It’s turkey time! If your restaurant or food service operation is serving Thanksgiving dinner this year, making sure you have a delicious, flavorful bird is an absolute must. Better yet, if you have a combi oven from Convotherm, not only can you roast a turkey, you can smoke it as well!
Chef Ash from our friends at Zink Marketing has made a handy video, showing you a simple, easy to use way to make smoked turkey in your combi this Thanksgiving. And if you don’t have a combi oven, then you can find them at Central! Shop now for our selection of Convotherm combi ovens.
The countdown to T-Day has begun. Are you prepared?
Thanksgiving is arguably one of the greatest holidays of the year. It’s a time for catching up with loved ones, giving thanks, and stuffing yo’ face. For many homes and restaurants, the food is the centerpiece families flock around – a common cause to unite over. Of course, every family has their own traditions; however, we wanted to share a few suggestions for taking your Thanksgiving game to the next level.
The Main Attraction
It used to be back in the day, there was only one way to prepare turkey for Thanksgiving. Clean it, stuff it, throw it in the oven, watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and voila! But modern techniques such as deep frying and smoking have added brand new dimensions to Thanksgiving’s Main Event.
Roasting your turkey takes more technique to keep the bird moist. The long hours in the oven tend to dry out the bird if you aren’t careful. Brines, marinades and injections are all wonderful tips to bring the best out of your oven-cooked bird. Better yet, you can multitask, and add veggies to the bottom of the roasting pan, and let them become concentrated flavor-bombs, as they soak up the drippings.
If time is of the essence, then you can try deep frying! Deep frying drastically cuts the cooking time for turkey. There are deep fryers specifically made for turkeys. Frying your turkey keeps the juices locked in, resulting in a more moist bird. However, the list of wounded who carelessly tried to deep fry without taking the proper precautions are many. Butterball created a helpful page to help guide you on how to deep fry a turkey safely, which can be found here.
Smoking a turkey takes the longest out of the three preparation methods. However, the flavor of a turkey off of the grill or smoker is something to be savored. You have to be patient, but the results are totally worth it, as you have a bird with a beautiful skin and juicy meat. If you’re using a water or electric smoker, here is a how-to guide to get you started.
Some families are strictly traditional when it comes to their Thanksgiving meal, and others like to add a twist on classic favorites. No matter which way your family tends to lean, you cannot go wrong with these side dishes.
Spiced sweet potato pie baked into a butter crust and topped with a pillow of toasted marshmallor meringue.
For the crust:
1 ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
¼ – 1/3 cup water
For the filling:
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
2 large eggs
1/3 cup light of dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla abstract
For the meringue:
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
4 large egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make pie crust:
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss to coat. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until butter is the size of peas. Sprinkle water over the mixture and use a spoon or spatula and then your hands to bring it together into a ball. Add more water if necessary.
Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. When ready, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a rough 12-inch circle. Transfer to an 8 or 9-inch pie dish, tuck the ends under and crimp as desired. Prick the bottom with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes.
To make the filling:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool, then peel and remove any dark spots.
In a food processor, puree the sweet potatoes. Add the eggs, brown sugar, salt, and nutmeg, cinnamon, milk and vanilla and mix until smooth.
To bake the pie:
Line the pie crust with a greased foil and fill with baking weights or dried beans. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, then remove the parchment and beans and bake for an additional 10 minutes until set but not browned.
Remove the pie from the oven and pour the sweet potato filling into the crust. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake until filling is set, about 40 minutes.
To make the meringue:
Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, swirling the pan as it heats up to dissolve the sugar completely. Once the sugar mixture boils, insert a candy thermometer. Do not stir. Heat to 240 degrees (soft ball stage).
While the sugar is cooking, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until they just begin to form soft peaks.
With the mixer on low, add the sugar syrup in a small steady stream into the egg whites. Once all the syrup has been added, increase mixer speed to high and beat meringue to stiff and glossy peaks, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract.
Use a spatula to spread the meringue on top of the cooled pie, making sure the meringue goes all the way to the crust.
Toast meringue with a kitchen torch or in a 400-degree oven for about 7-10 minutes. Watch it carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Let pie cool to room temperature for at least 1 hour before slicing. Store pie in the fridge.
Pair the entire event together by selecting a wine that will complement the array of flavors and keep conversation flowing. The traditional wines served at Thanksgiving are either pinot noir or chardonnay.
Light, dry red wine usually with hints of cherry and cranberry flavors, and rich spices that burst when paired with the traditional side dishes a turkey requires.
A refreshing dry white wine, usually with buttery and oaky characteristics that mesh well with white meat.
