Nothing can inspire fear in the newbie holiday chef quite like cooking a turkey.
In addition to being a large, physically imposing dish, it’s such a high-profile meal that if you over or undercook it, the day could be ruined — which, of course, your family will never let you live down.
It’s why Carla Hall of ABC’s weekday culinary series “The Chew,” created a video that was packaged with holiday dinners sold by the Fairway Market chain that walks cooks through the process.
“It was step by step,” Hall tells Zap2it. “I said, ‘This is what you do on Wednesday.’ And so I had them do a dry brine, put the veggies in the cavity, put the butter under the skin. I’m like, ‘OK, that’s 15 minutes of work. That’s what you do on Wednesday.’ And then the next part, ‘OK, it’s Thursday. You’re going to pull your turkey out. You need five hours from this point until you want your turkey.
“‘Pull it out but leave it out for at least 45 minutes on the counter. Turn the oven on, put that baby in there.’ And I just stepped them through it. And I think having a video of someone telling you exactly what to do, it was as if I was there … . And they all said that it turned out. But it was scary — a lot of pressure.”
As for common holiday meal mistakes, Hall says, “The biggest mistake [people] make is they don’t plan according to the space in the oven,” she says. “So I would say that you plan a meal based on what can be done on top of the stove. And literally get the pots out and put them on the stove. And then aside from the meat, which can sit out and rest, put everything else in the oven and see what space you have and have some room-temperature things. If you have to do a crockpot … do that. Timing is what people get messed up, in terms of everything coming out on time and hot — or cold.”