Turkey Tuesday Roundup 2014

Turkey Tuesday Roundup 2014



Well it is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I want to give my annual quick tips. Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for any cook. Accepting or asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It can the one thing that keeps you sane during this sometimes stressful holiday. Below I have listed a few tips and shortcuts that can help ease your stress and make your thanksgiving a tad bit more joyous.  Be as prepared as possible.  I have created a sample menu and timing that you can use to make Thanksgiving as easy as possible.  Also, there are plenty of tips from what turkey to choose all the way to how to cook a frozen turkey.  Its all in there.

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Big Game Buffalo Wings

Big Game Buffalo Wings

Nothing says football like buffalo wings.  I have compiled a list of the best buffalo wing recipes on Savoryreviews.com.  Each of the wing recipes below use a different sauce and each uses a different method for cooking.  Feel free to browse and then mix and match the sauces with the various methods of cooking.  My favorite is the grilled method.  It produces a crispy skin with a light smokey flavor.  A winner every time.

Boneless Buffalo Wings

Boneless Buffalo Wings
Boneless Buffalo Wings

Simple and delicious, nothing beats a boneless wing.  These take minimal effort to make and even less effort to eat.  If you are looking for a simple big game treat that is easy to eat.  This is you wing.

Grilled Hot Wings

Grilled Hot Wings
Grilled Hot Wings

Grilled wings are the best way to clear out the kitchen.  Move the cooking outside and keep the house calm and cool.

Chipotle Peach Hot Wings

Peach Hot wings
Chipotle Peach Hot Wings

A sweet heat is the way to go.  You can use this sauce on boneless, grilled or traditional wings.  It is a winner each and every time I make it.

Buffalo Wing Pizza

Layer on the chicken and cheese
Buffalo Chicken Wing Pizza

Sick of having chicken bones all over your house after a party.  This is the easiest solution.  Throw the chicken on a pizza and you will score a touchdown in no time.

Award Winning Hot Wing Recipe

The wings taste great with bleu cheese dressing.
Award Winning Hot Wing Recipe.  The wings taste great with bleu cheese dressing.

The sauce that made me famous.  Well famous in my own mind.  This sauce won me the cup and will definitely win you fans at your big game party.  Takes a little prep, but is well worth it. You can use this sauce on boneless, grilled or traditional wings.

Hope these recipes will help you out on this super Sunday.  If you have any questions regarding your game day wings feel free to email me using the Ask Rex link in the menu above.  I will be available all day to help you through your game day prep.


Turkey Tuesday Roundup 2012

Turkey Tuesday Roundup 2012

Smoked Turkey

Well it is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I want to give my annual quick tips. Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for any cook. Accepting or asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It can the one thing that keeps you sane during this sometimes stressful holiday. Below I have listed a few tips and shortcuts that can help ease your stress and make your thanksgiving a tad bit more joyous.  There are plenty of tips from what turkey to choose all the way to how to cook a frozen turkey.  Its all in there.

Choose your turkey wisely…

Choose a turkey based on the number of guests. Average is about 1lb per person. Sounds like a lot, but remember a turkey contains bones and fat. It will roughly give you about 6-8oz serving per person. When the number of guests reaches over 12, I would rather cook two smaller birds than a giant 20lb bird. The smaller birds cook quicker, more evenly and some would say (AKA me) taste better.

Check your local supermarket and sign up for a rewards card. They always offer a bird for less than $0.75 a pound. I paid $0.39 a pound at food lion. This can sometimes mean that you can get a 10 lb bird for less than a 4 lb turkey breast. Thanksgiving leftovers are awesome so this might be something to think about.

Make sure your bird will fit into your oven and/or roasting pan. Sometimes large birds look good in the store, but when you get home it won’t fit into the fridge, oven and/or roasting pan. Go to the store with a plan.

Thaw the Bird

Allow the turkey to thaw for 3-4 hours per pound. So if you have a 16lb turkey give yourself about 48 – 64 hours to let it thaw. That means that it should be in the fridge as you read this.

If you are reading this on the Wednesday before or even on Thanksgiving, I have a solution for you.

How to Cook a Frozen Turkey

You can easily cook your turkey from frozen.  The step by step instructions are here.  This is a super easy method and the bird comes out great.  You can’t infuse it with crazy flavors, but if you like roasted turkey this is the way to go.

How to Cook a Frozen Turkey

Brine the Turkey

If you do have time, you might want to think about brining your turkey. Even though Thanksgiving is only two days away you have plenty of time to brine the bird. Check out my post on how to brine a turkey for instructions. If you find yourself with a frozen bird. Add it to a brine and thaw it in the fridge to do double duty and increase the speed of thaw.

