T-Minus 7: Turkey Tools, Pie Love, Get Your Chat Groove On
Fancy equipment is hardly a requirement for hosting Thanksgiving dinner, but if you're roasting a turkey, a few basic tools can go a long way in pulling off your production.
If you buy nothing else , buy these two tools:
1) An instant-read thermometer, for testing the doneness of the bird, safely and accurately (which by the way, should be 170ish degrees in the inner part of the leg). For less than ten bucks, you can get a pocket thermometer, either digital or plain-ole analog style, with a dial. I learned to appreciate the pocket thermometer I kept in my chef's jacket in cooking school and often give them as gifts to pass on the food safety vibrations. It's a must-have, all year long.
2) A roasting pan that is not disposable. I know the aluminum trays at the supermarket are irresistibly cheap and reduce the clean-up duty. Let me tell you a story; I once had a turkey nearly collapse in my lap because of those flimsy doodads. Try making gravy in one of these things, too. I'm not suggesting that you spend $100 on a fabulous roasting pan; but do pick one with a bit of heft to it. More expensive choices often include a rack, which is a nice option (particularly the v-shape), but if money is an issue, you can always make a veggie raft of carrots and celery to support your bird and everything still comes out gravy.
With an additional 30 dollars to burn, my two extra tools would be:
3) an extra cutting board, just for the turkey. It's makes good food safety sense to have separate boards for animal protein, to minimize risk of cross-contamination. By the way, when you're carving, place that cutting board inside a baking sheet to contain running juices and keeping things tidy.
4) To whet my appetite for culinary history and traditions, I'd buy a copy of "Giving Thanks," a new title by food historians Kathleen Curtin and Sandra L. Oliver. Focusing solely on the history and recipes of Thanksgiving, the book traces the events that got this party started, beginning in 1621. The recipes are a mélange, including Native American dishes, Americana kitsch (think Jell-O molds, Karo pecan pie) and immigrant specialties. I haven't liked a cookbook this much in a long time.
Those of you who have escaped hosting duties and haven't yet been given an assignment, make yourself useful, and I don't mean take out the trash.
Whaddya say about making some pies, in the privacy of your own kitchen, and dropping them off for Food & Friends' massive Thanksgiving meal delivery.
Food & Friends is a non-profit organization that prepares and delivers meals to people in the Washington area who are homebound with HIV/AIDS and other long-term illnesses. At Thanksgiving, the service goes gangbusters, feeding up to 3,000 people.
The pie thing goes like this: Make plain apple or pumpkin -- no raisins, nuts or extra fancy stuff. Pies must be no larger than 10 inches, fully cooked and preferably wrapped in foil. Drop-off pies at Food & Friends Nov. 21-22.
If making pies is not your thing, there is still a need for meal delivery drivers on Thanksgiving Day. A shift is usually 2 or 3 hours. For details, contact Food & Friends: 202/582-3463; email@example.com
Type to me for a solid hour, today at 1 ET.
I'm hosting a What's Cooking Thanksgivingpalooza. Be there or be stuffed. I'll bring the chestnuts.
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