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Handy Hints for the Holiday Dinner

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Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2013 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Mon Nov 11, 2013.

(Family Features) 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 Bertolli Extra Light 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, 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 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.

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.

Under-The-Skin Turkey

Recipe: Under-The-Skin Turkey

Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey with pop-up timer
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2- 4 tablespoons Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon herbs, Italian or Mexican seasonings, oregano or your favorite
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced

Preparation:

  1. Gently run your hand under turkey skin to loosen it from the meat. Do not remove skin; simply loosen it. Mix parsley, garlic, olive oil and herbs together. Dip orange slices in mixture to coat, and then gently shove them under skin. Baste entire turkey with olive oil, which will give your turkey an appetizing golden-brown color. Bake in moderate heat (about 350°F). When the turkey is done, popup-timer stem appears; the meat is firm to the touch and juices run clear, not pink, when pricked with fork.

Recipe: Quick and Easy Mustard Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons wine vinegar, lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, or to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Mix all ingredients and pour over salad. Toss and serve.

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