Where we can post kitchen tips, how to's and how not's. You know those little secretes that make mom's cooking so good. Also the basics like cutting and chopping techniques.
October 25, 2010 at 2:49 PM
Choosing the Right Size Turkey
For a large party, you'll need a big bird -- say, 15 to 20 pounds; figure 1 1/2 pounds for each person. Smaller birds -- 12 pounds or less -- have a smaller meat-to-bone ratio, so allow 2 pounds per person. Remember that the larger the bird, the more likely you are to have leftovers for the next few days.
Defrosting Frozen Turkey
It is best to thaw turkey in the refrigerator, where it's too cold for harmful bacteria to grow. Use the bottom shelf, in case of drips. Place the turkey, breast side up, in its original wrapper, onto a rimmed baking sheet. Plan ahead to allow a full day for every 4 pounds of turkey being thawed.
Cleaning the Turkey
When you bring a fresh turkey home or thaw out a frozen one, remove the giblets and save them for gravy stock. Rinse the turkey under cool running water, and dry it inside and out with paper towels
Choosing a Pan
If you make turkey and other roasted meats frequently, you should consider investing in a sturdy stainless steel pan that will last a lifetime. Heavy stainless performs much better than lightweight aluminum, and distributes heat evenly. And it won't sag under the weight of a big roast. Look for a rectangular pan just big enough to fit your turkey, with medium-height sides (about 3 inches) and strong handles you can rely on. A pan with a nonstick surface will not allow foods and meat juices to brown and caramelize. Some pans come with racks; if not, you will need to buy one.
Stuffing cooked inside a turkey is more flavorful and moist, but you run the risk of exposure to bacteria. Instead, cook the stuffing in a separate buttered casserole dish at 350 degrees; cover it with aluminum foil, and baste it occasionally with turkey juices. It only needs an hour of cooking time. If you do stuff the bird, make sure to do it right before the turkey goes in the oven, not ahead of time
If stuffing the turkey, do so just before roasting to prevent unwanted bacterial growth. Because the stuffing will expand as it bakes, fill the turkey's cavity loosely; this also allows the stuffing to cook more evenly and keeps it from becoming too dense. A 12- to 15-pound turkey needs about 10 cups of stuffing; a 15- to 20-pound bird can hold up to 12 cups. To test doneness before serving, insert an instant-read thermometer in the center of the stuffing to make sure it reaches 165 degrees.
Always roast the bird on a rack set in a shallow roasting pan so the oven heat circulates and helps the turkey to brown. After the first hour, baste the turkey often with pan drippings to keep the meat moist and give the skin an even color. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of a thigh, avoiding the bone, registers 165 degrees. Let the turkey rest, loosely tented with aluminum foil, for at least 30 minutes before carving so the juices can reabsorb. If the turkey is stuffed, remove the stuffing before carving.
How to Carve a Turkey
What You'll Need
While a whole roasted turkey is an impressive sight, so is a well-arranged platter of sliced meat -- and carving the bird before placing it on the table will make serving easier.
To prepare for carving, have the following equipment ready:
Warm serving platter
Pair of kitchen scissors
Flexible and sharp 10-inch slicing knife (a serrated blade will tear the meat)
Carving fork for arranging and serving the meat
Step 1: Preparation
Before carving the turkey, let it stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the juices to saturate the meat; then transfer the turkey from the roasting pan or presentation platter to a carving board (use layers of paper towels or two clean kitchen towels to protect your hands from the heat). The best way to hold the turkey steady is to use your hand -- a carving fork doesn't provide the same grip and will pierce and tear the flesh.
Next, cut through the trussing with scissors, taking care to remove all of the string.
Step 2: Remove Drumsticks
Remove the drumsticks first. Place the knife against the thigh, and cut down to expose the leg's second joint.
Step 3: Sever Drumsticks
Apply pressure at the joint with the knifepoint; twist the knife, and cut through to sever the drumstick. Repeat with the other drumstick.
Step 4: Slice Neck Cavity
Slice open the neck cavity with an oval incision that allows you to remove the stuffing while leaving the skin intact.
Step 5: Scoop Stuffing
Use a long-handled spoon to scoop out the stuffing from the body cavity; transfer it to a serving bowl.
Step 6: Slice Thigh Meat
Slice the thigh meat from the bone (the dark meat should be tender from resting in the juices).
Step 7: Slice Breast
Place the knife horizontally at the bottom curve of the bird's breast, and slice in toward the rib cage to create a "guide cut." Then make a slice from the top down alongside the rib cage. Be sure to cut carefully.
Step 8: Create Slices
Cut vertically through the breast meat to create medallion slices, being careful to preserve some of the skin on each slice. Repeat steps 6 and 7 on the other side of the breast.
Place the knife at the first wing joint; insert the knifepoint, and twist it to sever the wing. Repeat with the other wing.
How Do I Sharpen Kitchen Knives at Home?
