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I’m really looking forward to hosting my family this Thanksgiving weekend. No really. I honestly love the whole turkey thing – the gravy, the sweet potato casserole, apple crisp, and pumpkin pie. Yummy! Nothing like the smell of turkey roasting in the oven! …And then we get to do it all over again at my in-laws. So, when it comes to turkeys I’ve tried all types – fresh and frozen. But when I get my fresh turkey everything is done for me at the butcher’s (thank you Ken). 
But I checked in with my good friend Penny Chmilar, who is the “hostess with the mostest” as she always has great advice when it comes to entertaining parties big and small and she makes it always seem so effortless. I was really curious about brining and she was able to give me a few tips!

What does BRINING mean anyway?

Brining is the placing of meat in a strong solution of water and salt (and other flavourings). Using the power of osmosis, the meat draws the water into itself, resulting in juicy, moist and seasoned meat.After much research, those who advocate brining seem to all agree that the extra work is well worth it. The result is delicious and moist dark and white meat, not only for dinner but for left overs too!
How to Brine a Turkey:
1. The turkey should be a natural turkey. Not self basting. The giblets and other innards should be removed prior to brining. 
2. The brine is 1 cup salt ot 1 gallon (approx 4 litres) of water. Season with spices, herbs to taste. Ideally you should brine for at least 4 hours and as many as 24 and do ti in a non-reactive container either plastic or glass. Turkey should be completely submerged and kept cold. 
3. Rinse and Dry the turkey to prevent an overly salty taste. Drying allows the skin to crisp while cooking. At the very least, pat the turkey dry or leave it uncovered in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
4. Roasting. Cook until the breast meat reaches 160 degrees and thighs at 170. Let the cooked turkey rest for at least 20 minutes to allow juices to distribute evenly and be retained when carving. 
Penny usually cooks for 18 to 24 people and I can definitely say she has it down to a fine art! What other tips does Penny have to offer? 
“For years I’ve prepared our stuffing in a bundt pan. When it’s inverted onto a serving plate, it’s a beautiful presentation!” says Penny. 

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When it comes to sides, her trick is to make the mashed potatoes, turnip and sweet potatoes the day before. “Originally I thought they would dry out but I put them in bakers to be reheated before dinner and they actually have more flavour!” She also roasts the turkey in the oven in the morning and let it sit on the counter covered for hours once it’s cooked. “It’s often still too hot to handle when carving is required,” says Penny. “As soon as the turkey is removed from the roasting pan, I make the gravy and transfer it to a sauce pan. The roaster is washed and put away so when my guests arrive, my kitchen is clean and there is no last minute rush to get the turkey out and make the gravy. It’s the most relaxed way to entertain, in my opinion!”
Easy as pie, right?
 
What are your Thanksgiving entertaining tips? We’d love to know!
Thanks Penny for sharing these great tips! Penny is a wonderful cook, mom and friend. She’s also a Pampered Chef consultant. You can check out her site for great tips for everyday meals and entertaining at www.pamperedchef.biz/pennychef

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