Entertaining Archives - ig2go

8 Tips for the Perfect Roast Turkey

Thanksgiving turkey – for some, it is the centerpiece of a delightful thanksgiving day full of warm memories and family bonding. For others, it is the sad, dry, even disappointing result of a recipe that never seems to turn out right. With so many recipes, cooking methods, and potential for mistakes, cooking a whole turkey can be a daunting task, let alone cooking a whole turkey that actually tastes good. Today we’re going to go over our favorite tricks and explain the science of why they work so well.

Tip 1 – Start with the right Turkey

As you already know, we care deeply about the quality of the ingredients we use in our foods. The better building blocks you have to start with, the better the outcome will be of your finished product. Picking up a high-quality bird for your thanksgiving feast will already give you a leg up for a delicious centerpiece.

What do we mean by ‘high quality?’ Mostly we mean buying a fresh turkey, not a frozen turkey. Freezing a turkey can cause tiny ice crystals to form around cells, causing the meat to dry out more during the cooking process. Fresh turkeys will generally retain that moisture, which is going to help keep the meat nice and juicy. Fresh turkeys are also generally fed a better diet, are often raised free-range, and are often organic and antibiotic-free. We believe all of these qualities result in a better turkey for your table.

Tip 2 – Brine Brine Brine

If you’re going to do anything to improve your turkey recipe this year, you should add brine to the process. Rub it with a dry brine, and then refrigerate for at least 6 hours (or up to 24 hours) OR brine the turkey in a liquid brine for 12 – 24 hours.

What does brining do? Surprisingly a lot. First off, the salt in a brine helps to break down some of the muscle proteins in the meat, stopping it from contracting as much as it’s cooked, and the result is more tender meat that hasn’t squeezed out its own moisture. The second big benefit comes from the process of osmosis, where the salt first pulls moisture out of the meat, but over time as the meat and brine stabilize, the brine then begins to penetrate the semi-permeable cell walls of the meat reintroducing moisture back into the cell that will remain there to keep the meat nice and juicy while it cooks. Dry brine and wet brine both work the same way, but we personally prefer a wet brine for our birds. Regardless of which method you use, ALWAYS keep the bird refrigerated as it brines, and be sure to only brine for the recommended size for your bird. Over-brining is a thing, and trust us when we say it’s not something you want to experience yourself.

Tip 3 – Dry after brine

This one is mostly for anyone who went with the wet-brine method, AND if you still want that heavenly crispy skin. Once you’ve finished the 12-24 hour wet brine, remove the turkey from the liquid, and put it back in the fridge to ‘dry’ for another 24 hours. This helps give more time for the salt and moisture it absorbed during the brine to be thoroughly dispersed throughout the whole bird, and allows the skin to get crispy and golden in the final stages of roasting.

Tip 4 – The warm-up

Before your turkey goes in the oven, we recommend allowing it to come up to room temperature first. Obviously don’t leave it out for hours, but just long enough that it’s not fridge-cold. This allows the turkey to cook more evenly since the internal temperature and the exterior temperature won’t be so far apart once the bird makes it to the oven.

Tip 5 – Butter bath

Our favorite method for getting that perfect golden crispy skin is slathering butting UNDER the turkey skin before it goes in the oven. You want an even coast as if you were applying suntan lotion at the beach. If you really want to step it up, mix some fresh herbs in the butter before you get to slathering. This is a wonderful way to infuse some flavor into your thanksgiving feast.

Tip 6 – Trust us, don’t truss

This one is based on our experience and may depend on what kind of oven you’re cooking in. Personally, we prefer to not truss our turkeys (tying the legs together) We find that our turkeys cook more evenly when the legs are not tied, and the heat has a better chance of circulating around the whole bird.

Tip 7 – Treat your bird to a sauna

We recommend raising your turkey off the bottom of your roasting dish with a rack to help again with even circulation of air. But don’t leave the roasting dish empty, through some broth in there! Not only does this help create a moist environment for the turkey to cook in, but it also provides a flavorful head start if you’re planning on turning the drippings into the gravy (who are we kidding, of course, you are).

