Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year and for many it is stressful. Cooking a the big dinner can be stressful. You might benefit from a few pieces of kitchen equipment. These are some pieces of equipment that will make your kitchen time enjoyable and improve the odds of the perfect turkey.
If you know some people who are just getting into cooking, or are newlyweds – here are some great gifts to get them for the holidays.
It’s even more fun if you need to buy some items for your Thanksgiving party. I love knives (what surgeon doesn’t) – and this is the perfect time to buy a new knife that might just make slicing that turkey easier. Nothing is worse than carving with a dull knife. This slicing knife does a great job with turkey, tomatoes, and bread – it is inexpensive and will make you look like a pro.
Electric knives are cumbersome, require storing, and difficult to clean. Those of us who cook frequently appreciate a great knife, and take care of them. But knives can be expensive- with some chef’s knives costing up to a thousand dollars. There is no reason to spend this kind of money for knives.
The physics behind a sharp knife is the same as a scalpel. A large force placed on a “wedge” that will cleave tissue. A dull knife provides large amounts of friction that cleave in fractured planes. Dull knives are frequently the cause of severe cuts to cooks everywhere. Sharpening knives is best left to professionals once a year. Although you can get a knife sharpener. The sharpening steel – while looking dramatic on television cooking shows, does not sharpen the edge of the knife. As a knife is used the blade curls microscopically. In addition, small steel fibers are frayed off and come in non aligned angles. The sharpening steel re-aligns those fibers and takes those temporary edges off. It is important to do this periodically. However, after a year of use it would be wise to have the knives sharpened professionally.
Mashing potatoes seems easy – but if you have an old fashioned masher you might consider purchasing this one. It makes mashing a lot easier than you can imagine and isn’t that expensive. Now you can mash like a pro- and it is easy to clean. There are a lot of kitchen items out there to mash potatoes with, but we want simple, easy to use- no assembly required, and when the potatoes are digesting- easy to clean.
Get a good digital thermometer if you’re making a turkey the traditional way, roasting it in an oven. Avoiding a dry turkey is key. The way to avoid it is to take the turkey out before it gets above 160 degrees F (we recommend 148 degrees F) and allow the turkey to rest for twenty minutes. You can make the best gravy in the world, but all the gravy won’t help choke down a dry turkey. One of the most common Thanksgiving day emergency room visits comes because someone gets turkey stuck in their esophagus at Thanksgiving. This happens because of two problems: the turkey is overcooked, so it is too dry – and the person is taking too large a bite. You can’t help how fast your friends and family eat, but you can provide them with a moist turkey.
The thermometers that have probes will alert you when the turkey reaches the desired temperature. Every oven is different, every turkey is different. Use of a thermometer insures that the turkey will not be dried out.
Turkey meat retains its moisture up to 160 degrees, then the proteins begin to unwind and lose the water trapped inside. When this happen the meat is “dry” and when you cut the turkey the juices flow (this is not a good sign). If the turkey is taken out at 148 degrees and rested on the counter top the temperature will rise a bit and then cool, allowing the meat to retain moisture. A turkey that is taken out at 160 degrees is well on its way to being dry.
Turkey at 148 degrees will effectively be “pasteurized” within a few seconds – and is safe to consume – even if some of the meat is pink.
A good roasting pan will last a lifetime. The new ones are beautiful, have curved tops to allow for easy flow of juices, and can be used for a variety of uses. Besides the once a year turkey, they can be used for leg of lamb, poaching, roasting other meats. The pans are well made- and our intent is to pass this pan on to our son.
There is a great deal to be said for the disposable aluminum roasting pans you find at grocery stores. They are single use, do not have to be cleaned, and do not have to be stored. So if the only roasting you do is the once a year turkey and have limited storage space these might be a good alternative.
Cooking turkey Sous Vide style provides a safe method of cooking the turkey. Be sure to watch our 90 second video on cooking turkey sous vide. There are a number of Sous Vide units available, and can fit any budget. Since we use this method of cooking several times a week, we have a great machine that we recommend to many.
The peanut oil turkey fryers are cumbersome, known to cause a number of fires, and you have to dispose of the oil. Sous Vide cooking is safer, and allows a convenient way to take care of the leftovers (since they are already in a vacuum sealed bag). Our recipe for Sous Vide turkey can be found at www.terrysimpson.com. I have used this method for over five years, and even bring sous vide cooking to homes where I am invited – everyone loves this style of cooking.
Did you just send invite a few friends and family over for Thanksgiving and now are wondering what to do? No worries, we have the perfect planner for Thanksgiving.
Where To Buy
I’ve gathered my favorite holiday meal cooking tools in one place. You can easily visit my amazon page to get yours.
Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and received his MD. Dr. Simpson, a renowned weight loss surgeon, is a leading advocate of culinary medicine. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.