We’re all looking for ways to make Thanksgiving cooking less stressful, which is why these holiday turkey tips from celebrity chef Sara Moulton and Chef's Choice, the knife sharpener company, come in handy.
Sara says, “First, decide what kind and what size of turkey you’re going to buy.” She recommends buying one pound of bird per person, to allow for leftovers. “If you’re buying a frozen bird, note when to start defrosting it in the fridge. You’ll need 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds,” she says.
Then start focusing on the side dishes. “Prepare the gravy a day ahead, then ‘marry’ it to the drippings in roasting pan while the turkey is resting.” says Sara. “Other essential dishes to prepare ahead are stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Cook and rice the potatoes, then refrigerate. On Thanksgiving, ‘nuke’ them and add softened butter and warm milk.”
Sara also recommends creating a timetable listing everything you are going to prepare and when and post it on the fridge. This will help preparation go more smoothly.
Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping? Sara’s cookbooks make great holiday gifts!
Turkey carving tips
According to Chef's Choice, “sharp knives are not only safer, they’l help you smoothly cut thin, even slices without shredding the meat. After the turkey is cooked, cool for 20 minutes. Cooling makes meat firmer and easier to slice. Remove and set aside the legs and last joint of each wing. Make a long, deep (to the bone), horizontal ‘base cut’ into the breast just above wing. Slice down vertically through breast until you meet the original base cut. This will release perfect, even slices.”
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This Mama’s tips for Make Ahead Gravy
- If you’re gluten free, try a gluten free all-purpose flour blend or rice flour to thicken the gravy.
- Instead of flour, you could also use rice or corn starch as a gluten free alternative. Mix 3 tablespoons starch with 3 tablespoons broth or water. Mix thoroughly then whisk the mixture into your broth. (You can eliminate the butter unless you want it for flavoring.) Whisk to boil and simmer until it thickens.
- Instead of butter, use a buttery spread to lower saturated fat or a vegan buttery spread if you’re trying to avoid dairy.
- If you are abstaining from alcohol, use apple, white grape, or pear juice instead of wine.
Sara Mouton’s Make-Ahead Gravy
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken or turkey broth, heated
- 1/2 cup dry red or white wine
- reserved liquid from turkey roasting drippings
- reserved liquid from turkey resting platter
- In medium saucepan over moderate low heat, melt butter.
- Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 5 minutes.
- Add broth in a stream, whisking to boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Let gravy cool, transfer to a bowl and cover and chill overnight.
Thanksgiving Day directions to finish gravy
- Platter your cooked turkey and cover it loosely with foil.
- Pour drippings into a fat separator and discard fat.
- Place bird roasting pan on two burners of the stovetop and use medium heat. (Make sure your roasting pan is stove top safe. Do NOT do this with a glass roasting pan.)
- Add wine and reserved drippings, scraping up the brown bits on bottom of pan.
- Whisk in premade gravy and any juices from resting turkey.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, cooking until hot, and serve with your bird.
- Serving size: Makes about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of gravy per person.
Recipe and photo used with permission.
Originally published on November 11, 2010. Updated with new photos and information.