HomeChristmas Dinner › Turkey Cooking Time

Figuring out the turkey cooking time is one of the tricky parts about planning a big turkey dinner. After all, you want to be eating at a reasonable time, and ideally the turkey will be completely cooked, but still nice and moist.

But there are a lot of things that affect how long it’ll take for your turkey to cook. In this article, we’ll go over the different factors that affect turkey roasting time. Then, we’ll give you a chart of the different cooking times for turkey.

Here we go!


What Affects Turkey Cook Time?

When it comes to cooking turkey, just knowing the turkey’s weight isn’t enough. There are a lot of different things that come into play when you’re trying to determine the cooking time for your turkey.

  • The size and weight of the turkey are obviously major factors. The heavier the turkey, the longer it’ll take to cook.
  • The oven’s temperature makes a difference, too. And lots of things affect the oven’s temperature: what setting it’s at, how often you open the door, and every oven has its own particular temperature fluctuations.
  • The moisture in the turkey affects how long it’ll take to cook. A brined turkey contains more moisture and so it cooks a bit faster.
  • A stuffed turkey takes a bit longer to cook than an unstuffed one. The stuffing absorbs some of the heat, and affects how the heat circulates inside the turkey. A stuffed turkey takes about 30 minutes longer to cook than an unstuffed one.
  • The turkey’s temperature when you place it in the oven is a factor, too. A turkey nearing room temperature will cook faster. A turkey that’s frozen can take up to 50% longer to cook.
  • Using a rack can speed up the cooking time. In fact, anything you do that helps there be more air flow around the turkey will make it cook faster.
  • The roasting pan you use affects the cooking time, too. Shiny pans deflect the heat away and can make the turkey roasting time longer than if you use a dark pan.
  • How you cook the turkey can make a difference. If you cook the turkey using a lid, it’ll cook faster. Using a tent foil slows down the cooking process and makes it take longer.

So what does all this mean? There are just so many factors that it’s impossible to tell how long it’ll take to cook a turkey. But what you can do is tell when it’s done. How? By using a meat thermometer.

Turkey is considered safe to eat when the white meat reaches 170F and dark meat reaches 180F. Since the turkey’s internal temperature will continue to rise 5-10 degrees after you take it out of the oven, you can tell when it’s time to take the turkey out of the oven when it’s at 165F-170F.

Turkey Cooking Time Chart

Still, if you’re planning a big turkey meal, it’s nice to have an approximate turkey cooking time so that you can plan dinner more easily. So here you go.

Just remember, it’s only an estimate. Keeping an eye on the turkey’s internal temperature is still the best way to get a perfectly cooked and juicy turkey. And it’s always a good idea to check up on the turkey 45 minutes or so before the chart says it’ll be done. You never know, and better safe than dry turkey.

Turkey Cooking Times For 325F

Turkey Weight Unstuffed Stuffed
10 to 14 lbs 3h00 to 3h30 3h30 to 4h00
14 to 18 lbs 3h30 to 4h15 4h00 to 4h45
18 to 22 lbs 4h15 to 4h30 4h45 to 5h00
22 to 26 lbs 4h30 to 5h00 5h00 to 5h30

And don’t forget, the turkey needs to rest outside the oven for about 30 minutes before you carve it.

  • The rest time allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat, giving you a juicier turkey.
  • It also makes the turkey easier to carve.
  • You can use this time to make the gravy, cook the potatoes and other side dishes you might have. That way everything’s ready at exactly the same time!

Well, that’s it for turkey cooking times. Remember, these are general guidelines to help you get an approximate time for dinner, but the real test is the meat thermometer.


HomeChristmas Dinner › How to Make Turkey Brine

turkey brine can be a great way to take some of the stress out of making a big turkey meal over the holidays. Why? Well, part of what makes cooking turkey so scary is being afraid that it won’t turn out right.

And a turkey brine is a big step in the “delicious turkey” direction.

If you’ve never brined anything before, I really recommend it. Until I tried it, I never realized what a difference brining a turkey makes — it makes the turkey juicier and so much more delicious.

