Kitchen Helpline: Turkey Day
Question 1: "I want my turkey to look like a magazine cover--what can I do to make it look pretty?"
To make your turkey look camera-ready, consider altering the usual turkey platter. For a traditional look, go with a colorful earthen platter in place of the ubiquitous white or printed one. To give your table a more rustic feel, think outside the box and present your bird on a large cutting board. Add a base of fresh, leafy kale. This will help absorb the juices of the turkey and keep the platter or cutting board looking tidy. Place the turkey on a bed of kale and surround it with edible garnishes such as cut lemon wedges or orange slices. Scattered cranberries or halved pomegranates add a pop of color.
You can also tie together a bunch of unused fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme to make a "bouquet garni." Stuff it into the cavity of the bird and the heat from the turkey will warm the herbs, letting off a wonderful aroma when you present it to your guests.
Question 2: "Every year I wind up with lumpy mashed potatoes--how can I avoid this?"
Lumpy mashed potatoes are usually the result of undercooked potatoes or potatoes that haven't been mixed well. There are a number of ways to ensure smooth and creamy spuds.
- Cook Your Potatoes Through: Cook peeled and halved potatoes. Halved potatoes absorb less water than potatoes cut into smaller pieces and are more likely to have a better consistency. Test for doneness using a fork; the fork should go through easily and the potatoes should break apart with little resistance.
- Use a Ricer or Colander: Another trick to silky mashed potatoes is putting them through a potato ricer. A ricer can be purchased at your local kitchen supply store. If you can't find a potato ricer, use a bowl to push the cooked potatoes through a colander. The texture will be similar to that of the ricer and your mash will be nice and smooth.
Question 3: "I want to try something new this year without straying too far from traditional flavors. Any ideas?"
Cranberry sauce is a great low-risk place to play with new flavors. It's very easy to put out 2 types of cranberry sauce--one traditional and one with an interesting mix-in. Great options are minced fresh ginger, crushed pineapple, minced jalapeno or lime zest. You can also try different combinations of these flavors for an interesting twist on this holiday must-have. Katie Lee likes to use fresh minced ginger, pineapple and lime.