes call for different temperatures but somewhere in there is a good place to start!

–Now pat your turkey down with some clean cloths or paper towels and set it on a rack inside your roasting pan. If you don’t have a rack, you can make one! Remember Lincoln Logs? Take a bunch of celery and cut all the stalks apart, and wash them well. You can stack them on top of each other just like Lincoln Logs and set your turkey on top of that! Sweet, huh?

Good? Good.

–At this point, you might want to cover your turkey with…


Draping your turkey with bacon will make the skin less crispy, but it will also make it super tasty. Just take a package of uncooked bacon and drape it over the turkey’s breast. Cool, huh? It just depends how much you like skin vs delicious bacon flavor.

–Put your turkey in the oven. Cook it for about an hour and don’t do anything to it– don’t TOUCH it for the first hour, no matter how tempting it is, unless it smells like burning plastic or something!

–After an hour, baste that puppy! You can baste with a lot of things: pan juices, chicken broth, butter, oil, bacon fat, juice…or a mixture of any of those things.

–Turn the turkey around! Most ovens don’t heat EXACTLY evenly, so turning your turkey back-to-front in the oven will ensure that the two sides will cook mostly evenly.

–Repeat this: wait about an hour again, baste, and turn.

–We’re at two hours now. From here on in, you’ll want to check the turkey every half-hour and see how it is doing. Most turkeys won’t be done for at least three hours, so you don’t need to check the temperature till the three hour mark, but every half hour, check the temperature with an instant-read meat thermometer. When it reads about 165-170 degrees, take it out of the oven!

–Until it reaches 165, don’t take it out! Just baste and turn like you did before.

–Don’t trust the plastic pop-up thermometer!

–If your turkey seems to start to get too brown but isn’t 165 degrees yet, TENT IT. Tenting your turkey is fun. Take a great big piece of tin foil and fold it into a little tent-shape. Pull the rack out slightly and pop the tent on the turkey like a hat! This will help keep the turkey from browning too fast.

–Once the turkey has hit 165-170, take it out and put it on a towel or trivet or something, and…TENT IT ANYWAY. This will help it retain heat and cook just a little bit longer!

Yum, huh?

I think stuffing is pretty self-explanatory. Put the stuffing inside the turkey cavity before cooking! If you want to! Not everyone likes their turkey stuffed. You can also put your stuffing inside a piece of cheesecloth to keep the bits of meat from getting into it but still get the meat juice.

OK! I think we are all good. We’re good, right? Good! Let me know if you have any other problems or questions. Have a happy Thanksgiving and there will be more tips tomorrow!

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cap, captain miss america

Thanksgiving Tip of the Day: Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Let me tell you about potatoes.

When I was a kid, we had Thanksgiving at my cousin’s house, with tons and tons of aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents all over the place. We weren’t really little when this tradition started– I think I was ten or eleven, and I was right smack in the middle, age-wise..

My cousin decided to give each kid a job to help out with Thanksgiving. Jobs were age-appropriate: the little kids had to fold napkins, the older kid had to prepare part of the meal. My cousin Jake and I were assigned to make mashed potatoes– Jake was older than me, so I think the idea was that he could cook and I could mash, or something.

The first year, most of the kids did their jobs. The second year, some of the kids did their jobs. By the fifth year, Jake and I were the only kids still doing our job, and we had gotten super elaborate with our potatoes. One year we made garlic mozzarella potatoes, another year we made bacon cheddar ones. We experimented like crazy and found lots of tricks to make our potatoes super yummy.

It got to the point where een when Jake wasn’t around, I always made the mashed potatoes for everything. Christmas. Regular family dinners.

I don’t have pictures of my potatoes, because I haven’t made them yet today, but I wanted to get up potato tips for all of you who want help with your potatoes.

Here are my standard potatoes. They’re plain, so you can add whatever you want– garlic, bacon, scallions, cheese, whatever.

Here is what you will need:

5 lbs of Yukon Gold or other mashing potatoes
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup whole milk, heavy cream, chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock
1/2 container sour cream
Salt, pepper, and seasonings to taste

Here is what you do:

–Put a big pot of water on to boil. Put about a teaspoon of salt in.
–Peel your potatoes and cut them into 1″ chunks. DON’T do this ahead! Your potatoes will discolor!
–Once the water is boiling, turn it to moderate heat and put the potatoes in. Cover it up!
–Cook about 20 minutes, till potatoes are tender when you poke them with a fork.
–WHILE the potatoes are cooking, put your butter in a skillet. DON’T microwave it. Do it this way. Stir it with a wooden spoon or fork and cook it on moderate to high heat until it turns the color of caramel. This is called browning butter. Once it’s caramel colored, pull it off the stovetop, quick! It will brown a little more in the pan.
–Put the cream/milk/whatever in the microwave on LOW just till it’s warm to the touch. You can also do this in a saucepan.
–Drain the potatoes into a colander but leave a little of the water in the pot.
–Now mash the potatoes, just slightly.
–Pour in the browned butter and mash them until they’re mixed well.
–Now add the warm liquid. Add a little at the time and mash it in until it is the consistency you like. You might not need all of it.
–Now add the sour cream. Like the liquid, fold it in a little at a time. If it seems like too much, don’t worry about adding all of it.

Now your potatoes are perfect! You can add more salt, some pepper, and anything else you like! Yum!

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