You asked, so I'm answering! Recently, we put out a call on Facebook for you to ask those burning Thanksgiving cooking questions (ha! No pun intended!). Here are my answers to some of your most pressing questions: Adela: How do I get my turkey to come out really juicy?
One great way to ensure a really juicy turkey is to brine it before cooking. Similar to marinating, the turkey is soaked in a salty solution, which imparts juiciness and flavor on the meat. (Note: the difference between marinating and brining is in the solution – marinades are acidic, brine is heavy in salt). Tomorrow, Quick Dish will be featuring an instructional on how to make that brine, so be sure to check back.
Another important element in making a juicy turkey is to allow the turkey to rest before carving. By doing this, the juices are reabsorbed into the meat, rather than flowing out when it’s cut. I typically allow my turkey to rest for 30 minutes. Rachel: This is our first Thanksgiving being vegetarian... any suggestions for a festive vegetarian main dish to replace the traditional turkey?
Been there! My first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian was major drama in my household. I declined the offer of a tofu turkey and instead requested that there be a few extra side dishes. To this day, I love eating all the side dishes best. I made at least six side dishes (often more) and it fills the need well, even when we have vegetarians among us (for the record, I am no longer a vegetarian myself. Long story).
It sounds like you want a specific main dish though, so here are a few suggestions:
Souffle – Want something impressive? A soufflé is a great way to go. Check out Cheddary Cheese and Sundried Tomato Souffle here on Tablespoon, or if you have Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook, there is a great recipe for Blue Cheese Souffle in it.
Quiche – Similar in concept to soufflé, but less intense to make, quiche is another great main dish option. Check out the recipe for Broccoli Mushroom Quiche, which sounds delish.
Go Fish! – If you are vegetarians that eat fish, then fish is fabulous for Thanksgiving. How about some Poached Halibut with Leeks and Mushrooms or Herbed Fish?
Polenta – You probably don’t associate polenta with Thanksgiving, but it could be just the thing for your T-day meal. Two recipes that caught my eye: Polenta with Italian Vegetables and Ratatouille Polenta Bake.
Soup – Want to stick to the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving, just in vegetarian forms? Then have your main dish be a fabulous fall-flavored soup like Butternut Squash Soup or Savory Pumpkin Soup. Make it extra special by serving the soup in hallowed out pumpkins. Louise: I am looking for a great way to cook turnips so they aren't so bitter.
Oh turnips … it’s true that if turnips aren’t prepared just right, then they will be bitter – and most people don’t like that. So, what can you do? Start by choosing small turnips that are fresh and heavy for their size. The small ones tend to be less bitter. Peel them before cooking. Boil them until tender, and then discard all the water. Some also say that adding a little cream to the water while cooking will remove the bitterness.
Another option? Slice the small ones and eat them raw – they are actually supposed to be less bitter that way. Hope that helps!Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah’s Cucina Bella.