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|November 20-26, 2008
• The biggest bit in town
Big City Burrito reigns supreme in Boulder
by Clay Fong
Little touches dress up birds
Help for Thanksgiving on a budget
by Susan Selasky
In today’s economy, people are looking for ways to cut corners. That includes food costs, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Food prices — from eggs to milk to meat — have increased more than 4 percent this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But with careful planning, you can dress up Thanksgiving dinner without blowing the budget.
The good news is that the Thanksgiving meal is built on a foundation of pantry items and traditional foods — pumpkin puree, canned vegetables, stuffing mixes and canned broth — that frequently go on sale. Start stocking up now.
Fresh vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes also can be picked up now and stored until the big day. And don’t forget the turkey. Frozen turkeys can be found for less than $1 a pound. Some are nearly free. Many stores have special deals on the big birds.
Whether you’re planning your first Thanksgiving or looking to dress up your traditional holiday feast with minimal costs, this guide offers suggestions and pricing for making basic turkey dishes. And we also offer several ways to dress up those staples for a little bit more.
15-pound turkey: $14.55
Kosher salt: $2.39
Wine: $4 for 750-ml bottle
Butter: $1 (sale price)
Fresh herbs: $2
The bird is the star of the meal, but it’s usually reasonably priced. Figure 1 and 1⁄4 pounds of turkey per person. Frozen birds and store brands are often on sale. If you are buying a frozen turkey and brining it, try to find one that has the least amount of added solution like broth so it’s not too salty. Expect to pay more for fresh, Amish and organic turkeys — from $2.09 per pound. Heritage or wild birds will cost more, too — upward of $70 for a 15-pound bird.
Basic bird: You’ll only need 2 cups of a 3-pound box of salt for brining — but it’s cost effective to buy the larger box. Dissolve the salt and 1⁄2 cup sugar in 2 gallons water in a large bucket or stock pot large enough for the bird. Brine (soak) 24 hours before roasting.
Rinse, pat the turkey dry and rub with a little oil; season the cavity and outside with salt, pepper and any other seasonings you like. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and add broth, water or wine or a mix of all to the bottom of the pan.
Dress it up: Brine the bird as above. Melt 1 1⁄2 sticks of butter with 2 cups of any kind of inexpensive white wine. Soften 1⁄2 stick of butter and mix with fresh herbs like chives, thyme and sage and rub this under the skin and on the outside of the turkey. Soak a 10-by-13-inch piece of cheesecloth that’s been folded in at least three layers in the butter mixture. Squeeze out the excess liquid and cover the turkey breast with the cloth. Roast the turkey and baste the cheesecloth with the butter-wine mixture.
Approximately $2.99 for a 5-pound bag of Yukon Golds
Garlic: 25 cents a bulb
Yukon Golds are the best choice for making creamy mashed potatoes and most potato gratins and casserole-type dishes.
Basic mash: You will need about 4 pounds or about 12 potatoes (5 to 6 ounces each) to make enough mashed potatoes for 12 servings (about 2/3 cup per serving). Whip up the cooked potatoes with 1 cup of milk or half-and-half, 1 stick of butter, salt and pepper to taste.
Dress it up: Place a whole bulb of garlic on a double layer of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap it in the foil and place in the oven 1 hour before the turkey is ready. When garlic is soft, add any juices that accumulated in the bottom to cooked potatoes. Squeeze the softened garlic into the potatoes along with some butter and milk. Add fresh chopped thyme or chives.
Pan juices from roasting turkey: Free
2 packages turkey gravy mix: 50 cents to $1.29
Basic: Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until fat rises to the surface and skim it off. Place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup water to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils, scraping up browned bits from the bottom. Add 1 cup chicken broth to the pan, stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half. Add the defatted pan juices, and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. Whisk in flour if you want a thicker gravy. Season as desired.
Dress it up: Follow the directions for the package of turkey gravy, omitting the water and using defatted pan juices in its place. Or add mushroom soaking liquid from the porcini mushrooms you used in the stuffing for the liquid and add sauteed mushrooms.
Roasted turkey basted with butter and wine
Serves: 12 (generously)
Preparation time: 35 minutes (not including brining time)
Total time: 4 hours, 30 minutes (not all active time)
Brine the turkey if desired by soaking it for 24 hours in 2 gallons of water that has 2 cups kosher salt and 1⁄2 cup sugar dissolved in it.
1 turkey (15 pounds), giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserved for another use
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2-3 cups white wine
1 large piece of cheesecloth, folded into a square
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, mixed with favorite fresh herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium broth and water or wine for roasting pan or more as needed
1 large apple, cut into wedges
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 whole bulb of garlic, top 1⁄4 sliced off
Brine the turkey, if desired. Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine mixture; let soak.
Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it. Sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper; add pieces of apple and the garlic bulb. Place several apple and onion wedges in the neck end, and tuck the wing tips under the turkey to hold the flap of skin in place. Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string. Gently loosen the skin under the breast and some of the thigh, and rub some of the herb butter underneath the skin. Rub the remaining herb butter all over the turkey and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add broth, wine or water to the pan.
Lift the cheesecloth out of the liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and sides of the turkey. Place the turkey in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste the cheesecloth and rest of turkey with the butter and wine mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 2 1⁄2 more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices; if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.
After 2 1⁄2 hours, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. Cook 1 more hour, baste again after 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven when the internal meat temperature in the breast, thighs and legs is 165 degrees.
Transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make pan gravy if desired.
To make gravy: Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup white wine or water to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck. Stir well, and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices, and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. Whisk in a small amount of flour if you want thicker gravy. Season the gravy as desired. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.
Adapted from www.marthastewart.com. Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
Analysis based on 5 ounces cooked turkey.
317 calories (41 percent from fat ), 15 grams fat (7 grams sat. fat ), 0 grams carbohydrates, 42 grams protein, 251 mg sodium, 128 mg cholesterol, 39 mg calcium, 0 grams fiber .
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