November 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm
by Irina Gonzalez
Since you love our Slow Cooker Chats on Facebook so much, this week we held a very special Thanksgiving talk. We invited you to ask questions and share your recipes with our assistant food editor Melissa Knific. Read on for the full story and ask more questions in our comments, below.
Family Circle: Let’s start with questions about TURKEY! What are your concerns, questions, and what kind are you making this year?
Barbara: I combine melted butter and canola oil then add pressed garlic, Bell’s seasoning and herbs. Then I loosen all of the skin on the turkey and pour this mixture under the skin and make sure to massage it all around the bird. Comes out great.
Melissa: That is a great tip. Rubbing the meat underneath the skin will help retain moisture.
Melissa: Has anyone tried deep-frying a turkey?
Melissa: Our family has been deep-frying our turkey for the last several years. It tastes great and isn’t nearly as greasy as one would expect. Plus, it gives us extra time to work on the sides!
Jennifer: We’re planning to fry our turkey this year…thinking about getting an oil-free fryer. Or is it better with the oil?
Melissa: I’ve actually never used an oil-free fryer. However, I always use the regular fryer (with peanut oil) and it turns out great.
Rachel: I put canola oil on the skin and under, season with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and cook breast side down. Always perfect!
Renee: We go against the flow. My family prefers ham to turkey so we usually have a little of both.
Renee: make cornbread dressing as a side where I live. We don’t call it stuffing down here.
Barbara: Hi! i am planning to roast a turkey in my Rival 18 qt. electric roaster so that I have room in my oven for a turkey breast and heating up appetizers and sides. I am wondering if you have any tips on cooking the turkey in the roaster. Thanks
Melissa: Using a roaster should take about the same time as cooking it in the oven. Don’t forget to baste it for extra juiceiness!
Peggy: I am using my smoker to cook the turkey. What kind of wood is best?
Melissa: I love applewood or hickory chips (or a combo of both.) Be sure to pre-soak them in water.
Belinda: what’s the best way to keep your turkey moist?
Melissa: Keep your turkey moist by basting it. However, don’t keep your oven open too long, as much of the heat will escape and the cooking will take forever.
Katherine: We cut our turkey in half to cook which makes a juicier bird. My question is how often should we baste it based on how we cook it are there any new or unusual flavors we can try to shake things up?
Melissa: The amount of basting time is up to you (keep your oven light on, and if it looks like it needs some liquid, go ahead and baste). But as I said, don’t keep your oven open for long. You oven temperature will drop and cooking will take far longer than expected. Try taking the turkey out of the oven and basting it, then putting it back in.
Melissa: In terms of different flavors, why not try shaking things up with Mexican spices? Cumin and ancho chili powder would be nice. You could put limes in the cavity.
Melissa: What do you do with leftover turkey?
Family Circle: Check out some of our favorite recipes for holiday leftovers.
Melissa: Does anyone cook stuffing in the turkey? Or do you cook it separately in a baking dish?
Michelle: I always cook my stuffing seperately : )
Michelle: What are your thoughts on cooking a turkey in a cooking bag versus roasting in a pan and basting?
Melissa: Cooking in a bag will help retain moisture (thus resulting in a juicy bird), but the skin might not get as crispy as you’d like.
Family Circle: What are some of your Thanksgiving sides? Do you keep it traditional or do you try something new?
Mary: candied yams
Melissa: Yum! I love yams and sweet potatoes. You should check out my recipe for Checkerboard Sweet Potatoes.
Susan: I make a sweet potato casserole that is souffle-like, with pecans and bourbon, and the last few years sauteed green beans, but I’m getting tired of them so will look for a new vegetable for this year. I thought no one but me liked the sweet potatoes because the entire family complained about them, but a few years ago I didn’t make them and they were outraged by that!
Susan: Everyone was like, “Where are the sweet potatoes?????”
Melissa: Sweet potatoes always seem to be a hit at my house, too.
