Earlier this month we all participated in the end of Daylight Savings and turned our clocks back. Annually, Fire Departments have coupled their message of safety in Smoke Detectors that this is the time of year that you should change the batteries in your smoke detectors to ensure that they are working properly. A working smoke detector saves lives for sure. I know mine works as it went off for the first time in ages the other day as I was broiling something. My husband and I were actually glad to hear it ring at such minor smoke. I am going to take this tradition a step further and encourage you to check your oven temperature as we enter the biggest cooking season of the year; Thanksgiving, Christmas and Chanukah celebrations. Many traditional recipes rely on cooking your entrees and sides in your oven; so just as you have your furnace checked and serviced for the winter heating season, you should do a little PM on your oven too to ensure your Holiday entertaining is smooth sailing! In speaking with many of you, I commonly hear, “one oven runs cold” or “that oven runs hot.” If someone is not accustomed to your oven, that can throw the timing off when heating, baking or roasting your hors d’oeuvres or entrees and possibly delay or hamper your timeline. Checking your oven temperature is as easy as buying an oven thermometer from Bed, Bath and Beyond, Amazon or even Home Depot. Prices I saw were between $5 and $6. You can probably leave it in the oven all the time to verify what you set it at, is indeed the correct temperature. These are not the same as a meat thermometer, so be sure to get one that is designed to measure the internal air temperature. Many professional home ovens and appliances offer a calibration service that I have heard clients say from time to time, that the oven was recently calibrated. So that may be an option for you, too.
Even if your oven is the right temperature, cooking times can vary depending on how much you have in the oven at the same time, or how often you open and close the door to check on things (my mother in law was famous for this😊). Both of these actions will affect the cooking performance of your oven negatively.
Too many pans in the oven prevent the air/heat from circulating evenly- and if one pan is hot/warm, and another pan you put in is cold, that cold item will lower the temp of your oven. If you need more oven space, you can always rent an additional oven- either a convection table top style or a full sized propane or electric oven. I also encourage you to use your gas grill to either cook or keep items warm if you have to juggle sides around.
Everyone loves to see the presentation of the whole turkey. It is very traditional and often the centerpiece of the meal. However, I recommend you to also cook a turkey breast – boneless is even better, separately so that you have something sliced and ready for your hungry guests, while you let the grand bird rest for photo ops, or during carving- you can handle the demand.😊 And, cooking a large bird takes time! Many of you will be waking up pretty early to get that bird in the oven to be ready in time for dinner! Plan on approximately 15-20mins per pound to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. (Don’t forget your meat thermometer, too!) Cooking times will vary not only based on how big your turkey is, but also if you are cooking it stuffed. In researching this newsletter, I found a number of helpful charts and sites for your reference. This one from Allrecipes had two handy charts that outline not only cooking times, but also how many people does each size feed. Or if you prefer, you can check out this one from RealSimple.
And after all the careful planning and preparation, there may still be some unexpected disasters out there! So keep your patience and sense of humor, and if you need it, I also found this helpful guide from Allrecipes that can help you save dried out meat, soggy stuffing, lumpy gravy, or poor pie crust!
At Thanksgiving it is important to remember what matters most and give thanks. Time spent with family, friends and loved ones. That is a priceless gift. Take the time to honor and acknowledge each other and our unique gifts, talents and even annoying habits! Savor your food, but savor the joy of the moment. I am truly grateful for each and every one of you. It is my honor to be a part of your celebrations. Wishing you a joyful holiday full of love and abundance.