Double Check the Temperature

Use a probe thermometer. Sounds fancy but it takes the guess work out of cooking. Want to know how people get perfectly juicy birds, it is based on temperature not time. Place the probe into the breast meat, making sure not to touch the bone. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove the bird from the oven, tent in aluminum foil and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

If you do not have a probe thermometer, cook the bird for 14 minutes a pound and then check the temperature in the breast with a meat thermometer. They are available at almost all supermarkets.  If it is under 160, cook for another 10 minutes and check again.  Repeat until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Don’t use the pop-up thermometer.

Pop-up thermometers are set to spring at 175 degrees. At that temperature the breast is already too dry. Plus remember that once it pops you need to let the bird rest. Yep, that turkey is gonna be 180+ degrees by the time it is served. Definitely not good.

The approximate time till eating is roughly 19 minutes a pound. Includes resting time.

Stuffing is for the birds, maybe not

I don’t recommend that you stuff the bird with stuffing. The internal temperature of the bird will not reach a temperature that is hot enough to kill the bacteria that will be absorbed by the stuffing. The only cure for this is to make the stuffing separately (AKA dressing). If you wish, you can cook the bird and the stuffing separately and then assemble them together before serving. That way you get the nice Norman Rockwell presentation.

Keys for seasoning a turkey…

Rub a mixture of olive oil and herbs under the skin and over it. You have to season the bird under the skin for the best results. See the herb paste that I made for my boneless turkey breast.

Rub the turkey

Using an injector you can pierce the outer layer and season the turkey from within. Coolness factor – by using a herb oil you can add ribbons of green throughout the turkey. This makes for an eye catching bird when you carve it.

Layer on the pork. Adding a bacon layer over the breast allows for added flavor and further prevents the breast from drying out.

Stuff the inside with aromatics. Halve an onion, some lemons and fresh herbs. Unlike stuffing these won’t be eaten and will add a tremendous amount of flavor to the finished bird.

Cooking the Turkey…

Place the seasoned turkey breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. If you don’t have a rack, make one out of carrots and celery. Make sure the turkey is not sitting on the bottom of the pan. Add a 1/2 cup of water or your favorite white wine to the bottom of the pan.

Start the turkey in a preheated 325 degree oven. Cook until the internal temperature is about 140-145 degrees.

Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the breast is 160 degrees.

Take the turkey out of the oven and wrap in foil. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. During this time the turkey will continue to cook and bring the temperature of the breast to 165 degrees.

Gravy tips…

Use the giblets. They package them with the turkeys for a reason. While you are cooking the turkey, simmer the giblets. Place them in a pot and cover them with chicken stock. Add an onion, a couple stalks of celery and a couple carrots. Season with a little salt, pepper, 1 tsp sage, 1/2 tsp thyme, and a bay leaf. Simmer for 2-3 hours. Strain out the solids and you have a perfect stock for making gravy.

Make a roux. Basically the start of gravy is to make a roux. Take 2 tbs butter and 2 tbs flour. Add them to a sauce pan and stir until brown in color. This will take the flour taste out of the flour and give you a rich nutty flavor as the base of your gravy. The key to a roux gravy is to use 2 tbs fat (butter) with 2 tbs flour along with 1 cup of stock.

You can use a slurry of water or chicken stock, and flour to thicken your gravy, but make sure to simmer it for at least 30 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. The slurry is a 1 to 1 mixture. 1 part liquid, 1 part flour.

Don’t for get to add a splash of that starchy potato water.

Deglaze the roasting pan with 1/4 cup of your favorite wine. Reduce and use that along with the giblet stock to make an amazing gravy.

After adding your roux, giblet stock, roasting pan drippings and a dash of starchy potato water, make sure to simmer for at least 15 minutes to allow the gravy to thicken.

Enjoy yourself…

Cooking is fun, don’t let a turkey stress you out.

The turkey and the gravy can use a bit of wine, so can you. When I cook it is a 3-1 ratio. Three glasses for me and one for cooking.  For the long cooks this can get a little dicey.  Make sure to have a backup cook on hand if you use this ratio.

A meat thermometer is the only way to cook a turkey. No checking charts or guessing based on a pop-up thermometer.

Make as many of the sides and desserts the day before. If you don’t have too much to do, you can relax with your guests and have a good time watching the Lions lose once again.

If you have any questions click the Ask Rex link in the top menu. I will be available all week, even on Thanksgiving.

