Holiday Cooking Tips

The holidays are a time for being with family and sharing in traditions. Typically this means an evening spent sitting around the dinner table swapping stories and eating good food. Whether you spend hours in the kitchen cooking old family favorites or opt for the highest rated Food Network recipes, preparing a family sized holiday feast is a lot of hard work, and something that local chefs know about all too well. Here a few local chefs share their cooking tips and ideas for a knock-out holiday feast for you to test in your own kitchen. Who knows, maybe these experts will even inspire a few new traditions.

Potatoes

LISA DUPAR, POMEGRANATE BISTRO/LISA DUPAR CATERING: “My favorite half/half combo is half Yukon gold mashers and half turnips or parsnips. Make the same way as mashers with a touch of half and half and butter, seasoning salt or simply salt and fresh pepper. For a heart-healthy version, use low fat cottage cheese and mash into potatoes. It gives a creamy tasty consistency that’s a bit healthier.”

BOBBY MOORE, BARKING FROG, WOODINVILLE: “When I make mashed potatoes I use local Yukon gold for the flavor and consistency. I actually make whipped potatoes by using a ricer to keep it smooth and silky. First, starting the potatoes in cold water helps keep them from becoming too gluttonous. Typically I use smaller potatoes so I don’t have to cut them. If you cut them they tend to take on too much water. In a small pot I melt the butter and cream together making it easier once the potatoes are put through the ricer to incorporate the flavors without over whipping (makes them gluey or over gluttonous if you start with cold butter). Finish with salt and pepper. The simpler the better so all of the flavors stand out.

BRIAN SCHEEHSER, TRELLIS, KIRKLAND: “Our potatoes this year will be from the Trellis root cellar, and all are harvested from my own 3-acre farm in Woodinville. Trellis will be featuring pan-seared Russian fingerlings, purple fingerlings and rose finn mashed potatoes. Use lots of cream and butter and you can’t go wrong! Holidays are a time to enjoy the finer things in life.”

Turkey

LISA DUPAR, POMEGRANATE BISTRO/LISA DUPAR CATERING: “I have used the same method of cooking my turkey for years, for a reason–it ALWAYS gets rave reviews. I start out with the turkey completely sealed and tented with onion, carrots, celery, V-8 juice, chicken stock, brandy, bay leaf, sage and fresh herbs. I cook it half the required cook-time completely sealed (air-tight) on high heat, about 450. Then for the last half of the cooking time, I uncover it and turn the heat down to 350. I baste and brown it until it is done. This is consistently YUMMY and moist–even the next day reheated as leftovers.”

BOBBY MOORE, BARKING FROG, WOODINVILLE: “I reflect on my best bird and I have to say that it’s been the organic turkeys raised right here in the Northwest. I have deep fried turkeys and roasted turkeys, but nothing comes close to the turkey that was on brine overnight and slow smoked for 10 hours. It was a lot of work but well worth the wait. One trick I have to tell you about smoking turkeys is to wrap the turkey in cheese cloth so the bird doesn’t turn black during the smoking process. Take the cloth off the bird for the last hour and you have yourself a pretty tasty turkey. It seems to be all the rage to brine your turkey these days and I wonder why it took so long to catch on. The turkey turns out so much better with the added moisture. I brine my bird with water, champagne, salt, sage, garlic, shallots, black peppercorns and fresh bay leaves.”

BRIAN SCHEEHSER, TRELLIS, KIRKLAND: “I feel the best flavor can be obtained through the quality of the bird. Free-range organic is the way to go! Slow roast at 300 degrees simply with fresh herbs on a bed of fennel, onions, carrots, celery, leeks and bay leaf, a dusting of sea salt, pepper and ample amounts of sage. The veggies and herbs add to the drippings to create exceptional gravy.”

Greens

LISA DUPAR, POMEGRANATE BISTRO/LISA DUPAR CATERING: “For all you Brussels sprout haters out there–this will convert you! Cut the bottom off each sprout, peel each individual petal off, and quickly blanch the loose petals (15 seconds) in boiling water. Cool down. Oven roast little cipollini onions (peeled) until caramelized and done. Slice the onions in half. In a sautè pan, heat a little bit of sliced bacon, the onions and the Brussels sprout petals. Season them to taste with salt and pepper. Serve as a side and be ready for people’s surprised reaction to how much they LOVE Brussels sprouts.”

BOBBY MOORE, BARKING FROG, WOODINVILLE: “I make green bean casserole like all the rest, but actually cook cream down until thick with wild mushrooms. This my version of cream of mushroom. I add pancetta and top it off with crispy fried shallot rings that I cook in the fat that is rendered from the pancetta. Some years I have added the turkey leg confit to the green bean casserole instead of adding it to the stuffing.”

BRIAN SCHEEHSER, TRELLIS, KIRKLAND: “Fresh green beans, winter chanterelles and truffles–add salt tossed with beurre noir and topped with hard boiled quail eggs. Serve warm, in a casserole dish.”

Dressing

POMEGRANATE BISTRO/LISA DUPAR CATERING: “My Southern roots come alive at Thanksgiving. I have to have my traditional cornbread stuffing with sausage and mushrooms. I always drizzle my yummy turkey jus (after it’s roasted) over the dressing to keep it moist and it adds a ton of flavor. I do NOT bake the stuffing in the turkey.”

BOBBY MOORE, BARKING FROG, WOODINVILLE: “(I make) turkey roulade with the breast and stuff it with goodies. I wrap the breast with Saran wrap and tie it with butcher string, then poach the breast for 10 minutes, followed by shocking it in cold water to stop the cooking process. At this point the breast is still not cooked through. Cut the roulade making 3-inch pucks then wrap each puck with caul fat and place the pucks on an oiled sheet pan and roast until cooked through. I take the leg and thigh and confit them in duck fat, pick out the dark meat and mix it in with potato bread, eggs, sage, cream, garlic, salt and pepper and make individual bread puddings. This is my version of stuffing.”
BRIAN SCHEEHSER, TRELLIS, KIRKLAND: “I like lots of sausage, celery and onion in my stuffing with homemade turkey stock, crusty bread and lots of fresh sage. Always bake stuffing on the side to get a bit of a crispy crust on top.”

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