Q: When cooking for our large family on Thanksgiving, it's difficult getting all the food ready and having everything fresh and hot. Timing is an issue. Any pointers?
A: There are a few ways to make sure everything you have is up to temperature the first, and big, one is to have a game plan for the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
After the turkey has been prepared, take advantage of its resting time (so your oven is free, and you've got a decent amount of counter space available) to go on a reheating blitz. The oven's residual heat can be used to warm dressings and casseroles; the microwave can handle vegetables, and the stove can be used for sauces. For more-delicate foods like mashed potatoes, transfer them to a bowl and set that above a pot of steaming water so that the potatoes can heat through without scorching.
Once dinner is on the table, put pies into the turned-off oven so they'll warm up perfectly to be crowned with ice cream.
Q: I would like to know if a person decides to purchase an extra turkey on sale for cooking at a later date, how long can it be frozen before being considered spoiled?
A: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, frozen foods can remain good (that is, not spoiled) indefinitely but after a while, their textures start to suffer. Whole poultry can last a good long while if it's been packaged well; you can probably hold on to a bird for up to a year. To err on the side of caution, though, we usually recommend not storing whole uncooked poultry for longer than three months.
Q: When I make cornbread dressing, I always use eggs. My husband never uses eggs. Which way is the correct way?
A: Both ways are right; it just depends on how you like your dressing. Using eggs makes it creamier and more like a savory bread pudding; leaving them out showcases the cornbread flavor, meaning that it's critical to have excellent cornbread. When you're using eggs, make sure to bake your dressing in a lower-than-usual oven so that the eggs don't scramble or temper them with a bit of the hot stuffing before tossing it all together just to be on the safe side.
Q: I've fixed my turkey the same way for over 27 years (yup, my entire married life!) oven-roasted. I acquired a barbecue a couple of years ago and have taken over my summer cooking with it. I'm looking for a new challenge this year cooking out of season and want to brave barbecuing a turkey but have NO CLUE how to even start. I don't have a rotisserie unit on my grill nor do I think there would be enough clearance for a turkey to twirl in my grill.
A: You can certainly cook a turkey outside on the grill; it just needs a little attention. When you set up your grill, you'll need to make sure that you have two "zones" going, one for direct heat and one for indirect heat.
Once you've got that, you can brown the turkey over the direct side, then shift it over to the indirect side, rotating it occasionally, until it cooks through usually about five hours, so definitely make sure you have enough charcoal (or propane).
You can grill your turkey whole or butterflied, but it's honestly easiest to start out by grilling a turkey in parts.