Other Options for Cooking

How to Smoke a Turkey

How to Fry a Turkey

How to cook a Frozen Turkey

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Fried Apples

Fried Apples

Last weekend Dana and I were out running errands and decided to hit up Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  Along with every meal, they serve fried apples.  I was mesmerized by the tasty apple goodness.  I had to make these for myself.  So I scoured the internet to see if anyone has tried these and there were a ton of recipes.  I remember the texture and it was similar to stewed apples.  However, the sauce over them was thick and delicious.  So it seemed like a sauce.  Then I stumbled over a recipe that stewed the apples and then covered them with a delicious apple sauce.  After trying it, I knew right then and there that it was the closest thing that I would get to the fried apples at Cracker Barrel.

Fried Apples – (Adapted from Princesa9580)

  • 2 1/2 cups Apple Juice
  • 4 large golden delicious apples
  • 3 tbs corn starch
  • 3 tbs white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom

Core the apples and then slice them into 1/2 inch segments.   In a large skillet or saucepan, bring 2 cups of apple juice and the sliced apples to a boil.  Note – I used Fuji Apples instead of Golden Delicious.  Not as good but they work and they are what I had on hand.

Slice the Apples and place into a pan with the apple juice

Once at a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Stir frequently so that the apples cook evenly.  Simmer until the apples are fork tender.

Simmer until Tender

Carefully remove the apples from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them into a large dish.

Cooked Apples

In a small bowl whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of apple juice, cornstarch, sugars, and spices.

Whisked Spices

Pour the spiced mixture into the hot apple juice in the pan.  Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  When the mixture thickens and bubbles it is ready.

Bubbly and Delicious

Pour the thickened apple sauce over the apples and serve.

Fried Apples

I made this before dinner and placed the apples in an oven-safe dish.  I then covered the dish and placed it in the oven to keep warm until we were ready to eat.   The apples were delicious and came as close as possible to the Cracker Barrel apples.

Fried Apples

This recipe works best with a firm tart apple, like a golden delicious.  I used what I had lying around (Fuji) and they did not have the right texture.  However, it was still delicious.

Epic Failure – Sun-dried Tomato Tilapia

Epic Failure – Sun-dried Tomato Tilapia

Even a food blogger has an epic failure every once in a while.  I have found that these posts get the most interest.  Maybe it is because it shows that even bloggers have faults.  I have no idea.  However, today is one for the books.  I have pan fried and finished many tilapia in my life.  Check out the blog post here.  I have also had many epic failures, check them out here.  However, this time I wanted to add a little tartness with sun dried tomatoes.  Sounds good right?  I have seen it before, however my execution was horrible. Well here was the recipe and the smoking hot story.

Sun Dried Tomato Tilapia

  • 4 Tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tbs sun dried tomatoes, fine dice
  • 1 tbs of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs butter
  • Rinse the fillets and gently pat dry.  No need to completely dry the fillets, just enough so that water is not dripping off them.

    Beautiful Tilapia Fillets

    Dice up the sun dried tomatoes as finely as possible.  The use of a food processor would have been helpful.

    Diced Sun Dried Tomatoes

    Then assemble the breading on a large plate or pie tin. Combine the the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

    Preheat the skillet over medium/high heat.  Add the oil and the butter.  At the same time turn on the broiler to low and set the rack about 6-8 inches from the heat.  If your broiler only has one temperature, then you will need to cook the fish for a little less time below.  I will note the difference.

    Dredge the fish into the breadcrumb mixture.  Coat both sides.  Remember that not too much of the breading with stick to the fish.  This will be lightly coated.  Just to add a little texture without weighing down the fish.

    Dredged Fish

    Once the butter and oil are hot, place the fish into the preheated pan.  Sear on one side for 2-3 minutes, or until the breading starts to brown.

    Flip the fish using a spatula and then place the pan under the broiler.  At this point everything was going great.  Then the shit hit the fan.  I did not realize that sun dried tomatoes would instantly light on fire when under the broiler.  The fish needed to be under the broiler for 4-5 minutes.   I put the fish under the broiler turn around and within a minute the smoke alarm was going off.  The tomatoes instantly caught fire and ruined the dish.

    Super Crispy Tilapia

    Not sure how to remedy the situation.  I guess the first this would be to not finish the tilapia under the broiler.  However, what is the fun in that.  I think maybe soaking the tomatoes in a liquid to rehydrate them a bit before using them.  However, I was hoping the dried texture would add to the dish.  Any thoughts let me know.