Monthly Archives: November 2014

Turkey Time

On the TV show “The Chew” the other day, chefs offered conflicting advice about how long it takes to defrost a turkey. With Thanksgiving on the way, I wanted to know the truth, so I turned to the National Turkey Federation, an organization that represents turkey farmers and processors.

According to the Federation’s site, the best method is defrosting in the refrigerator, which will take 24 hours for each four or five pounds of bird weight, although how often you open the door and other factors can affect the process. If you’re pressed for time, however, you can defrost faster under cold running water or in the microwave. For additional safety tips and details, go to the site using this link:

I Get Ganache

For a long time, I was intimidated by idea of making ganache, that fancy French chocolate sauce. It seemed too elegant to be easy. But I was sweetly surprised when I tried the recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl, Conde Naste Publications, 2004.

The frosting recipe accompanying the book’s Orange-Chocolate Chip Cupcakes called for only two ingredients (3/4 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and ¼ cup of heavy cream) and took 5 minutes. I just simmered the cream, poured it over the chips sitting in a heat-proof bowl and stirred occasionally, until the two combined into a silky sauce. To achieve the thicker consistency I preferred, I simply let the frosting stand.

The ganache made an impressive glaze on the cupcakes. Even better, the leftover frosting kept in the frig for more than a week, where reheated it became a terrific treat on fruit and pound cake.

Chef’s Thanksgiving Secret

I was surprised and heartened by an unexpected admission from Brooks Headley, pastry chef at New York City’s Del Posto Restaurant and author of the new cookbook Fancy Desserts. Regarding preparing the holiday meal, he revealed that he uses “a lot of food from cans and packages,” also claiming that no chef he knows makes everything from scratch on Thanksgiving.

In a piece entitled “My Unfancy Thanksgiving,” appearing in the November 2014 issue of Food & Wine Magazine, Headley insists that canned pumpkin puree makes a better pie than any fresh pumpkin or squash he has ever tried and that dried herbs (versus fresh) make stuffing “taste like Thanksgiving.” He even owns up to serving smooth cranberry sauce from a can. “How else do you get that perfect slab?” he asks.