With Thanksgiving upon us, we caught up with Chef Orlando and asked him to share some cooking tips from his many years of preparing Thanksgiving dinner both in his home and at Veraisons. Perhaps you’re hosting and cooking for the first time or cooking for someone with an allergy; whatever it may be, we hope you find a takeaway or two below.
To brine or not to brine
Chef Orlando brines all of our turkeys at Veraisons to bring flavor and moisture in. He uses a saltwater solution with sugar, apples, sage, and peppercorns, but you could also rub salt on the outside of the turkey two days ahead of time and let it sit in an open air chilled environment or try the French way of rubbing butter and herbs under the skin and salting the outside.
How to make sure everything is ready on time
Do the math and plan ahead! It all depends on what time you’re serving and all you have to do is count back from there. Know what’s going in the stove, what’s going in the oven, and how much time everything requires. Be sure to leave resting time for the turkey so the juices have time to redistribute and it has time to finish cooking on the counter. It’s also helpful to set your serving dishes out ahead of time.
Staff Favorite Pairing:
Emily Edsall, Assistant Inn & Dining Room Manager
I love my sparkling wines. My family and I are appetizer people and our tradition is Baked Brie in puff pastry with walnuts and cranberries.
As you roast your turkey and the fat and juices are falling down into the pan, save some of the fat for the gravy. Take the fat and make your rue (fat and flour mixture), which will thicken your gravy and give it a base flavor of turkey. If you don’t have time to make a stock for your gravy ahead of time, you can still use the fat to add turkey flavor to store bought gravy.
Make sure your turkey is out for at least an hour at room temperature before it goes into the oven. Chef Orlando prefers to cook his turkey uncovered all the way through to get a beautiful golden color on the outside. Also, don’t be scared to pull your turkey out a little early around 150-155 degrees Fahrenheit and let it rest for a half hour. The temperature will rise about 10 more degrees and the juices will disperse back into the bird, resulting in a beautiful turkey that will be nice and moist, especially if you brine it. A good rule of thumb is a ½ pound or 1 pound per person to have enough for leftovers, etc.
Cook stuffing inside or outside
It’s all about personal preference. Chef Orlando’s preference is to cook it in a casserole dish to get a nice crispness on the outside. If you do cook the stuffing inside of the bird, be sure to remove it once the turkey is done, transfer it to a casserole dish, and continue cooking until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Staff Favorite Pairing:
Kerry Keller, General Manager
My favorite wine pairing for Thanksgiving is our Gewürztraminer. Gewürztraminer, in my opinion, compliments the many dishes on the table, from the turkey and stuffing to the green bean casserole.
Syrah, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer pair extremely well with turkey and all of the traditional accompaniments, but it’s really all about your personal preferences. If you like Chardonnay or something sweeter like our Cranberry Chablis, it will go well. Chef Orlando says you really can’t go wrong. It’s all about having a good time with your loved ones and a good rule of thumb for any celebration is to start with bubbles!
Cooking for a gluten allergy
Keep things separate while cooking! Follow the same recipes you normally would and replace any items with gluten with gluten free items or you can also find a variety of gluten free recipes online. Be sure to keep packaging of gluten free items for your guests. Follow this link for an easy gluten free Thanksgiving guide!
Staff Favorite Pairing:
Steve DiFrancesco, Winemaker
Dark meat turkey with Oak Free Cabernet Franc and Green Bean Casserole with Dry Riesling!
Prep! Prep! Prep!
If you have time to prep, do it! Since Thanksgiving is on Thursday, you could start on Tuesday by cutting your vegetables and making sure things are ready ahead of time. Bake your pies the day before. Make sure you have everything in your house that you need and cook what you know. Don’t go too far out of the ordinary for Thanksgiving and don’t feel ashamed to use packaged puff pastry or pie dough.
Best leftover meal
Chef Orlando loves making soup. He shared, “In my family, everyone loves soup and for some reason, I’m the one that gets stuck making it, but I enjoy it. I make a stock from the carcass and depending on what is leftover, I add it in. You also can never go wrong with turkey sandwiches.”