After visits to several knife shops you find the beauty that fits like it was made for your hand. You purchase the workhorse of the kitchen, a quality Chef's knife. Merrily, you chop away at onions and garlic, gleeful with the ease your blade makes of the work. The question begins to nag at your mind: Will this last forever? Can I keep the blade sharp and functioning like new? Here are a few tips for maintaining and sharpening your blade.
Basic Knife Care Tips:
Choose knife friendly cutting board.
Do: Cut on a thick plastic or wood cutting board.
Don't: Avoid cutting on stone, tile, granite, glass or hard surfaces.
Protect your blade, proper storage.
Do: Store knife in a knife block, divided drawer insert, on magnetic bar or with edge guard.
Don't: Toss loose knife in kitchen drawer or store in counter utensil holder.
More tips and how to sharpen after the jump.
Keep it clean (and dry):
Do: Wash knife by hand with warm soapy water. Dry immediately.
Don't: Place knife in dishwasher. Let knife sit in a drying rack.
Use not abuse:
Do: Form does follow function, use the right knife for the job and keep it in the kitchen.
Don't: Use your knife as a can opener, bottle opener, screwdriver, or ice pick!
Knife Sharpening Options:
When to leave it to the pros: Best if you don't want to fret over learning how to master knife sharpening at home. Preferable to correct problems or damaged blade: broken tip, chip in edge, or to thin out the edge. Check out Phoenix Knife House.
DIY the easy way: There are a vast array of manual and electric sharpeners for knife sharpening at home. The easiest to use manual sharpener is the pull-through. Pull-through sharpeners are constructed with a variety of abrasives and a pre-set angle to guide the knife. The adage "you get what you pay for" applies here. Not recommended if you allow your knives to go beyond "a little dull".
Electric sharpeners are quick and easy to use. Opt for the three stage electric sharpener: coarse grit, fine-grit and polish (no grit) for best results. The coarse grit is best to bring back a dull blade. Use the polish setting like a honing steel to maintain the knife-edge. Avoid the sharpener on the back of electric can openers.
Know before you buy:
The type of abrasive and its grit (coarseness) determine how much metal is removed during sharpening and the final polish of the blade. Diamond abrasives sharpen quickly but often with a rough edge. Ceramic abrasives offer a slower grind and finer edge. Some sharpeners use a combination of abrasives.
Models with adjustable angles offer control over the finished knife-edge. European style knives and Japanese style knives have different angels. To maintain the original angle on the knife, use a manual or electric sharpener recommended for that style (European or Japanese) of knife.
DIY hands on: A sharpening stone takes some practice and some patience to use. After a little practice, the results are gratifying and worth the effort!
Sharpening stones come in a variety of materials (ceramic, diamond, and natural stone) as well as degree (fine to coarse) of grit. We prefer a whetstone or water stone. A double-sided stone should have a medium grit for sharpening and a fine grit for finishing. Like sandpaper, the higher the grit number, the finer the grit.
Carol Blonder Soaking whetstone
Remove the stone from the water.
Place the stone, coarse side up, on a clean towel to prevent sliding
Hold the knife to the stone, blade side down and find the correct angle:
European blade (20-22 degrees): Hold knife perpendicular (90 degrees) to whetstone, tilt the knife ½ the distance from blade to stone (45 degrees) tilt the knife another ½ width the distance from blade to stone (22 degrees).
Japanese blade (15-17 degrees): Hold knife perpendicular (90 degrees) to whetstone, tilt the knife ½ the distance from blade to stone (45 degrees) tilt the knife another ½ the distance from blade to stone (20-23 degrees) tip additional 1/8 inch (15-17 degrees).
Carol Blonder Knife sharpening on prepared whetstone
Beginner tip: Use an angle guide or a binder clip to gauge perfect angle.
Expert tip: Mark the edge on each side with a permanent marker, test the angle (follow directions below) with one or two strokes on each side. If the mark is gone you have the correct angle, if the mark is left on lower edge adjust by lifting angle, if the mark is left on upper edge, lower the angle.
Parent tip: Grab your young one's protractor.
Hold the knife by its handle in one hand.
Place your fingertips on top of the blade, close to the edge, with the other hand.
Apply gentle, even pressure with your fingertips.
At the prescribed angle, move the blade in an arc across the stone, work from the heel to the tip of the blade, maintain the angle as you work.
Stroke each side 10 times.
As you grind the blade on one side, an invisible burr (a raised "lip" or fold over) forms on the edge of the opposite side.
Turn whetstone over to fine grit and repeat process using less pressure.
Test: Hold a piece of paper with one hand, the knife should easily stroke through the paper.
Tip: Maintain the edge of your blade between sharpening with the honing steel; knife to steel angle is the same angle as used for sharpening. Honing does not sharpen the knife!
How often you need to sharpen your knife depends on use. If your knife will not cut through the skin of a tomato or drags through a piece of citrus, time to sharpen!
Substitutions For Baking
If The Recipe Calls For:
arrowroot (1 Tbs.)
1 Tbs. cornstarch, potato starch, or rice starch or
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
baking powder (1 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar + 1/4 tsp. baking soda + 1/4 tsp. cornstarch
baking soda (1/2 tsp.)