Of course, these are only recommendations. Serve whatever wine your guests prefer, and when it doubt, offering a variety may be the way to go. Not everyone enjoys a dry wine, so having a sweeter option available is a good idea.
Turkey is the main attraction for Thanksgiving dinner, but the wine you choose to serve at your restaurant or home can be just as important. The decision can be quite daunting with the endless wine options. When deciding on wine purchases, you have to take in account all the variables. For example; how many will be attending dinner or will be dining at your restaurant? How long will the dinner last? White or red? There is still time to make last minute wine purchases to cater to your Thanksgiving Day guests.
How Much to Buy
Before the decision of what wine to buy, it is important to know how much to buy. You don’t want to run out of wine before the main course! The amount of wine your guests will drink depends on the amount of food being served. The longer the meal, the more wine is needed. If you have appetizers before the main course you will want to account for that as well. Keep in mind, if the meal is longer, you’ll want a wine with a lower alcohol percent. Thanksgiving is a time when adults tend to drink more wine, and you don’t want any of your guests to have to leave early!
What Wine to Serve
Once you have figured out how many guests you will have and the length of the meal, it is time to choose the combinations of wine you will be serving. Better Homes and Gardenssuggests serving sparkling, white and red wine throughout the meal. A sparkling wine, like champagne, is perfect to start with as your guests arrive and are mingling with others. These help the celebration start on the right note with their light and bubbly taste.
CC Image courtesy of Bar Wines by Alex Brown on Flickr
Moving to the appetizers or finger foods, white wines can be served to your guests to get their pallets ready for the main course. Serving a white wine with a lower alcohol percent would be beneficial here. Your guests will be drinking as much as they are eating. Better Homes and Garden advises to serve more fruity wines that are light, but crisp. Moscato or a Riesling would fit this description perfectly.
As the afternoon (or night) moves to the main course, red wine can be an option for your guest. Not everyone enjoys red wine, so be sure to have enough white wine for the main course as well. A red wine can add to the decoration of the dinner as well. It is important to choose a light red wine over a dry one. This will allow your guests to enjoy the smooth taste without the bitterness.
For dessert, it is really up to you. It also depends on the selection of desserts as well. If there is a bigger selection, wine might be too overwhelming for your guests. Wine does not necessarily need to be part of the dessert, but having it available for the guests who want it is not a bad idea. Sweeter white wines can be served again after dessert when your guests are starting to wind down and are grazing on leftover food.
Whether your are hosting guests at your home or at your restaurant, keep in mind these tips while purchasing wine for a great Thanksgiving Day. For all your wine needs from glasses to merchandisers to wine savers/stoppers, Central has you covered! Shop online or call one of our helpful product consultants at 800-215-9293 for information about all the options available.
It’s finally that time of year again where houses are illuminated by colorful Christmas lights, and the atmosphere seems a bit more cheery. The holidays are always a favorite time for people around the world, but some people don’t get to have a “happy” one.
This is where Giving Back takes place, especially for restaurants. Many restaurants helped out this past Thanksgiving by donating meals and feeding the hungry. Hubcap Grill owner Ricky Craig provided a Thanksgiving meal to 20 needy families in Houston, Texas. Craig wanted to help out needy families after he overheard a conversation with a little boy and his mother at a gas station. After posting a tweet about wanting to help out, Craig ended up giving a hundred dollars worth of food to 20 families. He ended up feeding 80 people that probably wouldn’t have eaten that day without his help.
Another restaurant decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner for the community. Old Chicago, located in downtown Manhattan, Kansas, opened their doors for a free Thanksgiving meal. At least 60 volunteers were on hand to serve everyone. The event created a family-like atmosphere to make guests who don’t have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with feel at home. Old Chicago also prepared meals to be delivered to hundreds around Manhattan who could not make it out of their homes, so that they could enjoy Thanksgiving as well. They served around 600 people this year.
Food drives are also a hit around the Holidays. Stadium Pizza, located in San Jacinto, California, held a canned food drive. Customers who donated non-perishable food items got discounts off of their pizzas.
One of Central’s customers, Luke’s Joint, pitched in and served a Thanksgiving Charity Lunch. They offered sliced turkey breast, glazed sweet potatoes, sweet peas, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and a mixed greens salad. The turnout was a big success, “Wow! What a tremendous success the 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Charity Lunch was this afternoon at Luke’s Joint!! We must have served about 100 people! I’d like to thank the three volunteers who showed up to help me today: Carol Anderson, Nick Cannella & Colin Curren. Without their help, this endeavor wouldn’t have gone NEARLY as smoothly as it did!” stated Luke Patterson.
