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Ask the Patch Pro: Making Thanksgiving Dinner

Let our Patch Pro answer your cooking questions.

The holidays are almost upon us! With Thanksgiving next week and then a month of parties and celebrations to follow, many of us are about to spend some serious time in the kitchen. 

Whether you've made a turkey for the past 50 years or it's your first attempt at stuffing, there's always something that can turn a normal dish into an award-wining crowd pleaser.  

So, go ahead and ask away. What would make your cooking better?

Here to help with our Thanksgiving preparations is a "Patch Pro"— a local chef who has agreed to answer your questions about cooking in the comments section below.

Meet our expert:

• Executive Chef Kevin Petroske has been with Redstone American Grill for eight years, specializing in upscale American fare. He takes simple favorites and produces them with fresh ingredients and fun preparations.

Redstone American Grill has had success becoming a high volume destination restaurant in the upscale dining scene. With five locations in the U.S., two of them are in Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. A Redstone in Maple Grove is coming soon. 

 

Our expert will regularly check the comments below and try to answer your questions for this "Ask a Patch Pro" feature beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14. Thanks to all our Patch pros and those with questions for participating!

Becky Glander (Editor) November 14, 2012 at 04:43 PM
What's the secret to good gravy? What's the right way to thicken it?
Kevin Petroske November 14, 2012 at 05:41 PM
We go through a lot of trouble to achevieve the favors the you will have at your disposal with just the pan drippings from your turkey onions, celery and carrots. Those juices are like gold don't discard. You will strain and reserve those juices to thicken into your sauce. Make a simple roux(1:1 ratio of butter and flour) it is best to add cold to hot when working with a roux so as not to have lumps. I prefer to use cold liquid added to a hot roux so prepare your roux over medium high heat cooking until it has a slightly nutty aroma. Add your pan juices to you roux in three increments allowing it to come to a simmer each time stirring frequently. The general rule for thickening with a roux is 16oz of roux to 1 gal of liquid. You can add a store bought chicken stock or broth to acheive the amount of liquid needed for your sauce. Finish with some finely chopped fresh herbs. Oh, and of course a little butter.
Becky Glander (Editor) November 14, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Thanks, Kevin, that helps! But it still sounds difficult :)
Susan November 14, 2012 at 05:46 PM
What is the difference between using sea salt or kosher salt in a brine for turkey? Also, what is the maximum amount of time to allow a turkey soak in a brine?
Mike Schoemer (Editor) November 14, 2012 at 05:50 PM
What's your favorite "leftovers" recipe? I have a couple (turkey tetrazzini, for one) but would love to know more!
Chris Steller (Editor) November 14, 2012 at 06:05 PM
What is the best option for people aren't with friends and family for whatever reason? Any ideas for Thanksgiving dinner for one or two?
Kevin Petroske November 14, 2012 at 06:55 PM
You can use any salt you like, however, sea salt is a little more expensive. The main thing to consider if you are going from a recipe is what salt it calls for. 1cup of table salt is equal to 1 1/2 cup of kosher salt. So be careful if it calls for kosher and you are using table salt. You can find all kinds of other fun things to liven it up for a brine. I.e. beer, apple juice, spices,cider, lemon, etc.... General rule for a turkey brine is 1-2 days.
Susan November 14, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Thanks Chef Kevin! Happy Thanksgiving!
Clare Kennedy November 14, 2012 at 07:27 PM
So say you really messed up and you need a turkey last minute. Where can you find a turkey of last resort?
Scott Carlson November 15, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Chef Kevin, aside from price, is there any difference in taste or quality between cooking up a fresh turkey vs. thawing a frozen and then cooking?
Liala Helal November 15, 2012 at 05:15 AM
How do you cut a whole turkey before serving in a way that doesn't make it look like someone took a chainsaw to it? Suggestions on types of knives?
yomammy November 15, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Buy a turkey breast! plenty for two with leftovers.
yomammy November 15, 2012 at 12:43 PM
avoid iodized salt---off flavor. brown sugar and pepper/peppercorn adds a bunch of flavor too be sure to keep turken cold while brining. not looking cool enough outside I do mine ina small cooler- or a car washing bucket--BUT line it with a turkey cooking bag first!!!!!
yomammy November 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM
long straight knife- serrated can give a grinded look (same with steaks) be sure to let turke rest- at least 20 min if not more. loosley covered with foil
Kevin Petroske November 15, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I always enjoy developing the favors in a turkey noodle soup. Nothing better on a cold winter day.
Kevin Petroske November 15, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Cornish game hen. Delicious and perfect size for two with the fixings.
Kevin Petroske November 15, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Good question let me know if you find a place that's open.....my wife is cooking this year. :)
Kevin Petroske November 15, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Not much difference if it is thawed under refrigeration properly. I try not to force thaw any proteins I.e. thawing under running water. Although it is a safe method to thaw your bird, the water can leach out flavor. You have to weigh the pros and cons like price, lack of space to thaw safely, most fresh are free range or organic. Whatever makes more sense for you is the best way to go. It is more important to watch the time and temp while cooking and brining is very helpful to impart more flavor.
Kevin Petroske November 15, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I recommend using a carving fork, boning knife, chef knife and kitchen shears. Make sure they very sharp. When you cut make sure to slice against the grain the the meat. Take off the leg first. Make a guide cut along the center of the two breast slightly loosening and than slice up the breast making medallions try to reserve a little skin on each slice. Then remove the wings. To be honest it's messy and I prefer to do it in the kitchen after presenting the beautiful bird.
yomammy November 15, 2012 at 03:08 PM
check meat market or grocery with "fresh" turkeys
Joanna November 15, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Stuffed or unstuffed? If I cook my bird unstuffed, is there anything I should do to help keep the meat moist?
Kevin Petroske November 15, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Joanna, I would suggest after removing the giblets and washing the inside cavity lightly season with S&P and placing some rough chopped yellow onion, celery and carrot and trussing it tightly. Not necessary but it definitely adds to the flavor and aroma also add more depth to the pan dripping if you are making a sauce from them. The most important part is the time and temperature of the turkey. You can cover it loosely with aluminum foil for the first hour of cooking and than remove and brush with canola oil to help develop nice color. Check with a meat thermometer every half hour or so at the half way point in the cooking process dependent upon the size of your bird. Each time I check the temp I tilt the roasting pan and baste the turkey with the juices. And most important let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes after it has reached 165 degrees.

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