Staff Favorite Pairing:
Gene Pierce, Owner
Scalloped Oysters with Sauvignon Blanc
Mashed potato tips
Fresh is best! Peel the potatoes, salt the water, bring them to a boil and lower the heat until at a simmer. It’s important to bring them to a simmer because when you’re boiling, you’re essentially blasting the outside of the potato versus cooking the inside. Simmering is more gentle and allows them to cook through, making for a nice smooth potato by the time you get them mashed and milled. Some tips: add sour cream for a nice touch and unique flavor. Put some butter and maybe a touch of cream on the top before serving to keep the moisture in, or wrap it plastic and put it in a warming oven.
All of us here at Glenora would like to wish you and yours a wonderful, warm and Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for reading!
As we gear up for Buen Provecho (simple Spanish translation: “Bon Appetit”), our first wine pairing dinner of the Spring season this Saturday, we’re shining a light on Chef Orlando’s menu inspirations, as well as what led him to become a chef, which means going back to his roots to where his love of cooking began…in his grandmother’s kitchen.
Throughout his childhood, Orlando could usually be found in her kitchen during family gatherings. He would watch large family meals come to life, take in the delicious aromas and join in the familial kitchen banter that many of us know and love.
A Connecticut native with Dominican heritage, Orlando is constantly inspired by his upbringing and culture, both of which play an integral role in his cooking, and of course, bring back many fun memories…like fighting with his aunt over who gets the pig tail.
Read on for more…
What sparked your interest in cooking?
My interest in the kitchen started as a young child. I was told that I would go into the kitchen cabinets and take out pots and pans to play with. All the family would get together on the weekends and make a massive family meal and everyone would help out. I would always hang out in the kitchen and watch my grandmother and my aunts prepare food. I was always impressed by the fact that they would dice onions and peppers in the palm of their hands (not a safe method by the way) never cutting themselves. I loved the smell of the peppers, onions, and garlic on the stove cooking that would linger in the air as they cooked, even still to this day. There wasn’t much I didn’t eat; I remember having arguments with one of my aunts about who was going to eat the pig tail. At the end, we would always end up sharing when there would be a pig roast.
I started to cook at home at the age of 8, not sure if I was just being scammed into making sandwiches, grilled cheese, and omelets, but my sisters always said I made the best food. They still swear that it was the truth to this day. Honestly, I think they just still want me to cook for them.
Did your grandmother use ingredients or any special methods that you use in your cooking today?
My grandmother and my family members still use a mortar and pestle, which is used to grind up spices and herbs. I also use a wooden one at my home.
Do you have a favorite dish or recipe of your grandmother’s?
I had the honor of helping out my grandmother marinate a pig a few years ago for Christmas. I say it was an honor because my mother and aunts told me later that no one was ever allowed to help marinate a pig with Grandma Carmen so I should feel privileged, which I was. Yes, the mortar and pestle was used that day, and no, I will not let you in on her secrets.
One of my favorite dishes is Mondongo. It is stewed tripe soup. Whenever family comes to visit my grandmother goes out of her way to make some and send it to me.
Can you tell us about the traditional Dominican treat Morir Soñando?
It is a traditional drink made with orange juice, milk, sugar, and vanilla. The translation of the word is died and gone to heaven.
What dish are you most excited about on the menu for this weekend?
Well, it would have to be Mondongo, of course.
Written by Sous Chef Sarah Hassler of Veraisons Restaurant
Autumn in New York might be a romantic cliché, but it is truly a chef’s dream season in the Finger Lakes. Farmers from all over the region send me emails every day with lists of available produce. Yes, farmers market via e-mail, welcome to the future everyone. Squash, beans, brassicas, apples, pears, grapes, and still the summer produce winds in with tomatoes, corn, peppers, eggplant, and melons. It is bounty at its fullest.
At Veraisons we have always taken the time to prepare a special feast that celebrates the season. For years our annual Harvest Dinner has marked a time to honor our farmers and our winemakers, to toast the end of tourist season, and to wind down into the quiet of winter – like a late-night bowl of Mom’s soup before bed.