The devastation of Hurricane Sandy left victims on the East Coast with no means of a Thanksgiving dinner. Restaurants and volunteers came together to serve free meals and deliver food to families whose homes were ravaged. A pastry chef in New Jersey made 2,200 desserts for people to eat. The American Red Cross served 35,000 hot Thanksgiving meals, including turkey, mashed potatoes and apple pie. Even New York City food trucks got into the giving spirit when it came to Hurricane Sandy. Free meals were given to thousands, thanks to the dozens of food trucks stepping up to help. Indian Harvest wanted to help out the victims of Hurricane Sandy, especially the chefs who lost their homes, or jobs. They donated more than a ton of their Kansas Medley to the East Coast. The medley included wheat berries, wild rice, parboiled long-grain rice and brown and wild rice.
Ways You Can Help:
Inspired? You should be! If you’re looking for ways that your restaurant can help give back to your community, look no further. Eric Ripert, Chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin, gives his ideas on how a restaurant can give back in this article from inc.com.
“1. Donate what you can’t use.
3. Fundraise as a team.
4. Participate in a fundraising event.
5. Create a win-win partnership.
6. Use your platform as a business leader to draw attention to a cause.”
To read the full article with Eric’s tips, click here.
If you want even MORE ideas on ways to give back during the Holidays, click here. Ivillage.com has 50 easy ways to help out. Spread the joy amongst everyone this holiday season!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Whatever you are up to for the day, whether it’s spending time with family, or grinding away at work (thank you, if you are), we hope it’s a great day for you.
Today’s blog is a compilation of Thanksgiving recipes and stories from the Central family–so it’s a long one. But use our “quick links” below if you’re only interested in seeing a certain recipe or story.
Take the other can of soup and mix it in, only a little at a time not to make too soupy–you may need to add a third can of soup depending how dry it still is, along with more milk
Spray or butter a deep casserole dish
Pour half of the macaroni mixture into the dish
Cover with cheese
Pour the rest of the macaroni over the cheese and cover with more cheese
Tricky Part: There needs to be some of the milk/soup collected in the bottom. If there isn’t any, pour a little milk to see about 1/2 inch of liquid in the bottom of the dish if a glass dish before baking. Also, swish the dish from end to end and side to side so you can distribute the milk to mix it in a bit and for the mixture to settle. If not a glass dish, eyeball it.
Bake at 350ºF for one hour (the top should be a little browned. The whole thing might be a little browned, and that is okay).
Baked Mashed Cauliflower Recipe
by Tracey Rector, Catalog/Web Content Coordinator
Around 15 million Americans have a food allergy–and I happen to be one of them. Peanuts and potatoes. Thankfully they aren’t dangerous, just enough for me to have changed my diet. I found out about the allergy about seven years ago, so it’s been seven years since I have had mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. (I’m totally okay with it though, you’d be amazed to know what you can live without when it doesn’t make you feel well.)
It wasn’t until this year I started experimenting with recipe swaps and I tested out different things with cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes. Of course, nothing beats a heaping pile of mashed potatoes, but I think I found the next best thing. I recently stumbled on this recipe from Pride and Vegudice called “The Best Mashed Cauliflower” and it has been the best I’ve had yet. I made a few changes which is what I will share below, but be sure to pop over to their site and view the original version.
2 medium-sized heads of cauliflower, washed and chopped into florets (I actually used two 12 oz. bags of frozen cauliflower from my local Kroger)
Side note on the ingredients: Original recipe calls for fresh Black pepper to taste and any herbs–feel free to add in your own, I tweaked it and put in the light butter instead
Pre-heat oven to 350ºF
Steam the cauliflower until it’s very tender
Puree in a food processor until smooth (scrape down the sides when necessary)
Add coconut oil, Parmesan cheese, sea salt, butter and any herbs/pepper you would like to add
Continue to puree until the texture you prefer (my preference is very smooth, so I pureed for a few minutes)
Pour pureed cauliflower into a casserole dish
Place in oven for 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown to give the top a thick texture
Green Bean Casserole with Funny Thanksgiving Story
by Carrie Shambarger, Category Manager
Thanksgiving seems to be the one holiday that always goes a little haywire in my family. For some families it’s Christmas or maybe Easter. Or maybe there are lucky families whose holidays are all picture-perfect and go off without a hitch. Not for my family.
One Thanksgiving a few years back takes the cake (mmm… rum cake, yum). The turkey was in the oven. Appetizers were being plated. Guests were to arrive within the hour. Toilets wouldn’t flush. The green bean casserole was… Wait, toilets wouldn’t flush?!?