Tip 8 – Patience is key

No matter how hungry your guests are, it is imperative that you allow the bird to rest for 30 minutes once it comes out of the oven. Cutting into it too early will allow some of that moisture we’ve worked so hard to evaporate as steam or pool out into a big puddle on the serving platter. When you let the turkey rest, you allow that heat to dissipate and the meat will retain more of that moisture where it’s supposed to be, evenly distributed throughout the whole bird.

And there you have it, our top tips for roasting the perfect thanksgiving turkey. We know everyone has their favorite methods, and everyone has their own preferences for what they’re looking for in a roast. But for us, this process results in a juicy succulent bid that’s full of flavor, with a crispy golden skin that you’ll be dreaming about all year long. the process in time-consuming, but we promise it’s worth it.

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No time for cooking this year?

Hey, we get it. Time is a commodity and every second is worth treasuring. And we absolutely get that not everyone loves cooking as much as we do (there’s a reason we own and operate a restaurant after all) If you’re short on time, or if you’d rather enjoy a day relaxing with your family rather than work in the kitchen, we applaud you for recognizing that and we would love to take care of the cooking for you.

Enjoy a delicious and unforgettable holiday feast without sacrificing your time and without all the fuss of cooking but ordering from our seasonal holiday menu. Whether you’re looking to go all out with a whole turkey or ham and all the fixings, or if you’re looking for something a little smaller for a smaller gathering, we’ve got you covered.

Check out the full holiday menu HERE, and be sure to get your pre-orders in before the deadline passes.

 

 

Our Favorite Dishes and Dips for Entertaining – Great Taste and Great for You

We all love a great get-together, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying good company. And nothing warms people’s hearts and brings us together better than good food. And when we say “good” food, we mean food that tastes great and is also great FOR you. We’ve gathered a list of our favorite dishes to serve that will be a hit at your next gathering.

1. Buffalo Cauliflower

Buffalo anything is always a welcome addition to most gameday spreads. We love going for buffalo cauliflower not only for the added veggie benefits, but also to make sure our spread feels inclusive for our vegetarian/vegan guests. Can’t give up the standard buffalo chicken? Serve both, and let your guest enjoy choosing for themselves.

2. Plantain Chips

A wonderful crunchy alternative to your standard potato chip, and plantains are naturally higher in Vitamin A and C. Great served with any dips or even just on their own.

3. Sweet Potato Wedges

If you’re going to do potatoes, we say opt for sweet potatoes. Although potatoes themselves are not a bad food (honestly we don’t believe any vegetable or whole food is ‘bad’), sweet potatoes do have a lower glycemic index, which means the wont cause a sugar spike and crash like other potatoes might.

4. Black Bean Dip

This dip is packed with protein and flavor, and contains zero fat. Great as a spread, or a dip, and the creamy black velvet texture can be a unique eye-catching addition to any table.

5. Babaganoush

Another fantastic and flavorful dip, and because it’s primary ingredient is eggplant, you get the nutritional benefits being high in fiber, and relatively low in calories. Babaganoush is also full of healthy fats from the olive oil and Tahini.

6. Layered Hummus Dip

Who doesn’t love hummus? Take this classic dip to the next level by layering on crumbled feta, chopped cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and olives for a fresh crunchy bite that is sure to satisfy. Start with our classic hummus and add the toppings fresh before your guests arrive.

7. Tomato Bruschetta

Another classic, we love bruschetta for the bright color and flavor of the heirloom tomatoes. Paired with some fresh arugula, balsamic reduction, and crusty bread, you’ve got a combination that won’t disappoint.

8. Spring Rolls W/Prawns

Packed with fresh veggies and protein, with a satisfying crunch, and paired with a perfectly savory Ponzu dipping sauce, these spring rolls are a great way to as flavor and color to your evenings selection.

