Steamboat chefs give Thankgiving dinner tips |

Steamboat chefs give Thankgiving dinner tips

It may not be local, but the meal can be done right

Zach Fridell

Coury Armstrong, a chef at The Drunken Onion Get & Go Kitchen, shares his tips about how to make the holiday dinner a little more special this Thanksgiving while whipping up some potatoes in the kitchen.

— The day quickly is approaching. You have the bird and the ingredients to make a Thanks­giving spread your relatives have never seen the likes of. But with the trend of eating more locally grown food, the bare and snow-covered fields can be daunting.

The turkeys at the grocery store? They probably weren't raised in Routt County. Same goes for the hams. Even with the limitations imposed by the locale, local business owners and chefs said there are ways to bring the meal home.

Bill Hamil, of Steamboat Meat & Seafood Co., said the turkeys he sells are from Den­ver-based RedBird. They are no longer raised in the area, but it's a step.

The food baked at the deli/specialty food store is closer to Colorado roots, he said.

The fresh pies are made with apples from Palisade, and the sausage dressing is made with sausage produced at the Meat & Seafood store.

Aside from the local products, Hamil said his biggest tip was to buy a thermometer for the bird. Bringing the bird to a temperature as warm as 165 degrees, measured in the thickest part of the turkey, ensures healthy, tasty food. Hamil said some cookbooks recommend 180 degrees, but that's unnecessary.

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At The Drunken Onion Get & Go Kitchen, chef Coury Arm­­strong said he's keeping things pretty traditional for the Thanksgiving meal. He said there are a couple easy steps to take to make a better turkey, and today's not too late.

"I would suggest you brine your turkey for a couple hours, if possible," he said.

The turkey should be in a salt solution of about a half a cup of salt per gallon of water, enough to cover the turkey.

"You can put just the salt, or you could also put a little bit of sugar, peppercorn and bay leaves," he said.

Do that for four hours the day before cooking, then let the turkey dry overnight. He suggested keeping the bird in a garage — away from pets — or at least someplace that is between 30 and 40 degrees overnight.

After it's dried, you can also add sage, thyme and rosemary.

Armstrong said it's also important to break with the old notion of cooking the dressing inside the turkey as a stuffing.

"The stuffing will never really get to temperature, and it's much safer to cook the stuffing separately," he said, to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

And at the end, no matter how impatient you might be, Hamil said it's important to let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before digging in.