Brining a turkey is exactly like brining chicken — it isn’t hard at all. But it does take a little bit more planning because turkey is usually a whole lot bigger than chicken!

In this article, I’ll tell you all about how to brine a turkey. First, I’ll go over what brining is and how it works. Then, I’ll talk about the reasons why you’ll want to brine turkey. Finally, I’ll show you how to brine a turkey, with lots of great tips to make it easier.


How Turkey Brine Works

Brining is one of those cooking techniques that seems to have been kind of forgotten. But it’s also one of those things that makes the difference between between a good meal and a great one.

And even though it means a little extra planning, it’s not hard at all, andthe results are so worth it.

So what is it? Well, brining a turkey just means soaking the turkey in a salted water. Of course, you need the right amount of salt, and you need to soak it for the right amount of time, but we’ll go over that in how to brine a turkey.

When you brine turkey, there’s a whole lot going on under the surface. Here’s what happens:

  • Diffusion is a process where particles go from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. For turkey brine, it means that the salt is going from the salty water to the turkey. Which means that you get a turkey that’s seasoned the whole way through, not just on the surface.
  • Osmosis is another neat process, where water goes from a wetter environment to a drier one. In this case, the water is going from the turkey brine to the turkey. Which means you get a moister turkey!
  • Now, the salt doesn’t just add flavor to the turkey. It also reacts with the protein molecules and makes them unravel. And that creates a shield against moisture loss. Again, you get moister turkey.
  • The salt is the key. When you add the right amount, it doesn’t make food salty — it enhances the food’s natural flavors!

And that’s how brining a turkey works. Science at its most delicious!

Why Brine A Turkey?

Now that we know a bit more about how turkey brine works, we can talk about why to brine turkey at all.

  • The first reason is flavor. The salt alone makes a huge difference. And you can add lots of other ingredients to your turkey brine to get a unique flavor.
  • The second reason is moisture. Turkey is a pretty lean meat, and the biggest complaint people have about it is that it can turn out kind of dry. But brining turkey fixes all that!


  • Now, there is a catch. Brining a turkey properly can take some time, and it can be kind of a pain to find space to store it while it’s brining.
    • Normally, that wouldn’t be such a big problem, but we usually make turkey around the holidays, when we’re already really busy.
    • If you follow the tips in the next section and plan ahead, you’ll be able to brine a turkey stress-free. And you’ll be one step closer to the best turkey you’ve ever made.
  • Some turkey you can buy are labeled “enhanced”. Usually that means that they’ve already been brined. And you know what? They’re usually thought of as the tastiest turkeys, like Kosher turkeys or Butterballs. But you can get the same results at home, or even better.
    • You should never brine a turkey that’s already been brined. If you do, you’ll end up with a turkey that much too salty. Generally, when people have a bad experience with brining, that’s why!

How To Brine A Turkey

Brining a turkey isn’t hard at all. The only thing that makes it harder than brining chicken is that a turkey is a lot bigger, and that means that it takes more time, and finding room for it isn’t always easy.

The secret is to plan ahead. Just figure out where you’re going to brine the turkey and when, and everything will be a lot smoother. And you’ll be able to make your turkey brine stress-free, and all you’ll have to do is savor the results!

To help you plan ahead, first we’ll go over what you need to brine turkey, and then we’ll talk about how to do it.

What You’ll Need To Brine Turkey

Here’s the equipment and ingredients you’ll need for your turkey brine:

  • A container to brine the turkey in. It needs to be big enough so that the turkey and brine can fit inside completely.
    • Generally, you want something not much wider than the turkey. That way you don’t need as much turkey brine.
    • You want to be sure that you pick a non-reactive container – it shouldn’t react to the salt or sugar. Food-grade plastic, stainless steel, enamel or glass are all great. Aluminum and copper are not — the metal can leech into the brine and ruin the taste.
    • The container will have to be kept cold, so it should fit in the fridge.Turkey Brine - Brining Container
    • If you don’t have room in the fridge, try a cooler. It’s the best brining container! Be sure to clean it out thoroughly before and after brining, and then stick the turkey and turkey brine right in there.
    • You can get extra large ziploc bags or special brining bags, and use those to line your container. Then you can either zip up the bag and take it out, or just leave the whole thing in the bucket.
  • You’ll need some cold water, too. You’ll need enough to completely cover your turkey.
    • You can figure out beforehand how much water you’ll need by placing your turkey in the brining container and then covering it with water. Then, take out the turkey and measure the water.
    • Generally, depending on the size and shape of your container, you’ll need about 1 to 2 quarts (or 1 to 2 liters) of water per 2 pounds of turkey. A snugger fit means you need less brine.
  • The main ingredient in a brine is salt.
    • You’ll need about 1/8 of a cup of table salt per quart (or liter) of water.
    • If you’re using a coarser salt, like kosher or a coarse sea salt, you should use 1/4 of a cup of salt per quart (liter) of water – you can’t fit as much coarse salt in a measuring cup because the crystals are bigger.
  • You can also use some sugar.
    • You can use about 1/8 of a cup of sugar per quart (liter) or water. Brown or white sugar both work.
    • Sugar helps counteract the salty taste. You’ll still get the enhanced flavor, but it won’t be as salty.
    • Sugar can also help the meat brown more easily. You’ll have to keep an eye out on the turkey to be sure it doesn’t brown too fast.
  • You can use any other seasonings you like in a brine.
    • Turkey Brine - SeasoningsThe best way to get the flavor in the brine is to boil the brine and seasonings together — just like tea.
    • Try orange or lemon slices, coriander or fennels seeds, whole peppercorns, fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary, chopped garlic, or bay leaves. Or any other seasonings that you think will go well with turkey!
  • You’ll also need a turkey!
    • The turkey should be completely thawed. Unfortunately, you can’t thaw a turkey while brining it, because the brine won’t be able to penetrate the frozen meat.

And that’s what you need. Just be sure that you have anything ready when you’re ready to make your turkey brine, and it’ll be a snap.

How To Brine A Turkey

Now that you know what you need, let’s go over how to make the turkey brine and actually brine the turkey.

  1. If you’re using seasonings other than salt, bring 2 quarts (2 liters) of water to a boil. Remove from the heat.
    • It’s very important that the turkey brine be cold to avoid bacteria growth. Heating up just part of the water will leech all the flavor out from the seasonings, but it’ll cool quickly when you mix it with the rest of the water.
  2. Add all the seasonings other than the salt and sugar to the hot water. Let them steep 5 to 10 minutes, and then pour it all into your brining container.
  3. Pour the rest of the cold water into the brining container.
  4. Turkey Brine - SaltAdd the salt and sugar (if any) and stir until all the crystals are dissolved.
  5. Make sure the brine is cold. It should be about 40F (4C).
    • You can add some ice packs to the brine or put it in the fridge to cool it down.
    • If you use ice packs, I recommend making your own with ziploc bags or plastic juice jugs filled with water. The commercial kind are supposed to be non-toxic, but even if they are, they’re full of chemicals. If they leak, at best they’ll ruin the taste of your turkey brine.
  6. Add the turkey to the brine.
    • The turkey should be completely submerged. If it’s floating, weigh it down with something heavy, like a ziploc bag full of ice — it’ll help keep it cool, too.
    • If you need to add a bit more water, just add a quart (liter) or so at a time. Be sure to add salt to the water before adding it to the brine.
    • If your container is too small to have the turkey completely submerged and you have no alternative, you can always flip the turkey over every few hours, but that’s not ideal.
  7. Let the turkey sit in the turkey brine for 1 hour per pound of turkey, up to 24 hours.
    • Be sure to keep the turkey brine cold. If you need, add homemade ice packs to keep it cool. Don’t add ice directly to the brine though, cause that would dilute it.
  8. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it thoroughly, and pat it dry with paper towels.
    • The point of brining is to get a bit of salt on the inside. But because the solution is so salty, you end up with a ton of salt on the outside, so it’s important to rinse it off.
  9. (Optional) If you like your turkey to get a crispy skin, let it air dry in the refrigerator for an hour or so before cooking it. Brining can leave the outside of the turkey a little too moist to brown, but air drying in the fridge takes care of that.


