Holiday Turkey Tips and More
By Ryan Frisch
One of the most memorable moments at any holiday dinner is when a moist, delicious turkey is brought to the table. Everyone grabs their forks at the sight of a perfectly brown bird glistening with juicy flavor.
Make sure your holiday meal is a special one by following these simple tips for making the perfect holiday dinner:
Thawing the Turkey
- Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours per 5 pounds in weight. For example, a 20-pound bird takes four days to thaw. Thaw it faster by covering with cold water in the sink and changing the water every half hour per pound of turkey.
- Don’t unwrap a frozen turkey before thawing.
- Refrigerate the turkey as soon as it has thawed or cook it immediately.
- For best eating quality, do not refreeze uncooked turkey.
Roasting the Bird
- Buy a turkey with a pop-up timer, which ensures proper cooking time.
- Baste the turkey with extra virgin olive oil.
- Place turkey breast-side-up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Cook in an oven preheated to 325°F.
- For an unstuffed turkey, place a stalk or two of celery, seasonings, a cut-up onion and a handful of parsley in the cavity to keep it moist.
- Lay a “tent” of foil loosely over the turkey to prevent over-browning.
- During the last half hour of cooking, remove the foil and baste.
- The turkey is done when the meat thermometer is 180°F and the stuffing is 165°F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, look for the red stem to go up on the pop-up timer, press a thumb and forefinger into the thick part of the drumstick to see if it feels soft or wiggle a drumstick to see if it moves easily.
- Never partially cook a turkey. Always cook it completely once started.
- For easier carving, let the turkey stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
Stuffing a Turkey
- Follow the easy directions on the stuffing package, and add a few of your own ingredients. The ingredients for a tasty stuffing are endless. Just be creative.
- For a traditional stuffing, add onion, celery, shredded carrot and parsley. Add orange juice, wine, orange zest, diced apple and raisins for a fruitier dressing. Make it savory with onions, celery, ginger, raisins and orange. Other additions can include mushrooms, water chestnuts, fresh or dried cranberries, almonds or walnuts and more.
- Prepare the stuffing just before you cook the bird. Stuff and cook it immediately.
- Loosely pack the neck and main cavity with prepared stuffing. Do not pack tightly or the stuffing can’t expand and the inside of the turkey will not properly cook.
- When the turkey and stuffing are cooked, remove all of the stuffing, place it in a serving bowl, fluff it with a fork and serve.
Baking Stuffing in Pans
- Put dressing in a greased 2 1/2- or 3-quart casserole dish; cover and bake 30 minutes at 350°F. Bake uncovered 5 to 10 minutes longer for a crispier top.
- Mold stuffing into a muffin pan and bake into “stuffing muffins.”
- You can also stuff large vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions, eggplant or bell peppers. Cooking time may be 5 or 10 minutes shorter.
Preparing Homemade Rolls
- Purchase Rhodes Frozen Rolls, which are just like grandma used to make. They are easy to bake and contain no preservatives.
- Coat a baking pan and large sheet of plastic wrap with non-stick cooking spray. Place frozen dough on the pan and cover with oiled plastic wrap so it won’t stick to the rolls as they rise.
- Let rolls rise for 3 to 5 hours, until they double in size. Actual time depends on the temperature of your kitchen. Carefully remove the plastic wrap.
- While you are carving your turkey, put rolls in the oven at 350°F and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
- Brush tops with butter or olive oil, if desired.
Serve a Sweet, Light Treat
- While the usual pies, cakes and cookies are always on hand at holiday celebrations, you can give your guests an unexpected delight with ice cold watermelon slices or cubes.
- A welcomed treat at the end of a heavy meal, watermelon is cold, refreshing and only 40 calories, which will still let them enjoy other heavy desserts, too.
- Watermelon is very healthy – loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, and has more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable.
Planning for Leftovers
Save all of the delicious leftover turkey in a sealable container and store it in the refrigerator. There are many great recipes that feature turkey, such as stir-fry with vegetables, turkey wraps, burritos, turkey hash, turkey loaf and, of course, good, old-fashioned turkey sandwiches.
For more delicious recipe ideas for your holiday gathering, visit www.rhodesbread.com.
Savory Sausage Stuffing
- 1 Loaf Rhodes™ White or Wheat Bread Dough, baked and cubed
- 1 pound ground sausage
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2-3 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Place cubed bread in large bowl.
- Brown sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. Add onion, celery, mushrooms and carrots and cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Add sausage mixture to bread cubes and toss to mix.
- Add all remaining ingredients and toss until well blended.
- Place in sprayed 2-quart baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned.
Green Chili Canes
- 24 Rhodes™ Dinner Rolls, thawed to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 cans diced green chilies, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Spray counter lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
- Combine 12 rolls together and roll into 18-inch-by-12-inch rectangle. Repeat with remaining 12 rolls.
- Brush both dough rectangles with butter.
- Combine cheddar cheese, green chilies and garlic salt and sprinkle over one dough rectangle.
- Top with remaining dough rectangle, butter side down.
- Cut into twelve 1 1/2-inch strips.
- Twist each strip several times and turn one end to resemble a candy cane or shepherd's hook.
- Place at least 1 inch apart on large sprayed baking sheets. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.