Chef Chris Starkus’ Tips for Elevating Thanksgiving at Home
As much as we would love to host all of Denver for Thanksgiving dinner, we know for some, it’s a holiday spent at home with family. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the creativity, flair and flavor of a restaurant dining experience. As it turns out, there are some simple ways to take your Thanksgiving dinner to the next level and Executive Chef Chris Starkus is spilling all his saucy secrets.
Tip #1. Plan ahead. From buying and thawing the turkey to preparing enough plate ware and flatware for the guest list, planning ahead is a crucial part of nailing a next level dinner. That’s all we have to say on the subject now, however, this tip will come back up, soon!
Tip #2. Pull the turkey apart. Unless you have a massive crowd to please with a whole roasted turkey, Chef Chris encourages you to try pulling the turkey apart and making several dishes with the same bird. The best way to do this? Confit the dark meat. Confit may sound like an intimidating word, saved for the select, advanced at-home cooks, however, it’s a fairly simple process that requires the meat to be salt-cured for a few days (remember, plan ahead!) and then slowly cooked in melted fat. The result? An incredibly tender and flavorful meat perfect for greeting your guests as an hors d’oeuvres before dinner.
Tip #3. Brine the turkey. Whether you plan to follow Tip #2 and brine and roast just the crown of the turkey (the breasts left on the bones, once the dark meet is taken off), or you decide to brine and roast the turkey as a whole, the key here is to brine. Brining will require the turkey to be submerged in equal parts sugar, salt and water for at least 8 hours before roasting (again, plan ahead!), and will help with moisture retention, ensuring you have a juicy, evenly seasoned turkey from the inside, out.
Tip #4. Use thanksgiving leftovers to create an entirely new dish. It’s no secret Chef Chris is a big proponent of composting, recycling and reducing waste in the kitchen. His favorite way to cut out the Thanksgiving waste at home? Creating a Shepherd’s Pie with Thanksgiving leftovers!
What are your favorite tips for celebrating Thanksgiving at home?