  • If you’re brining a turkey in the fridge, always store it on the lowest possible shelf. That way, if you happen to spill something, you won’t contaminate all the other food in your fridge.
  • Brining affects the turkey drippings and juices — they’ll be saltier. So you don’t really need to season with extra salt before cooking, or add any salt to your gravy. And if you’re stuffing the turkey, you may not want to add too much salt to the stuffing.
  • Be very careful to thoroughly wash any surface or container that comes into contact with the raw turkey or the turkey brine when it’s used. Raw turkey contains bacteria that can grow and make you sick if you’re not careful with it.

This method is super versatile, and lets you add lots of seasonings, but personally I prefer the simplest turkey brine of them all — just salt and water. There’s no fuss, no heating, and the turkey comes out wonderful.

But try different things out and see what you like best.

And that’s all you need to know about turkey brine! You’re one step closer to a perfectly moist, delicious turkey.

HomeCooking Chicken › Trussing ChickenIf you’re like me and you love roast chicken, you may want to learn how to truss chicken. Trussing chicken just means tying it up so that the legs and wings don’t flop all over the place.

Knowing how to truss chicken can be a big help in the kitchen. You can definitely get by without knowing how. But if you know how to truss a chicken, you suddenly have a bunch more cooking techniques available to you.

Trussed Chicken

For example, when I roast a chicken, I like to start it roasting breast side down and then flip it over during the last third of the cooking time – it keeps the breast nice and juicy. But flipping an untrussed chicken can be a bit of a disaster. Legs and wings, they’re just waiting to fall off!

Or a rotisserie chicken… trussing the bird is really important, or the wings and legs will burn before the rest of the chicken is cooked.

In this article, I’ll tell you all about trussing chicken. First, I’ll go over the various reasons why you would want to truss a chicken, as well as situations where you wouldn’t want to! Then, I’ll give a step-by-step instructions for trussing chicken.


Why Truss Chicken?

I like learning new cooking techniques. I think it’s a lot of fun. And I like using them when I know it’ll make a difference. But I’m not usually a fan of adding unnecessary steps when I’m cooking.

With practice, trussing a chicken doesn’t take all that long, but it’s still an extra step. So why do you want to do it?

Trussing: The Good

Well, here are a few good reasons to learn to truss chicken:

  • Because of the way the legs cover the breast when you truss chicken, the breast meat is protected from drying out and ends up a lot juicier.
  • For larger birds, trussing helps the meat cook more evenly, so that everything is ready at the same time. That means the whole chicken is just perfect!
  • Trussing the bird means that you don’t have any loose limbs flopping around. So, if you need to move the chicken around or flip it over, you won’t lose a leg or a wing.
  • A trussed chicken will keep its shape while cooking and it’ll just look a lot better. But it’s not just looks – it’ll be easier to carve, too!
  • If you want to use a rotisserie to cook the chicken, you need to truss it or the chicken will cook unevenly and the legs and wings will burn.

Trussing: The Bad

But, like anything, trussing isn’t perfect. There are a few downsides:

  • Trussing chicken causes the legs to cook a bit more slowly. On bigger birds, it’s a good thing, but on a smaller bird it could mean that the breasts will cook faster than the legs and end up dry.
  • When you truss chicken, less of the skin is exposed to the oven’s heat, which means that you’ll have a bit less crispy skin. Not a whole lot less, but if that’s your very favorite part, keep that in mind.
  • It’s an extra step. With practice, you won’t have any trouble trussing a chicken, but we’re all in a rush sometimes!

Trussing: The Bottom Line

Here’s my advice. If you have the time, go ahead and truss the chicken, unless it’s a very small bird of about 2 or 3 lbs. But there are a few situations where you really don’t need to. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If presentation isn’t an issue, for example if you’re going to carve the chicken before bringing it to the table, trussing is less of an issue.
  • If you’re going to slow cook the chicken, at 200F or 300F, the bird will cook evenly whether you truss it or not.
  • Don’t truss chicken for the very first time when you have 10 guests coming over and you only have an hour and a half to prepare and cook the chicken. It takes a bit of getting used to, so it’s best to practice a few times before trying it out when time is short. Remember, one of the keys to loving cooking is to not be stressed out when you do it!

