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An easy, delicious Thanksgiving dinner

November 8, 2017
By MEGHAN McCOY (mmccoy@breezenewspapers.com) , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Do you want a stress free holiday of cooking, while preparing a delicious Thanksgiving meal? One local chef has shared a few secrets to make your guests ooh and aah over your holiday dishes.

Sanibel Community House Resident Chef Jarred Harris said the key to a successful Thanksgiving dinner is preparing it ahead of time.

"You just have to think," he said of the preparations.

A delicious southern Thanksgiving meal can be made healthy by removing as much salt and sugar out of the holiday dinner as possible. In addition, Harris said not to be afraid of cutting back on the amount of butter a recipe calls for, or supplementing the butter with milk.

"You're pulling the fat and calories out" of the dinner, Harris said.

A delicious easy sweet potato side dish one can make this holiday season only incorporates four ingredients, a mandolin slicer and a square dish.

First wash the skin of a bonito potato, the closest to a true yam in the sweet potato family, before using the mandolin slicer to slice the potato really thin. Once it is sliced, the potato will be "shingled" in the dish. Harris said the potatoes have to be shingled in a row, before changing the direction in the next row. Once the bottom layer is covered with potatoes sprinkle kosher salt and nutmeg over them before putting another layer of potatoes.

Continue this step until all of the potatoes are used. Pour heavy cream, completely covering the potatoes, tap it down and wait for it to settle before pouring more heavy cream. The heavy cream, Harris said should come up half way over the potatoes.

Cover the pan with tin foil and put in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour at 375 degrees. Uncover the dish and cook for another five minutes.

An easy mashed rooted vegetable dish incorporates only three ingredients - rutabaga, carrots and yellow potatoes. Harris said to boil the vegetables in salt and water and remove once they are fork tender.

"Mash like potatoes with a little bit of butter," he said.

Another option is steaming vegetables and then putting them into ice water until Thanksgiving Day. Harris said the key is to cook them al dente three days before the holiday.

"Don't overcook the vegetables," he said, adding that after the water starts boiling again, take them out of the water.

On Thanksgiving Day, heat them up in the microwave.

The stuffing, Harris said can be made five days before Thanksgiving. After the stuffing is made, lay two or three layers of saran wrap on the counter. Place the stuffing on top of the saran wrap before folding the wrap over the stuffing, while pressing all of the air out.

Harris said to roll the stuffing into a log, put it on a pan and then into the refrigerator.

"You have a hard tube of stuffing," he said.

On Thanksgiving day, slice the stuffing into two inch thick little mandolins, remove the saran wrap, and put on pan and bake until crispy. Then place the slices around the turkey.

Lastly, a delicious juicy turkey is quite simple to prepare.

Harris said the key is starting by cooking the turkey upside down in a pan for about an hour to an hour and a half. Mid way through turn the turkey right side up. He said all of the juices will go to the breast, turning it brown.

"Rest the turkey," Harris said, adding that if it is not rested, all the juices will seep out and create a dry bird.

If the turkey is cooked for two and a half hours, it should rest for 45 minutes.

"Cover it with tin foil and leave to rest," Harris said. "All of the juices will go back to the muscle and tissue and relax. Every slice will be juicy."

Harris is offering a class at the Sanibel Community House, 8 Simple Steps to a stress-free Thanksgiving Dinner" from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. The class is $50 per person and includes sampling. To register, visit sanibelcommunityhouse.net, or call (239) 472-2155.

 
 

 

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