Stuffing and Turkey
Q: My husband and his colleagues are planning a Thanksgiving dinner to be held at their office at the end of this week. My husband will cook the turkey and stuffing in our home the night before and take into work the day of the dinner. Our questions: Can the previously cooked stuffing, which contains pork, be reheated safely in a crock pot? If so, approximately how much time should be allowed for it to reheat? The crock pot (an old one) has 2 settings, "simmer low" and "simmer high," but there is no indication on the crock pot or in the instruction book as to what the actual temperatures are at those settings. The office has a microwave. Would it be better to reheat the stuffing in the microwave?
I got help on this question from Bonnie Benwick, an editor in the Food section, who offers this advice:
Call us crazy, but what's wrong with cold/room temperature stuffing? Reheating in a slow cooker is usually NOT advised because they warm so slowly. And for us, the microwave option gets a little tricky when you're reheating foods with multiple textures --- in this case, the vegetables, meat and bread in your stuffing.
Think about a third option: Reheat your stuffing in the oven, wrap its baking dish in foil, and place in a cooler. Layer/insulate with toweling or newspaper. You'd be surprised at how long your stuffing or side dishes can stay warm this way.
Q: My family loves a smoked turkey. I intend to have a regular fresh turkey and the smoked turkey for Thanksgiving. For the fresh turkey there is plenty of advice everywhere. NOTHING for smoked turkey. In the past, I simply placed it in the oven for two or three hours, carved and served. Not this Holiday. I want it to be attractive too. They really are different. What kind of stuffing is best for it? Bread stuffing; other meats; one with fruits or one with sausages; none? Will the dripping after warming it, if any, be sufficient, to make good gravy? If not, how should I prepare some gravy? From a bottle? How best to present it at the table? What are the best wines,veggies, dessert for this kind of stronger flavor meat?
Food section Editor Joe Yonan answered this question:
The best thing about a smoked turkey (besides that delightful flavor) is that it's already cooked, but that doesn't mean that there's no concern about how to heat it up correctly. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, put the turkey in a roasting pan, add a cup or so of water, tent it with foil, and roast for about two hours or until it registers 140 degrees on a thermometer.
With such strong-tasting meat, you need a dressing with some acidity or bite, which leads me to think of something with dried apricots or dried cranberries and nuts, which can help offset but still complement the smoky flavor. As for sides, think about things that would go well with grilled or barbecued meats.
As sides, we recommend baked macaroni and cheese, balsamic pearl onions, and corn pudding. Parmesan-pine nut biscuits from our section a few weeks ago would also work well.
As for gravy, you won't get enough drippings from the bird to make any, but since you're roasting another turkey, use that one to make the gravy. Or see our instructions in today's section for partially deboning a turkey to make extra meat and get a head start on stock for lots of flavorful gravy. Resist the bottle!
The best way to present it at the table is the same way you'd present a regular turkey: either whole on a platter, garnished beautifully, or carefully carved in the kitchen with the meat nicely fanned out on the plate. See the video of Kim O'Donnel and I with Bryan Voltaggio of Charlie Palmer Steak for carving tips.
In terms of desserts, your favorite pie is always a good idea, so no need to change that. And as for wine, columnist Ben Giliberti recommended dolcettos for barbecued meats and poultry this past summer and that would be delicious with a smoked turkey, too.
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