How To Truss Chicken?

Okay! Now that you’ve decided that it’s worth taking the time to learn to truss chicken, you need to know how to do it!

A little tip before we get started: you may want to print out this page or have the instructions in front of you the first few times you do it. It’s pretty easy to forget what to do!

Alright, let’s get started. First, I’ll go over what you need to truss a chicken, and then I’ll show how to do it, step by step.

What You Need

First things first: the materials you need!

  • One piece of kitchen twine, about 3 or 4 times the length of the chicken.
    • Kitchen twine is a string made out of cotton or linen. Since it’ll be in contact with your food, it has to be non-toxic. It also needs to be heat-resistant, which is why certain synthetic materials like polyester just don’t work for kitchen twine.
  • One chicken! Any size chicken will do. And remember, trussing is the last thing you do when getting your chicken ready.
    • Trussing hides some of the skin, so get your seasonings on before you truss!
    • You won’t be able to stuff the chicken after you truss it, so be sure to do that first.

And that’s it!

How To Do It

Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to truss up that bird and get it ready to cook! Here’s how to truss a chicken:

Trussing Chicken - Step 1 Step 1

With the breast side up, line up the middle of your piece of twine with the chicken’s tail and tie a knot around the tail. You don’t actually need to knot it, but I find it makes the trussing a bit easier.

Trussing Chicken - Step 2 Step 2

Make a loop around each drumstick.

Trussing Chicken - Step 3 Step 3

Pull them close together and tie a knot. Again, the knot isn’t necessary but can make the whole trussing process easier, especially at first.

Trussing Chicken - Step 4 Step 4

Keeping the twine tight around the chicken, pass each half of the twine through the wing.

Trussing Chicken - Step 5 Step 5

Tuck the wings under the chicken so that they’re holding down the twine.

Trussing Chicken - Step 6 Step 6

Flip the chicken over so that it’s breast side down. Tie the twine around the neck so that it’s holding down the wings. Make sure the knot is secure, then cut off any excess string.

And now you have a nicely trussed chicken that will cook nice and evenly!

One more thing… there’s more than one way to truss a chicken! I presented this one because it works well for me, but everyone is different, and you should do what works best for you!

If you’d like to try a different technique, there’s a great video of Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats” on the Food Network’s website. He shows how to truss a turkey, which is pretty similar to trussing chicken, although because of the size difference his method won’t work as well on smaller birds.


HomeCooking Beef › TourtiereTourtiere is a French Canadian specialty, a delicious meat pie that’s usually served around Christmas. In our house, we had it for our Christmas Eve dinner, and for brunch on Christmas Day.

Of course, I’ve moved away now and I live in the USA, but I’ve kept up the tradition. And no matter who I make it for, it’s always a big hit.

There are lots of different ways of making tourtiere out there. You can use different meats, different cuts, even different spices. Quebec is a huge place, and each region has its own traditional recipe — which means there’s more than one right way to make it.

In this article, I’ll talk about how to make a tourtiere. First, I’ll go over the different types of tourtière out there. Then, I’ll go over the ingredients you’ll need. Finally I’ll talk about different ways to make a tourtière.


Different Types Of Tourtière

If you take twenty different people who eat tourtiere every year for Christmas, and ask them what the correcttraditional way of making it is, you’ll probably get twenty different answers.

And the truth is, they’ll probably all be right. There are lots of different regions in Quebec, and each has its own traditions and its own way of making tourtiere.

And there are even places outside Quebec that have their own traditions — French speaking areas of Canada, and some of the north-eastern regions of the United States.

There’s no way I could list all the different recipes and types of meat pie. But most pies do fall into one of two categories: a simple pork or beef round pie, the simple tourtière, or the more elaborate tourtière du Lac St-Jean, a huge pie that includes lots of different types of cubed meats.

Simple Tourtiere

This is the Christmas meat pie that I grew up with. Which I guess is lucky for me, because it’s a whole lot easier to make!