Betsy: Made a sweet potatoe bread pudding before w/ cranberries and pecans….love it!!!
Colene: I love sweet potatoes. That sounds great Betsy!
Melissa: I love the idea of a sweet potato bread pudding!
Misti: We have to have my daddy’s cranberry salad. It is DELICIOUS!!!
Luana: I tried a new recipe yesterday – Butternut squash, Apples and Raisens with brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg! Delicious!
Melissa: That sounds like a great recipe. Was the squash roasted and mashed?
Betsy: Looking for alternative to “green bean casserole”…suggestions??
Melissa: Glad you asked! Check out my Beans & Brussels Sprouts recipe I developed for our Thanksgiving issue this year. You make the soup (instead of buying canned soup) and you can serve the remaining amount as an appetizer.
Kari: Very traditional…sweet potato casserole, rutabagas, cranberries, stuffing, mashed potatoes, boiled onions and last but not least watermelon pickles Same meal my Grandma always made
Melissa: I just saw you mentioned something about your grandma’s watermelon pickles. Details!
Kari: The watermelon pickles were made from watermelon rinds…I am not a canner so I now have to buy my watermelon pickles…Reese Brand are my favs
Melissa: Thanks for sharing. I will have to develop a pickled watermelon rind recipe!
Kari: My friend makes them…easy to make and taste wonderful! Maybe when I will try them… when I quit working so much lol
Melissa: Cooking is the perfect stress reliever!
Kari: I do agree! I just need to make myself find the time to do the things I enjoy
Barbara: I’d like to make my mashed potatoes ahead of time. Any recipes I’ve found have cream cheese and sour cream, which my family does not like. Can’t I just make them the old fashioned way and heat the pan in the oven?
Melissa: Cream and sour cream are a great combo with mashed potatoes, but they aren’t necessary. A bit of liquid is, though, or they’ll be completely dry (especially if they’re staying warm in the oven). Maybe try some chicken or vegetable stock. Stir in a bit and heat through when you’re ready to serve.
Colleen: Make your mashed potatoes however you like, whenever you like, simply put them in a crock pot on low with a few pats of butter and they will be perfect at dinnertime…..
Jennifer: The staples have always been my favorite– mashed potatoes and corn!
Melissa: How do you serve the corn?
Colene: I made this Challah bread pudding one year with cranberries and cream. It was delicious. I’m going to make it this year, but with homemade Challah bread.
Melissa: Does anyone plan on experimenting with any new vegetables?
Modern Mrs. Cleaver: I’m switching up the normal stuffing this year and stuffing acorn squash instead with my recipe here.
Melissa: Sounds good to me. (Nice blog name, too!)
Deb: traditional, but skipping the green bean casserole this year
Trista: Hot corn casserole is a staple in our house on thanksgiving and so easy to make!!
Kiesha: If my mom quit making homemade noodles cooked in the turkey juice, I would be upset.
Renee: My fave sides are the cornbread dressing, deviled eggs, rolls, fruit cocktail/salad and cheese spaghetti
Family Circle: Don’t forget to also try some of our favorite standout holiday sides.
Family Circle:What about Thanksgiving dessert? What is everyone making? Melissa, what are your best suggestions for a great end-of-the-meal treat?
Melissa: I mean, nothing says Thanksgiving more to me than pumpkin pie (with homemade crust, of course).
Melissa: However, I always love a fruit pie as well. I’m a big fan of blueberry, and my husband’s family loves fresh cherry pie. (The cherries were so good this year I even froze a bit so I could make one.)
Family Circle: Try our pumpkin pie (and other crowd-pleasing desserts).
Melissa: Also, a chocolate option always has to be in the mix.
Kristine: Agree that there must always be something CHOCOLATE.
Melissa: Do you have any favorite chocolate desserts you make for Thanksgiving?
Dawn: Butterfinger cake
Melissa: Yum! Is this your own creation? Family tradition?
Melissa: Do you think dessert is where people experiment most at Thanksgiving?
Kristine: Spanish flan is a great idea for Thanksgiving!!