This year our Harvest Dinner falls on Halloween, an occasion that happens only once every seven years. Talk about adding special to already-celebratory! Orlando and I wracked our brains to come up with spooky ideas – at one point there was a chicken pot pie with a clawed foot sticking out of the crust as a potential idea, quickly vetoed, but nonetheless memorable. Finally, one of us said “Let’s just go all out and do Harry Potter.”. Neither of us spoke for a bit, wondering if it might be ridiculous, and after a moment’s silence, we pounced.
Images of bountiful feasts rolled into our heads. Having read all of the books several times over (especially the audio versions – total #jimdalefangirl), I know how strongly that imagery takes hold. A young boy coming from a cold home he doesn’t belong in finds himself at an enormous table, surrounded by friends and food…so much food! Rowling nailed the relationship between food and comfort, highlighting the intimacy of breaking bread with friends and finding joy that multiplies.
Think about your favorite food memories. I’m willing to bet that they rarely, if ever involve you eating alone, dining on something you made yourself. Most likely they revolve around family, or a longing for family (care packages from Mom while you were at college anyone?).
The equation so far:
Autumn harvest romance + deeply imbedded nostalgia + chefs = truly awesome dinner plans
So the idea was born – do a Hogwarts themed dinner, serving the food family style at communal tables. We plan to separate guests into houses and leave the platters for sharing and available seconds. We’ll serve Butter Beer and Polyjuice Potion and the dessert course will be nothing short of a child’s dream – treacle tart, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate frogs, ton-tongue toffee, and trifle. We’re leaving the rock-cakes at Hagrid’s hut for the night.
The books we read play a role in the direction of our lives. Harry Potter and his tales have long been in a thread in mine. Attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York felt very much like my own Hogwarts adventure – only with more food and less house elves. Click here for an article I wrote for their alumni magazine, Mise En Place, back in 2011 on the subject.
Whether the plan is to wind down the season and shake the hands of our farmers or to immerse yourselves in the world of magic (at least the of culinary sort), I hope to see you at our Great Harvest Feast this year!
Author Bio: Sarah Hassler is the Sous Chef of Veraisons Restaurant. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a native of the Finger Lakes region, Chef Hassler has a keen understanding of flavor and nuance and a reverence for the agricultural community, bringing local ingredients into her cooking as much as possible. She has been a member of the Glenora team, in between her time at CIA and professional experiences in the Hudson Valley and Corning, since 2009.
As we get closer to summer and local produce begins to arrive more steadily to Veraisons, Chefs Rodriguez and Hassler have set out on a mission to highlight the many wonderful farms who provide delicious and unique ingredients for their menus year in and year out. They work closely with more than a dozen farms and always pack their menus with local produce, meats and cheeses, typically called out on the menu by their farm name, however this season they’d like to let diners know a little bit more about the farms that make these menus possible.
To do so, they put their heads together and came up with a new method for daily dinner specials. Each evening or as ingredients are available, dinner specials will feature ingredients from a specific farm, as well as details about that farm.
Last week marked the first “Featured Farm” special menu and Lucky Dog Farm of Bradford, NY was in the spotlight, specifically their asparagus, which was the first to arrive at Veraisons’ backdoor this year. From late March to November, they also provide a steady supply of salad greens.
This week the focus shifts to Evergreen Farm in Rock Stream, NY, just down the road. As you might guess as its still early in the season, rhubarb is the focus of the special menu this week and it isn’t just limited to food. A new cocktail, the Rhubarb Cosmo, features Finger Lakes Distilling Vintner’s Vodka, house-made rhubarb simple syrup and a splash of Cointreau and lime juice. Thanks to rhubarb’s influx in early spring and the efforts of our chefs, this cocktail will be available all summer long and even into the fall. Evergreen Farm also provides a variety of ingredients during peak season like Romaine lettuce, baby carrots, heirloom tomatoes, and much more.
Take a peek at this week’s menu and consider joining us for an innovative, locally sourced meal! Strawberries have just started to roll in so chances are some delicious, summery specials are on the horizon.