Yes, the sewage system in the house decided Thanksgiving was a good day to clog up. We told the little kids in the house not to flush the toilets until further notice. Little kids, being little kids, promptly forgot and flushed the toilets repeatedly. Now we’ve got sewage on the bathroom floors. While that’s being cleaned up (can I just say, yuck), a couple courageous uncles ventured into the basement to work on the source of the problem, with a few bystanders ready to pitch in if needed. Not really. We were just there to watch as a clog broke free and promptly covered my uncles with some really nasty stuff. Ding dong! Guests are here!
Stories like these are usually not all that funny as they’re happening but afterwards they’re our favorite stories to remember and re-tell. Who remembers the perfect Christmas when the ham was perfect and the decorations were perfect and the conversation was… polite. Nobody.
We remember when the ham was frozen and the centerpiece caught on fire and the conversation was… spirited. That’s when memories are made. Life is about experiences, not about perfection. So don’t even try to make the next holiday get-together perfect. Of course don’t purposely try to get the dog to take off with your grandma’s wig and refuse to give it back (yes, it can happen), but if it happens, well, that’s a memory you’ll now have forever.
Now, about that green bean casserole, which is a MUST for any holiday even if you’re a Martha Stewart wannabe.
Stir soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cups of onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish
Bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes or until bean mixture is hot and bubbling
Stir bean mixture
Sprinkle with remaining onions
Bake for 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown
by Stephanie Paulson, Designer
Oh, Thanksgiving. What a truly American holiday—one of the few days we’re not only allowed, but encouraged to eat until we are full to bursting. But what is it about Thanksgiving that makes it so special? I mean, other holidays are celebrated with a feast, so what’s different about this one? With Christmas, you get stacks of presents. With Easter, you get baskets full of candy. With Independence Day, you get fireworks. And with Thanksgiving, you get…food. That’s it? That’s it—and that’s why Thanksgiving is so great: the spotlight is entirely on the food.
Other holidays are focused on something else, and the food is almost like an extra hassle we have to deal with. “The tree’s up, the lights are hung…crap! I need to make dinner!” The food is an afterthought, and often not particularly memorable. Because Thanksgiving emphasizes a singular concept, we are able to put more energy into reflecting on that theme, and can extract greater meaning from it. We’re not as distracted from the bigger picture: what all of this food really means to us. Thanksgiving, of course, is about just that—giving thanks. It’s the time of year we remember how fortunate and grateful we are to have such bountiful lives.
It’s a common saying that food is the key to someone’s heart, so when an entire day is dedicated to sharing food with those we care about, it really drives home the significance of that day. Meals take thought, energy, and time to prepare—things most people consider pretty important. So when they are willing to spend them on someone else, it’s a big deal. Even a simple 30-minute dinner is a display of affection, so a Thanksgiving feast that costs hours of planning and preparation, not to mention potential frustration and struggle, is overflowing with emotion. The way I see it, Thanksgiving is love.
This holiday is one that I’ve only recently become particularly sappy about. Growing up, it was always a relatively small occasion—definitely one I looked forward to, but as much as I hate to admit it, one I took for granted. I have a bit of a mixed family: step-parents and step-siblings (both older and younger), and throughout school there was not usually a problem getting us all together; plus, I’d get two dinners—one with Mom and one with Dad. Now that all of the kids have moved out, though, it’s much more difficult to make this work. My brother is married and just had a baby, and is starting his own traditions with his new family. My step-sisters live in Chicago and New York City, with high-profile jobs and busy schedules. I’m beginning to miss the simplicity of the holiday. I understand this is a time for transition, but I can’t help feeling a bit nostalgic.
On the other hand, I’ve really been looking forward to a new tradition I began participating in a few years ago. My step-mother’s sister hosts a huge Thanksgiving party, with the number of guests each year hovering around 30. It’s a fantastic mix of extended family and friends, and the dinner table makes a huge “L” throughout the dining and living rooms.
The pre-dinner mingling is great, sipping on wine and chatting while my stepmom’s sister follows her minute-by-minute schedule of things rotating in and out of the oven. The Macy’s day parade is usually on in the background, muted of course, but with great holiday music playing over it. The feast is beyond outstanding. Everyone contributes a dish or two, there are usually at least five different pies, and I’ve definitely added some new favorites to my list that I look forward to each time. But the best part about the entire day is going around the table one by one and telling everyone something we’re thankful for. Sometimes it’s a simple “for my family,” or even “that we get to eat soon.” There’s silly, serious, tearful, and hilarious things people say that cause us to examine our lives a bit more closely, even if only for a few minutes. I’m really beginning to love this holiday, because it’s the perfect time of year to reminisce upon the time that has passed, and look forward to the possibilities of the future.
I’m sure everyone has their own unique association with Thanksgiving—whether it’s a tradition or a memory, big or small, full of joy or full of pain. No matter what, though, it’s a time to reflect, forgive, and unite.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year—I hope it’s one you’ll remember forever.