#AskSassy: Thanksgiving Dinner Tips & Tricks


Wednesday, November 25th 2020, 4:48 pm
By: News 9


Sassy Mama answers your Thanksgiving dinner questions and offers up some tips!

#AskSassy 

Thanksgiving Questions from Viewers

How many days before should I cook my cornbread to dry out for the dressing?

At least, 3-4 days! But to cheat time a bit crumble cooked cornbread onto a baking sheet and set in a 200-degree oven for 3-4 hours or until dry.

How long and at what temperature should you cook a turkey?

165 degrees is the perfect temperature for your bird!

#1 Depends on the size of your bird

#2 I cook my turkey COVERED with heavy-duty foil at 325 degrees in a roasting pan. See below for pounds and time. 

Do I need to brine my turkey? And if so, how long does it need to brine?

No, you do not need to brine your turkey. If you choose to brine your turkey then what method? Dry or Wet? 

  1. Dry Brine: To create your brine the rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of kosher salt per 2 pounds of turkey. Add other aromatics as needed such as thyme, rosemary, orange peel, etc. Time to get personal with your bird. Set the turkey on a large baking sheet. Make sure your bird is completely dry and rub the dry brine mixture all over the bird inside and out. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
  2. Wet Brine: Create your brine with the salt ratio being one cup of salt per gallon of water in a bucket. In a medium-sized saute pan add 3 cups of water and 1/4 cup sugar per gallon (in the bucket) along with aromatics mentioned above. Cook for 10 minutes or until sugar is melted and your kitchen smells like the holidays. Allow this mixture to cool and then add to the bucket of water. Set the turkey in the bath. Now find room in your refrigerator to allow the turkey to soak overnight and up to 24 hours. 


Is the pop-up thermometer in the turkey reliable? 

They are the worst! Literally a dry bird indicator! Use a digital meat thermometer (there’s still time to buy one!) to check the temperature at the THIGH and the BREAST, and remember that it will continue to rise after you’ve removed the turkey from the oven. For me, that means stopping the cooking just shy of 160 degrees and allowing the bird to rest for a long while.

What is the difference between stuffing and dressing?

Wow….that is a huge culinary debate question. Almost as loaded as talking religion or politics at a Thanksgiving dinner. You will find a passionate discussion of both points of view. Here is a little history on the debate and the facts. According to Food and Wine magazine, the answer is “stuffing” is derived from placing the wet bread mixture into the cavity of a bird and cooked with the turkey. Whereas dressing is cooked in a separate dish and served alongside the bird. 

Here is where the debate starts. Regional differences. In the early 17th century Southerners referred to “dressing the bird” by placing the savory bread mixture into the internal cavity and thus causing debate as to whether that is considered dressing or stuffing. See how this gets tricky? We have not even begun to discuss all the regional differences in preparation. That is another fight for future debates! Let me just say my Mom’s oyster dressing still has left scars on my husband and I almost 30 years later!

How do I get my turkey to have crispy, golden brown skin?

Once the turkey reaches temp, set the oven to 450 degrees and allow the skin to broil and become dark. Once it has reached the desired color remove it from the oven and cover it immediately with foil and allow it to sit on the counter for at least 45 minutes.

What do I do if my gravy is too lumpy? too think?

If it is too lumpy, transfer the gravy to a blender and blend. Then return to the saucepan and re-warm. For a too thick gravy, add 1/4 cup of chicken/turkey stock to the saucepan and stir.

How do I keep my pumpkin pie from cracking?

Cook the pie initially at 400 degrees for 15 minutes to “set” the custard and then return to 350 degrees and cook for 40 minutes. The good news is that a cracked pie means more whipped cream to me!

PS...Even the best chefs have Thanksgiving disasters! Check out the time the foil roasting pan got a hole in it and caused a grease fire. We counted our blessings and ate ham!