Thanksgiving Tips

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Mashed Potato Tips

* Use 50/50 blend of potatoes. ½ starchy potatoes like Russet or Idaho and ½ waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold.

* Warm milk or cream before adding to potatoes

* Don’t melt the butter, its milk solids and fat separate. When you add cold butter to your potatoes it will allow the butter to melt as a whole and distribute the fat and milk solids evenly.

* You can keep mashed potatoes warm in a crock pot.

* If you have made mashed potatoes ahead of time, reheat them in the microwave for a minute at a time, stirring between each minute. If they are dry, mix in a little more milk and butter until they’re soft and creamy again.

No mess stuffing removal

Have you ever wrestled with a hot turkey to get all of the stuffing out? To keep turkey dressing from sticking to the bird's insides, pack the dressing in cheesecloth before you stuff it into the turkey's cavity. When the turkey is ready to serve, pull out the cheesecloth and the stuffing will slide out with it.

Don’t throw away the Giblets

Yes, don’t poo-poo the giblets, they are useful! A whole raw turkey is usually packaged with the giblets (sometimes sealed in a bag in the body cavity). The giblet bag in the turkey you buy usually includes the heart, liver, gizzard (a part of the turkey's stomach), and neck. Giblets are those extra parts of the turkey you do not roast with the turkey, but cook separately and use in your gravy preparation. Do not make stock with the liver, (it gets bitter when boiled). You can roast it and add it to the finished gravy.

To start the broth, heat 2 Tbs. of vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Chop the turkey neck into 3or 4 pieces with a cleaver, and chop the gizzard in half. This helps their flavor infuse the broth.

Add the neck, gizzard, tail and heart to the oil, plus 1 large yellow onion cut into 2-inch chunks. Cover the giblets, and cook them gently, stirring every so often, for 20 minutes. They will release a lot of juice into the pan.

Add 4 cups of cold water, 1 small chopped carrot, 1 chopped celery stalk, a bay leaf, 2 sprigs each of thyme and parsley, and 10 black peppercorns.

Bring all this to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer gently for 30 to 40 minutes. After 30 to 40 minutes, the turkey flavor really comes through and you're ready to strain the broth. Use it right away or refrigerate the broth for up to 3 days.

Some people like chopping the giblets and neck bone meat and adding to the gravy. I personally don’t as I like to laugh when my vegetarian daughter gags as my step mother starts gnawing on her special treat, the neck bone!