Thanksgiving Dinner Tips From Claire Thomas

Thanksgiving Dinner Tips From Claire Thomas
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Thanksgiving Dinner Tips From Claire Thomas

Let Claire Thomas take the hassle out of the prep for Thanksgiving dinner.

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Turkey Tips: Not Drying Out The Bird

"The trick to not having a dry turkey, chicken or any sort of poultry that you are going to be roasting is to brine it," advises Claire. "I’m actually a pretty lazy kitchen cook. I'm not the person who is waking up early and making croissants for my family. I love cooking, but I also have a job and a life so I totally understand time restraints. But brining is one of those things that is really cheap and completely passive. It is so easy, but it has such a big impact."

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Turkey Tips: Brining Turkey

“Brining means all you need to do is submerge the turkey in a stockpot filled with water and salt. If you want you can add a couple of flavors to it. I always add a little bit of brown sugar, bay leaves and peppercorn. The salt in the water allows the liquid to go into the bird, so it is really plumped up,” Claire explains. This process keeps the turkey tender, so that when you roast the bird, the juices remain inside the meat. According to Claire, “Brining allows you to have the juiciest flavor from the inside out. “

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Turkey Tips: Invest In A Thermometer

Claire suggests that an accurate cooking thermometer is a great investment for cooking meat. “I use it all the time; it's so helpful,” says Claire. “Especially if meat is an intimidating prospect, which it definitely is for a lot of home cooks because it is expensive and very easy to mess up. If you know the temperature you want, it’s full-proof every time.“

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Turkey Tips: Measuring Heat

“For a turkey I put the thermometer into the side and wait until it is about 160. Turkeys are such large birds that when you pull them out of the oven and cover them with foil to rest, the internal cooking temperature will continue to go up a bit to 165, which is the FDA approved temperature." If the temperature is nearing 150 degrees and isn't dark enough, turn on the broiler since you know it will be done internally soon. If it is getting dark too early, cover the turkey with aluminum foil to make sure it doesn't get too dark while it finishes cooking internally. "Knowing temperature is key to getting the perfect turkey every time.”

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Gravy Tips: Full Flavor

“The trick to making gravy is [to] use as much drippings from the pan as you can. That’s where the flavor is. If you want to make it ahead of time, you can buy turkey wings and roast those. [Add] salt, pepper and thyme as you would any other turkey and get drippings from that. The core to getting really good gravy is the roux.”

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Gravy Tips: Use a Roux

“A roux is a combination of fat and flour. It gives liquid something to cling to," explains Claire. "If you want that thick, succulent gravy, you need to have a really good roux for the stock and the broth to connect to."

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Gravy Tips: Making A Good Roux

“If you are going to make a small batch, use a half cup of turkey fat and drippings -- which are the juices, bits and pieces that come out of the cooking process. Pour that off in a glass cup, and put it in the fridge overnight because then the fat solidifies and you can just scoop the fat off and add that to your roux immediately."

"If you don't have time, you can just wait for 15 minutes and it'll start separating. Pour the fat off into a pan with equal amounts of flour. If it is a big batch, you can always supplement that with butter. You want to be sure that your roux cooks for a good bit of time. You want your roux to be at least golden brown,” Claire explains. It’s important to cook this mixture thoroughly, otherwise it could taste like raw flour. The final step is to add stock, and if the original mixture hasn’t properly cooked, then the gravy will not be as flavorful. Claire advises to “cook the roux until it’s golden brown, so you get all of those great caramelized flavors."

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Gravy Tips: Gravy Secret

“My little trick is that I always add a tablespoon or two of brandy. It adds a bit of richness and depth. I’m not going to be making my broth from scratch, so a really quick way to add flavor is by using something like a really great brandy or a whiskey. It just adds a little bit of smoke, a little bit of depth."

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Gravy Tips: Salt Properly

"Make sure to salt your gravy properly. This is something you are pouring on top of everything, so you don’t want it too salty, but it should have a lot of flavor. Don't be afraid to add salt and pepper to your gravy."

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Claire Thomas knows a lot about cooking.

This is no surprise as she's a food blogger, the host of a cooking show, a food stylist and a food photographer. She has noticed similarities in many of the questions she receives from fans, which has prompted her to shoot a series of how-to videos, 10 Second Living.

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, Claire has offered to share the most common questions she is asked. From turkey brining to gravy making, Claire has got you covered.

Check out the slideshow above to learn how to keep your turkey moist, how to make a good roux and more.

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