Chef instructor gives tips for Christmas cooking – DiscoverEstevan.com
Inspired by fond memories of childhood Christmas dinners, Curtis Hack, chef instructor at Estevan Comprehensive School, offers some helpful hints for preparing a turkey dinner.
Preparing the turkey is arguably the most important part of Christmas dinner, but thawing is a step that may confuse some.
Haack suggests taking the turkey out of the refrigerator and thawing it in the refrigerator 2-3 days before you plan to cook it.
“Some people put it in the sink the night before in cold water,” Haack said. “That works but it’s a risk because you’re not in the proper cooling zones.”
When it comes to preparing a turkey, the best way is to debone it.
“You take the breasts, legs and thighs and cook them at different times,” Huck said.
Starting with the legs and thighs early is key, as dark meat takes longer to cook than white meat.
If you’re not sure how to debone a turkey, he points out that YouTube is an excellent resource.
You then roast the bones in the oven to use in a stock or broth afterwards.
This method also helps achieve more consistent cooking. When you cook a whole turkey, there is a risk of drying out the meat as you try to reach a food-safe temperature.
While many people continue to prepare their birds the traditional way with stuffing inside, it is good to be aware of the dangers this may pose if it is not cooked to the correct temperature.
To check the bird’s temperature, use an instant-read thermometer and place it in the densest muscle.
“Do not hit the bone with the end of the thermometer, because bone conducts more heat.”
Huck suggests cooking the stuffing in a separate pan rather than cooking it inside the turkey.
“It’s a little less risky and reduces the chance of foodborne illness and cross-contamination.”
A classic stuffing recipe for hake contains celery, carrots, bread, turkey or chicken broth, sage, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.
“Food is family, and food is culture in my opinion,” Huck said.
Turkey, bacon, and cabbage rolls were part of the feast his grandmother and mother cooked during the holidays and remained Huck’s favorite.
“I love the holiday staple, not that it has to be flavorless, but I think it had the flavor of it when I was younger,” Huck said.
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