Thanksgiving is almost here, thank goodness.
The scent of turkey and stuffing will be in the air at most homes, but if you've slacked off this year or are struggling to come up with a last-minute recipe, here are some quick tips to get you on your way.
Clint Salapek, culinary arts instructor at the Warren County Career Center, provided these tips on preparing your turkey this year:
Times Observer photo by Brian Collins
Tips from the Chef
Clint Salapek contemplates how to prepare his turkey this Thanksgiving. Salapek is the Culinary Arts instructor at the Warren County Career Center.
For those using an oven:
Try a brine. It keeps the turkey moist and tenderizes it all in one step. For best results, a brine should sit for two or three days in a five-gallon bucket with some sort of weight on it to keep it submerged. (If you're trying this last minute, it will still work but not to the same extent.)
After soaking in the brine, remove the turkey and towel it off.
Rub down the turkey with olive oil and some Italian seasoning
Bake at 350 degrees
Using a meat thermometer, check the temperature. The turkey should reach 165 degrees at the thickest part, but as far from bone as possible to avoid false readings.
Wait 20 to 30 minutes before carving the turkey to allow the juices to redistribute and soak into the meat, otherwise the meat will be dry.
For those using a deep-fryer:
Don't use it on the porch or near your house!
Use in a well-vented area.
Do NOT drop a frozen turkey into the hot deep-fryer. This can cause severe injury, fire, or even death as moisture reacting with hot oil causes a volatile reaction. Try running the turkey under cold tap water for up to four hours to aid in defrosting.
Make sure the oil is up to temperature 350 degrees before you add the turkey. The turkey will lower the temperature of the oil so it's alright for it to be around 375.
You can use peanut oil, soybean shortening oil, vegetable oil, or corn oil. Salapek believes peanut oil provides the best flavor, but be aware of allergies.
Cooking time will vary, typically 12 to 14 minutes per pound. Again, use of a meat thermometer is advised.
For your consideration, Salapek has provided this recipe for a brine:
1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 gallon chicken broth, 1 cup salt, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1 tablespoon sage, and 1 tablespoon thyme combined in a large pot with 1 gallon of ice water to be added later.
Bring the ingredients to a boil until the salt and sugar dissolves. Then add the ice water. Transfer the brine into a five-gallon bucket and add the turkey. Allow to sit for 24 to 72 hours.
As with all cooking, safety is important. The Warren Fire Department has offered these tips on holiday fire safety:
Never leave your cooking unattended. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire injuries.
Keep anything that can catch fire away from stovetops. Turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if just for a short period.
When simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, make sure to use a timer and to check it regularly.
They also suggest creating a 'kid-free zone' of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drinks will be prepared or carried.
If a fire does break out, get out immediately and close the door behind you to help contain the fire.