Many of us are committing a lot of our spare (or not so spare) time this week to pondering how best to cook that famed fowl, cranberry sauce recipes, the debate of pumpkin pie versus pumpkin cheesecake.
I've been poring over cooking Web sites, cookbooks and magazines in anticipation. But one book in particular has proven useful in recent days, and I'm sure I'll be thumbing through its pages for answers come Thanksgiving.
It's "Tips Cooks Love: Over 500 Tips, Techniques, and Shortcuts That Will Make You a Better Cook!" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $15, 384 pages). The guidebook comes from Sur La Table and cookbook author Rick Rodgers.
The publisher sent The Bee a review copy about a month ago and it's been my handy helper ever since.
Follow the link below to see some advice on cooking that Thanksgiving meal.
Here are portions of the entries for turkey, stuffing and pumpkin (the book is organized alphabetically by ingredient, tool and technique).
On turkey: Some cooks have embraced brining (see page 79) as the best way to ensure moist white meat. But a brine also adds unnecessary sodium to the meal, and not everyone likes the taste of a brined bird. A better solution is to shield the turkey breast with aluminum foil to deflect the heat away from the area and slow the cooking. Before the turkey goes into the oven, cover the entire breast area with aluminum foil. During the last hour of estimated roasting time, remove the foil so the breast skin can brown.
On stuffings: Stuffing poultry is safe is you follow a few simple rules. The main point is to cook the stuffing until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any potentially harmful bacteria ... To ensure the stuffing reaches this safe temperature, always stuff a cold bird with warm stuffing.
On pumpkin: ...Look for cooking varieties such as Cheese, Sugar Pie, or Golden Cushaw. These are generally smaller than the big pumpkins used for Halloween decoration and have tastier flesh that cooks up firm. Butternut and Hubbard squashes are excellent substitutes. In fact, most canned pumpkin is made from a cousin of the Hubbard. To arrive at the equivalent of a 15-ounce can of pumpkin, you will need about 2 1/2 pounds pumpkin, to yield about 1 3/4 cups puree.
-From "Tips Cooks Love"