9. Farro salad

Yes, we’ve included a salad on this list. But this isn’t just any salad. We take Italian pearled farro and mix it with sautéed mushroom and onions, roasted bell peppers, broccoli, and arugula. toss everything in a simple red wine vinaigrette, and you have a salad that’s full of good nutrients and wont leave your guests hungry ten minutes later.

10. Chicken Montanara

We think this one already starts off strong with out organic free range chicken, but it really starts to shine with the addition of bright sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and artichokes.

11. Ahi Tuna Tartar

If we had to pick a favorite on this list, this might be it. The perfect combination of marinated Ahi tuna with the fresh cucumber and green onion relish is a great way to add a touch of elegance and uniqueness to your gathering. Not to mention this dish is full of good nutrients.

12. Flank Steak Skewers

These skewers are honestly so simple, but so perfect at the same time. Beautifully marinated with fresh herbs, and paired with roasted peppers for a flavor that is full and well rounded. They key is the fresh high quality ingredients that help keep this dish flavorful and wholesome.

13. Juice Shots

Whats a celebration without a few shots? We love these for gatherings as a fun creative way to mix things up and give guest the chance to try a concentrated boost of wellness in an easy sip. Serve them on a platter in tiny shot glasses, garnishes with some edible flowers or tiny fruit skewers!

14. Peanut Butter Honey Squares

Sweet and nutty, our peanut butter honey squares are good for more than a quick afternoon snack. These hunks of goodness can provide a satisfying bite to any appetizer spread, are go well with just about anything

15. Dark Chocolate almond Stars

The dark chocolate makes these sweets balanced, and they are perfect for sharing as each bite is already individually portioned

There are many excellent ways to host a gathering and plan a menu that is as nutritious as it is delicious. We love being able to offer these options to make it easy, so no matter if you’re planning a special celebration or a casual get-together, everyone can enjoy the moment while enjoying healthy, wholesome foods.

 

 

Building the Perfect Grazing Board

Grazing boards, Charcuterie boards, and cheese boards have all hit massive levels of popularity over the past few years. And honestly, we can absolutely see why they’re so popular. When done well, they are beautiful additions or centerpieces for any table setting, they are fun for guests to snack on and explore new flavors, and they can be fully customizable to any theme, group size, or dietary preference. The best part; It’s not rocket science, and there’s no WRONG way to put a board together. Today we’re going to go over some helpful tips on how to get started.

Charcuterie VS Grazing Board. What’s the difference?

Great question. The word “charcuterie” comes from the French language, and signifies “a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes”. Nowadays, the word has evolved a lot to encompass both fine deli meats and cheeses, and in most cases, you’ll even see fruits, nuts, bread, and olives included in charcuterie boards. the main factor here is that a charcuterie board does usually signify that there is meat included. On the other hand, a “grazing” board can be much more versatile. Grazing boards may be entirely vegetarian, with a unique selection of roasted vegetables, pickles, and jams, or they can be entirely dessert based, with chocolates, fruits, or other sweets. A “grazing” board is simply a display of snack-able foods that guests can “graze” on casually.

Getting started: Serving platter and utensils.

The platter doesn’t have to be massive or ornate, something that you only use for special occasions. Just about ANY flat surface will work. Some ideas you may already have laying around the house:

  • Cutting board (wood, or otherwise)
  • Baking tray (the sides can be helpful in some cases
  • Breadboard
  • Marble pastry board
  • Large flat-ish serving platters (For instance, maybe that big plate used for serving the thanksgiving turkey)
  • Countertop (yup, right on the counter surface. Great if you don’t have to worry about transportation. We recommend putting a layer of parchment paper down for easy cleanup.)

For utensils, we love to include small bowls or jars for items like jams, honey, Olives, or even smaller nuts like pistachios. Be sure to include small spoons to give guests a way to scoop these items.

In general, we prefer to pre-cut anything that will be on the platter into bite-size pieces, but if there’s anything that’s meant to be spread, or that will need to be cut, be sure to include the necessary cheese knives for each of those items.

Lastly, if you don’t want guests to use their fingers, make sure you’re providing either toothpicks and/or a few sets of tongs instead.

