During my first few years of elementary school, my family lived in Los Angeles. Because it was almost always warm enough to eat outside, my school didn’t have a cafeteria. Instead, we just had an outdoor courtyard with plastic picnic tables and a small window through which hot lunches were dispensed.
I was mostly a brown-bag kid in those days, but occasionally, when something on the monthly menu particularly spoke to me, my parents would give me a dollar and let me buy lunch. I always asked to buy lunch on the days when they served sloppy joes.
I think part of the reason had to do with how it was served. The saucy meat came packaged in a little aluminum tray, covered tightly with foil. On top, they’d stack a waxed paper dish that held the bun and a plastic cup of applesauce or fruit cocktail. You’d go to your seat with a carton of milk, a napkin and a plastic spork to assemble your very own sandwich. I loved it.
Before you start cooking, read these tips
For the last few years, my husband and I have been in the habit of visiting friends in Northampton, Mass., for the long Memorial Day weekend. We make the trek from Philadelphia on Saturday morning, arriving sometime in the early afternoon, very ready for several days of catching up, early cocktail hours and lazy meals.
One thing that’s always particularly fun about these weekends is that these friends take their grilling very seriously. We live in an apartment without a stitch of outdoor space, so I’m always excited to have an opportunity to cook outside on a real, live flame (my everyday cooktop is an ancient, soul-less electric stove).
Two years ago we experimented with grilled pizzas (a huge success!), and last summer we cooked up a buffet of sausages, from-scratch veggie burgers and a mountain of grilled vegetables. As our visit approaches, I’ve had my eyes open for new recipes that might work well on their deluxe grill.
Before you start cooking, read these tips
In honor of Thanksgiving, we’re kicking off our second annual Communal Table on Food Network, an event that we opened up to the entire food community. Experts from the industry are “pulling up a chair” to our table and offering readers their favorite recipes for appetizers, sides, salads, breads, mains, desserts and cocktails.
As we near a certain Thursday, we’ve all got the same thing on the brain: turkey. It’s that one dish per year that you simply cannot fail, and the one dish on your table that requires the most TLC.
This year, as you start dog-earing recipes and staking out techniques, rest assured that we’ve got your back when it comes to the bird. You see, while we’re all for the classic roasted turkey, a la Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey, we’ll also welcome a new take with open arms.
Enter: Bobby Flay’s Black Pepper-Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Turkey. For added flavor, it’s rubbed with fresh sage and roasted garlic before being glazed with zesty Dijon mustard, horseradish and all that pomegranate goodness.
See what our friends are bringing to the table
Every home cook has her backup, never-fail dinnertime ingredient. When in doubt, my mom sautés chicken tenders in olive oil with a bit of garlic and serves them on top of salad. My younger sister relies on sweet potatoes and cans of black beans to save the day when kitchen inspiration is scarce. Me? I’m good as long as there’s a pound of ground turkey in the freezer.
When I want something super-easy, I make turkey burgers with chopped onion and frozen peas stirred in (who doesn’t like a burger that also contains a serving of veggies?). If I have a little more time to play with, I mince up a carrot and a bit of onion in the food processor, stir it into the turkey with an egg and some smashed stale crackers (something we always seem to have on hand) and bake it in a loaf pan. Nights when I feel like I need some meditative kitchen time, I make turkey meatballs and cook them up in a batch of vegetable-laden broth.
All those applications are solid weeknight cooking. Sometimes, however, I’d like to be able to dress up my ground turkey and make it a little more presentable for guests and far-flung family members who find their way to my table on occasion. Just as I was pondering inventing my own company-worthy ground turkey dish, I spotted Melissa d’Arabian’s Spicy Turkey Lollipops.
Before you start rolling your meatballs, read these tips
If you think you’ve done nearly everything a cook can with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, it might be time to talk turkey.
Other than the big bird at Thanksgiving and ground turkey when they’re craving a healthier burger, most people overlook turkey.
