Q&A – Thanksgiving Advice

In Q&A, Tips and Advice by Robert Irvine

Thanks for all of the great questions you posted on my Facebook page! I wish I could have answered all of your questions, but I picked some of the best ones to address below.

Question from Colleen and Sharon:
What’s a good low carb turkey dinner side dish? AND Robert, I would love some Brussel Sprout recipes.
Answer:
I can knock out two birds with one stone on this one! Click here for my Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Bacon recipe.

Question from a lot of you:
Is it safe to cook your stuffing inside the turkey?
Answer:
Yes and no. Yes, if you can make sure that you cook the stuffing to a minimal internal temperature of 165 degrees. However, the added cooking time required for this can really dry out your turkey. I would suggest that you do them separately. 

Jennifer Asks:
We have limited kitchen space and only two burners. What can we prep the night before and still have it taste fantastic?
Answer:
A lot of your dishes can be made the night before! Desserts for sure. Most of your starches including stuffing (just leave it a little undercooked so that it doesn’t dry out when reheating), mashed potatoes (just reheat them by re-whipping them over a burner and adding heated milk or cream), yams, and casseroles. Also, go ahead and cut your salad but don’t dress it yet. What not to cook ahead of time? The turkey (of course), vegetables, or the gravy (because you need the turkey drippings to make it right). Also, think about any other appliances you can use to help cook! The outdoor grill can be great for veggies or to reheat/keep warm some items.

General Turkey Tips

  • To brine, or not to brine: If you have time… BRINE! I prefer a ratio of 3/4-1 cup of Kosher salt to 1 gallon of water. I suggest at least a minimum of 8 hours of brining in ice cold water. Add some citrus to your brine to give your bird that great pop of flavor. Make sure you pat try the outside of your turkey before seasoning and cooking and let your turkey sit at room temperature for at least an hour before putting it in the over.
  • Upside down vs right side up? Covered vs uncovered? Oven temperature? Basting?  This will always be a hotly debated topic and there’s no clear winner on any of these topics… JUST PREFERENCES!! My rule of thumb is to avoid opening the oven door as much as possible. You loose 25 degrees, on average, every time you open your oven. So the flipping and basting and wrapping and unwrapping is costing you oven temperature and raising cooking time. All of that could result in a dried out bird. I prefer cooked upright and wrapped in foil. 450 degrees for the first 25 minutes then reduce the heat to 325 degrees F for a further 4 hours checking every 20 to 30 minutes throughout the day. About 1 hour from finishing remove the foil and allow to get golden brown.