Melissa: I like that idea! It’s not too heavy, but perfectly sweet and satisfying.
Jennifer: Gluten-Free, Egg-Free Maple Pumpkin Pie with an Oat-Nut Crust!
Melissa: I love adding maple (pure maple syrup, of course) to my pumpkin pie.
Duffy: Ice Cream Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Ginger Snap Crust! Yum!!!
Melissa: Sounds great! Do you make your own ice cream? If not, what brand do you use? I love pumpkin ice cream!
Helen: Bailey’s Irish Cream pound cake, apple crumb pie w/ homemade whipped cream, and my multiple-allergic daughter will be having her own special cupcake.
Melissa: The pound cake sounds delicious! Do you have a recipe you can share?
Darlene: Here at my house there is always a Texas Brown Betty!
Melissa: Sounds great, too!
Teresa: what is a a texas brown betty please share… with ur fellow texans
Modern Mrs. Cleaver: I too would LOVE to hear more about the brown betty!
Joan: Brown Betty has been a family favorite at Thanksgiving since the 1950′s.
Joan: You can google for Brown Betty recipes.
Joan: Just have put this all in one post, we made brown betty from left over bread scraps that were not used for the stuffing.
Brandy: Pumpkin cheescake Yum!!
Eimi: Pumpkin pie, pecan pie and Spanish flan. I can not wait!
Modern Mrs. Cleaver: Individual pumpkin cheesecakes and a peanut butter pie
Shauna: pecan pie.
Modern Mrs. Cleaver: Kids are asking for my carrot cake..cinch to make
Rebecca: Pumpkin Roll & Pecan Pie
Christine: Sweet potato pie and pecan pie
Melissa: I love hearing about all these different desserts. And to think everyone just made pie for Thanksgiving!
Melissa: Does everyone make their own pie crust or buy it?
Family Circle: Has anyone tried our pumpkin swirl cheesecake?
Family Circle: Let’s talk about Thanksgiving planning and prep! How far in advance do you prepare for the big day? Melissa, what recipes can be made ahead of time? Do you already have a full plan of what you’ll make?
Melissa: Our Thanksgiving issue had a great timeline. I made sure that all my dry goods and beverages are purchased a week in advance. If the turkey isn’t fresh, you can buy i then, too, and place in in the freezer.
Melissa: Make sure you give yourself enough time to thaw a turkey, however. You’ll need 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds.
Irina: I always wonder, if it better to thaw it in the sink in room temperature or in the fridge?
Melissa: Never thaw a turkey at room temperature! Safety guidelines don’t recommend it. Simply place it in a baking dish (large enough for any drainage) in the refrigerator and forget about it until Turkey Day!
Melissa: Appetizers (if you’re serving them) are great to prep ahead of time. Try my Goat Cheese-Pistachio ball (you can make it a day or two in advance and bring to room temperature upon serving).
Mandy: Working on the menu today, and figuring out what I can get at the grocery this weekend
Melissa: Do you find your grocery store sells out of Thanksgiving items fairly quickly?
Kari: My favorite Aunt sent me Thanksgiving prep instructions 28 years ago when I first got married and did my first dinner….I still use them today the best wedding present I ever received!
Melissa: That’s great! I hope you have it framed.
Helen: We cook on the day (celebrate on Wed, as my mom works every Thanksgiving)…never cook anything ahead of time. It’s tradition!!!!
Deb: Have not even started yet
Samantha: I take the frozen meat (turkey)
Samantha: Saturday–make all my pies & cheesecakes (freeze them & pull them out on Thursday) meat out of Sunday (leave them in my laundry sink to thaw out) make up all the side dishes on Wednesday (sweet potatoes, salad, veggie tray & get mash potatoes peeled) Thursday morning up at 7 & put turkey in oven
What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving– turkey, sides or dessert? Did you enjoy our Thanksgiving chat? Were all of your questions answered? If you have more questions for Melissa, post them in the comments below!