Fair enough. Ground turkey can be dry and tasteless. And who has time to roast a bird (or even a massive breast) most nights of the week?
But the turkey tenderloin — a thick strip of meat cut from between the bird’s breasts — turns out to be a convenient, delicious and healthy alternative.
Because the tenderloin doesn’t get much of a workout when the bird is alive, the meat is particularly tender.
And like chicken breasts, it is incredibly versatile, taking well to the grill, skillet or oven and working well with any flavor or marinade.
Get the recipe for Chopped Smoky Turkey Burgers
Every year, I pull out my giant roasting pan (with fitted rack) and thus begins the annual ritual of cooking a giant turkey for Thanksgiving. What kind of turkey did I make last year? How did I cook it? Though I consider myself a fairly well-seasoned cook, learning how to cook the perfect turkey is something I take care to re-learn every year.
So, where to begin?
A few preliminary questions I always ask:
1. How big does my turkey need to be? I usually estimate about 1 pound of turkey (factoring in the carcass as part of that weight) per person.
2. What kind of turkey? Like a lot of poultry these days, there is quite a variety of turkeys (all raised in different ways, fed different foods) to choose from. You know, this is a difficult question to answer. I don’t think I have ever cooked the same turkey two years in a row. I love Heritage brand the most, but those types of birds are raised in such a way that the meat is leaner and can be slightly tough. I also love a good ol’ supermarket turkey. I say, whatever suits your personal taste.
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The turkey: It’s the star of almost every Thanksgiving dinner table. Whether you prefer dark or white meat, legs, breasts or thighs, the Thanksgiving bird is a family-favorite tradition that can be brined, fried, seasoned, stuffed, glazed, roasted and more. Our top five turkey recipes below encompass a unique mixture of classic and creative takes on this holiday classic that are fit for any Thanksgiving feast.
5. Bobby’s Black Pepper-Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Turkey — For a crispy skin that is both sweet and savory, Tyler brushes the turkey with a tangy glaze featuring pomegranate molasses, Dijon mustard and horseradish.
4. Apricot and Tequila Glazed Turkey — Marcela uses a flavor injector to add a mixture of chicken broth, melted butter and tequila directly into the turkey breasts, thighs and legs to ensure a moist, succulent bird.
Get the top three turkey recipes »
For crisper skin, unwrap the turkey the day before roasting and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.
Need help tackling the big bird? Continue reading Food Network’s Top 10 Turkey Tips.
Find the perfect turkey for your feast, starting with our most popular ever: Alton’s Good Eats Roast Turkey, an outstanding 5-star standby. Browse our top turkey recipes.
- Tweet, tweet! Let us know what you're thinking, we are listening!
The new year brings a fresh start and new challenges — especially in the kitchen. We asked you via Twitter what recipes you wanted to learn to cook this year, and there were a few common themes. Perhaps you’ve stumbled on some 2011 cooking trends — could 2011 be the year of Pad Thai? Risotto? Here are a few of our favorite tweets, and some recipes to get started on your culinary goals. Read more »
- Recipe tester Leah Brickley (cautiously!) experiments with indoor turkey-frying in Food Network Kitchens.
Sometimes being married to a kitchen gadget geek has its perks. For our November issue of Food Network Magazine, we had to test Cat Cora’s deep-fried turkey recipe. Deep-fried turkeys have become really popular over the past few years and Cat’s is rubbed with a delicious Cajun spice blend. The turkey comes out crispy and really flavorful.
Our test kitchen is located in New York City’s Chelsea Market building, and the outdoor green space available to set up a vat of boiling oil is very limited to non-existent. Luckily, my husband, Paul, had a rather interesting solution to my deep-fryer problems: Why not fry it indoors? At first I thought he was crazy, but then he told me about this new (and safe) indoor turkey fryer made by MasterBuilt. It sits right on your counter, uses about half the amount the oil and has a safety magnetic break-away cord.
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