Sunday, November 23, 2003

Thanksgiving Q&A

Compiled by Chuck Martin

Carving electrically: According to A.C. Nielsen Marketing research, more electric knives are sold during Thanksgiving week in Cincinnati (per capita) than any other city. So if you're looking to buy an electric knife, consider the product ratings by the editors of Cooks' Illustrated magazine two years ago. The Black & Decker Ergo electric knife (shown; about $40) finished first, but the less expensive Rival ($19) and White Westinghouse ($13) electric knives also fared well.

How long do I thaw a frozen turkey?

For proper thawing, experts recommend allowing one day in the refrigerator for every 4 pounds of turkey. This means that if you're planning to roast a frozen bird that weighs 16 pounds or more, you'd better get it out of the freezer and in the fridge fast. You can speed up the thawing process by soaking the turkey (in its original wrapper) in cool water. But to be safe, you should change the water every 30 minutes. If your turkey thaws completely before Thanksgiving don't worry. It will be fine up to three days in the refrigerator.

To brine or not to brine: Brining - soaking the turkey in a salt water solution - can make the bird more moist after roasting. Here's a basic formula for brining a 15- to 25-pound turkey from Joy of Cooking (Scribner; $30): Dissolve 4 cups kosher salt in 2 gallons water and submerge turkey in solution 4 to 6 hours. (You can also add dried or fresh herbs, garlic, even sliced apples.) Drain and rinse turkey thoroughly before roasting. For an overnight brine, use 2 cups of kosher salt in 2 gallons of water. Remember to keep the turkey refrigerated or below 40 degrees during brining. Do not add extra salt to a brined bird before roasting, and don't brine a previously frozen turkey, which has been treated with a sodium solution.

The day after: Many have favorite ways to make a turkey sandwich, but the most famous and perhaps best is the Hot Brown, created at Louisville's Brown Hotel in the 1920s. Here's a quick recipe: Make cheese sauce by whisking 1 tablespoon flour into 1 tablespoon melted butter over medium heat. Add 1 cup milk and continue to whisk until sauce thickens. Stir in 11/2 cups grated cheddar and stir until melted. Place 4 slices of toast in oven-proof pan and layer each with leftover sliced turkey. Ladle sauce over toast and top each with two slices crisp bacon. Broil until cheese begins to bubble. Makes 4 open-face sandwiches.

If you're too tuckered to make your own Hot Brown Friday, the Greyhound Tavern in Fort Mitchell offers its version made with turkey ($8.10) and ham ($9.15). Greyhound Tavern, 2500 Dixie Highway; (859) 331-3767.

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