What to include:

Because this is such an open question, we are going to outline a few shopping lists based on different themes/styles. As we stated in the beginning, there’s no wrong way to build a grazing board, and you should absolutely customize your board based on what you and your guests enjoy. For quantities, we like to go with about 2oz of each item per person as a rule of thumb (as an appetizer), enough for each person to try a little bit of everything. These examples should serve as a starting point for you to build off. Feel free to make it your own, and tag us if you decide to share it on social!

The Classic Charcuterie:

  • 3-5 types of thinly sliced delicatessen meats
  • 3-5 varieties of cheese (some soft, some hard)
  • 1-2 types of olives or pickles
  • 1-2 types of nuts (roasted or raw)
  • 3-4 types of crackers/crusty bread
  • 1-2 types of Fruits (usually grapes, apples, or pears)
  • 1-2 types of dried fruit (figs or apricots are a great option)
  • 1-2 options for jam or honey

 

The Veggie Table

  • 3-5 varieties of cheese (some soft, some hard)
  • 1-2 types of olives or pickles
  • 2-3 types of nuts (roasted or raw)
  • 3-4 types of crackers/crusty bread
  • 3-4 options for spreads/dips (this can include hummus, jams, tapenade, mustards, etc.)
  • 2-3 raw veggies (thinly sliced radishes, cucumbers, etc.)
  • 2-3 Cooked veggies (Roasted rep pepper, Roasted tomatoes, Butternut squash, etc)
  • 2-3 Fresh OR Dried fruit (Berries, grapes, etc.)

 

The Sweat Heat

This board can be a variation of either the Classic Charcuterie or the Veggie Table, but the focus is on the types of items you decide to include. Try to incorporate a mix of spicy and sweet. Some examples may include:

  • Peppered Salame
  • Hot Capocollo
  • Chorizo Serrano
  • Chipotle Gouda
  • Habanero Cheddar
  • Peperoncino peppers
  • Hot stone-ground mustard
  • Hot pepper honey
  • Blueberry goat cheese
  • Caramelized onion jam
  • Rosemary honey walnuts
  • Candied dried fruits
  • Baked brie topped with jam

 

The Dessert Lover

This is a sweet treat, and the possibilities are endless. We’re listing a few of our favorite items here that are easy to serve, and that look great on a grazing board

  • Yogurt covered pretzels
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries
  • Dark chocolate almond stars
  • Brownie bites
  • 1-2 types of cookies/wafers/ sweet biscuits
  • Nutella and jams for dipping
  • Fruits (yes, fruits are sweet and can definitely be included on your dessert board!)
  • 2-3 varieties of nuts (can be sweet or salty)
  • Whole honeycomb (a beautiful addition to any board)
  • Creamy cheese and crackers (optional, but can be nice if you want some more savory options mixed in on this board).

 

Putting it all together:

Arranging your board partially depends on how big your platter is, and how many guests you’re serving. In general, the different types of items you’re including should be evenly spaced out. That way all the cheese isn’t in one corner, and all the fruits in another. Unless of course, you’re making a very small board and there’s only one of each thing. But in general, we would recommend starting with one group of items and spacing them out across the board. Then move to the next category of items, and so on, and so on. It’s also helpful to place items that go well together next to each other. For instance, if you have Brie and pears on your board, maybe place those next to each other. But again, there’s no wrong way to arrange a board. Just keep three things in mind:

  • Create visual interest
  • Make sure each category of items is accessible from multiple sides of the board (so your guests don’t crowd around one corner)
  • Things that go well together, should be next to each other.

And there you have it! Your guide to creating the grazing board of your dreams. Remember that making a board should be a fun exploration of flavors, and you should tailor it to your needs. And grazing boards are an excellent way for you and your guests to try something new!

Be sure to check out our selection of serving boards, unique deli meats and cheeses, and artisanal goods. We rotate our selection often, so come back often to see what’s new. And if you ever need more assistance to craft your next board, our team is happy to help make recommendations.