  • It’s a standard round pie. It can be deep-dish or not, depending on whether you prefer a meatier pie or not, but it’s still got a good crust-to-pie ratio.
  • It’s usually made up of ground meat or finely chopped meat.
  • It’s usually made from pork. It can also be made with beef, or a combination of the two.
  • It can include potatoes, either mashed to thicken the filling, or cubed to add a little texture.

Generally, you make this pie by cooking the meat and potatoes in some water, wine or stock, and add a few special spices. You can either use the mixture right away to fill the pie, or let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Tourtiere du Lac St-Jean

A tourtiere du Lac St-Jean (which gets its name from the Lac St-Jean region in Quebec) is a more elaborate dish. I got to enjoy it every few Christmases when we got together with my Aunt on my mom’s side.

How is different from the simple tourtiere?

  • It’s made with cubes of meat instead of ground meat. The cubes can be big or small, but they should be big enough to give some texture, and small enough that you can fit a few in one mouthful.
  • Often, it’ll have lots of different types of meat. Pork is usually an ingredient, but you’ll likely find several other types of meat. It could be beef or chicken, or game meats like rabbits or venison.
  • You can make this meat pie with potatoes, too, but they’re almost always cubed – not mashed.
  • Because you have so many ingredients, this is often a much bigger pie. You might line a whole roasting pan with pastry dough, then fill it with layers of meat and potatoes, and then top with another pastry crust.
  • It takes lot longer to cook this meat pie! A simple tourtiere might only need 45 minutes in the oven, but this one will take more like 6 hours. Of course, that means six hours of awesome smells in the house!

The meat can be cooked beforehand, or it can cook while the pie is baking. Both methods work well. But it’s a good idea to let the meat and spices sit together overnight, so that the flavors really have time to blend.


  • Lac St-Jean actually means St-John’s Lake, if you’re curious for a translation.
  • In case you’re wondering, tourtière is pronounced “TOURT-YAIR
    • Tourt” is like “tour” in “tour bus” but with a “t” at the end.
    • Yair” is like the air we breathe, but starting with a “y”.
  • The most common way to eat a tourtiere is with ketchup. Some people like a homemade salsa-like sweet-and-sour ketchup, but others like the commercial kind. My dad and I like it with gravy. We always teased that it was because we’re both English-speaking heathens, whereas my mom and brother are more French-speaking – and they like it the traditional way.


When I say tourtiere is a meat pie, I’m not kidding. The ingredient list is pretty simple, and it’s mostly meat! So what do you need?


I think it goes without saying, meat is the main ingredient in this meat pie.

  • For a simple tourtiere, you’d use ground pork, or possibly ground beef or a combination of both.
  • If you want to make a tourtiere du Lac St-Jean, you’ll need a lot more meat.
    • Depending on how big you want the pie to be, you’ll need anywhere from 4 to 8 pounds of different meats, raw or cooked.
    • Cut the meat up into little cubes, and you’re ready to go. The cubes should be about half an inch to an inch in size.


A tourtiere usually has potatoes in it, too.

  • No matter what type of meat pie you make, you can include cubed potatoes. They should be about half an inch cubes.
    • Tourtiere - Adding PotatoesFor the simple pie, you’ll probably want to cook them beforehand. In the Lac St-Jean pie, they’ll have plenty of time to cook while the meat is cooking.
  • A simple tourtiere should include some mashed potatoes, too. It’ll help the meat hold together better, so that the pie won’t be so crumbly.


You’ll also need some liquid for the meat pie.

  • For a Lac St-Jean tourtiere, the liquid is absolutely essential. It braises the meat, keeping it moist and helping it get tender while it cooks.
  • For a simple pie, the liquid keeps the meat moist while it simmers with the spices, and it helps the flavor of the spices penetrate the meat.
  • Stock is a great choice for a liquid, but you can also use water. You can also use some wine or cognac for part of the liquid.


For extra flavor, you’ll want to add some aromatics to the mix.