2 tsp. baking powder (must replace the acidic liquid in recipe with non-acidic liquid)
butter (1 cup)
7/8 cup vegetable oil
buttermilk (1 cup)
1 cup plain yogurt or
1 Tbs. white vinegar or lemon juice and enough milk to equal 1 cup; let stand for a few minutes
chocolate, unsweetened (1 oz)
3 Tbs. cocoa powder + 1 Tbs. butter
chocolate, semi-sweet (1 oz)
1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate + 1 Tbs. sugar
chocolate, sweet (4 oz)
1/4 cup cocoa powder + 1/3 cup sugar + 3 Tbs. shortening
chop a bar of chocolate into small chunks
cream of tartar (1/2 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. white vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 Cup Oil, Butter or Margarine
1/4 Cup Applesauce + 1/4 Cup Canola Oil, Butter, or Margarine
2 Egg Whites
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Nonfat Sweetened Condensed Milk
Evaporated Skim Milk
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips, Chopped Dried Fruit, or Chopped Nuts
Sliced Fresh Fruit with a dusting of Powdered Sugar
Nonfat Sour Cream, Low fat Sour Cream, Pureed Low Fat Cottage Cheese
Low Fat Cream Cheese
Artificial sweetener for some or all (follow manufacturer’s directions); 1/4 to 1/2 Less Sugar in the recipe
Forms of Rice and Best Uses
Worldwide there are more than 40,000 different varieties of rice. Here are some of the common and popular varieties.
Description: This rice is small and can be sticky when cooked
Cooking hints: This rice needs to be soaked over night and then cooked with 1 part rice and 2 parts salted liquid for 20 minutes. Steam for 5 minutes before serving.
- Sticky sweet snacks
- Croquettes and burgers
Description: Very flavorful, it yields a stickier, softer product. It is especially good when a creamy texture or stickiness is desired
Cooking hints: This rice needs to be soaked for 20 minutes to relax the grain. Use one part rice to one and 1/8 part of water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until done.
- Sticky sweet snacks
- Japanese sushi
- Rice balls
- Croquettes and burgers
- SushiLong-Grain (brown)
Description: Chewy, with a firm texture and nutty flavor. Looks golden brown and fluffy after it is cooked.
Cooking hints: This rice needs to be soaked over night and then cooked with an equal weight of water for 20 minutes. Steam for 5 minutes before serving.
- Stir fry
- Side dishes
- Plain boiled white rice
Description: Long, polished kernels. Bland and somewhat firm in texture. Yields a drier, fluffy rice. Long grained rice such as the Basmati and Jasmine are also aromatic.
Cooking hints: Bring 1 part rice and 2 parts salted liquid to a boil; lower the heat. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
Converted Rice (a.k.a. parboiled)
- Stir fry
- Side dishes
- Plain boiled white rice
- Not very good for puddings, burgers or any dish where the rice is not displayed whole. For such dishes parboiled rice or short grained rice is preferred.
Description: The process of parboiling is from south India where steam was passed through the grains with the husks on. The nutrients are embedded into the grain by this procedure. The rice is polished after this teaming is done. This results in more nutritious rice than white rice and more digestible rice than brown rice. . For this reason other Asian countries that depended on rice as their staple sometimes had survey, but the Indians avoided it due to the process of parboiling. Also, This procedure gelatinizes the starch in the grain, and ensures a firmer, more separate grain. Consumers and chefs who desire extra fluffy and separate cooked rice favor parboiled rice.
Cooking hints: This rice requires no rinsing due to its enrichment. Bring 1 part rice and 2 parts salted liquid to a boil; lower the heat. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes
- an all purpose rice
- good for south Indian Idlis
- for pilafs
- plain boiled rice
- Excellent rice for side dishes along with vegetables.
Description: This is white rice so it does not contain any fiber. Nutrients are added back and they coat the rice.
Cooking hints: This rice requires no rinsing due to its enrichment. Bring 1 part rice and 2 parts salted liquid to a boil; lower the heat. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Cooking varies as to the type of rice used
Best Uses: Depends on type of the rice usedInstant Rice (pre-cooked)
Description: This rice has been completely cooked and then dehydrated. It is good for quick cooking when life gets too busy and one wants to have a quick rice dish.
Cooking hints: Read the label as cooking directions vary as per the manufacturer. This rice may not be rinsed as it may be coated with nutrients. Generally a given amount of boiled water is poured over the rice to re-hydrate it.
- side dishes
- burgers with boiled leftover vegetables
Cutting A Roast so it can be Stuffed
To cut a 2-3 pound roast so that it can be filled and rolled, cut horizontally down length of roast about 1/2 inch from top of pork to within 3/4 inch of opposite side; open flat. Turn roast so that you can cut the other side. Repeat with other side of roast, cutting from the inside edge to the outer edge; open flat.
NOTE: Should open like a tri-fold wallet.
If roast is thicker than 3/4 inch, cover wtih plastic wrap and pound until about 3/4 inch thickness and remove the plastic wrap.