  • Tourtiere - Onions and GarlicOnion is the most important aromatic. You need about 1 onion per pound or two of meat. You can adjust that depending on how much you like onions.
  • A little bit of garlic is never a bad thing. I add a clove or two to a simple tourtiere.
  • If you’re making a tourtiere du Lac St-Jean, you can add some chopped celery or carrots. The little pieces will be good with the meat cubes.


Tourtiere - SeasoningsTo me, the seasonings are super important. They’re what give tourtiere its unique taste. And they’re a testimony to just how old a tradition this meat pie is.

Some spices like cinnamon and cloves might seem a little odd in meat, but they were very typical in the Middle-Ages, and people have probably been making tourtiere since then!

Here are the seasonings you’ll usually find in a tourtiere:

  • Some pies really on the natural flavors of the meat and only use salt and pepper.
  • Some pies use a combination of cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Usually these are simple tourtieres, but you could spice either of the pies this way.
  • Some pies use herbs like thyme and savory. These seasonings are more common for a tourtiere du Lac- St-Jean, but can be in either.

Pastry Crust

The last ingredient that you’ll need for your meat pie is the pastry crust. It’s just an ordinary pie crust.

For some people, it’s absolutely essential that the crust be homemade, with lard instead of shortening. And you’ll probably get tastier results that way. But if you don’t have time, or you just don’t like making pie crusts, you can always buy a premade crust.

  • For a simple tourtiere, a recipe for a double-crust deep dish pie is all you need.
  • A tourtiere du Lac St-Jean needs a whole lot more pie crust. You’ll need anywhere from 2 to 4 double crust pie recipes, depending on how big your roasting pan is.

And that’s what you need to make this delicious meat pie. Now let’s find out how to make it!

How To Make Tourtière

The way you make a tourtiere is pretty different depending on which type you’re making. So I’ve split this section into two parts — the simple tourtière, and the tourtière du Lac St-Jean.

How To Make A Simple Tourtiere

Here’s how you make a simple meat pie.

  1. First, gather all your ingredients.
  2. In large pan over medium heat, saute your aromatics for a few minutes.
  3. Add the meat, liquid, and spices, and mix well, breaking up the ground meat. Let the mixture simmer for an hour, until it’s starting to get thick.
  4. Meanwhile, bake the potato.
    • You can bake it in an oven set to 400F for 45 minutes or so, or you can bake it in the microwave for 6 to 8 minutes, turning it over half-way.
  5. Mash the potato, and add it to the meat, blending it in well until the meat is thick and isn’t crumbly.
  6. Tourtiere - Uncooked Meat PieFill a pie crust with the meat mixture. Cover with a second pie crust, seal the edges and cut slits in the top crust to vent steam.
  7. Bake in an oven preheated to 375F for about 45 mins, or until the crust is golden brown.
    • Remember, the filling is cooked, so you’re just cooking the crust here. Take the pie out when it has the right color.
    • To get the crust to brown more nicely, you can brush it with an egg wash or a bit of milk.
  8. Let the pie sit for about 10 minutes before cutting it. The filling needs time to set and cool down.

It might seem like this takes a while to make. But actually it doesn’t involve a whole lot of work. The longest part is just waiting for it to cook.

Tourtiere Du Lac St-Jean

This meat pie is a little more work- and time-intensive than the simple pie. But it really does give outstanding results, and the whole house will smell good for hours. And once this becomes a family tradition, that smell will mean Christmas to you.

Here’s how you do it.

  1. Gather all your ingredients.
  2. Cut all the meat into little cubes.
  3. Add the spices to the meat and mix well.
    • For extra flavor, try refrigerating the mixture for at least 4 hours, overnight if possible. It’ll give the flavors time to blend.
  4. Cut up the potatoes into little cubes, about the same size as the meat.
  5. Chop the aromatics, and mix them in the meat.
  6. Line a roasting pan with pastry dough.
  7. Add the meat and potatoes.
  8. Add the liquids, and cover the whole thing with more pastry dough. Cut slits in the top crust to vent steam.
  9. Cover the roasting pan, and bake the pie in a oven preheated to 250F for about 6 hours.
    • This long, slow, covered cooking braises the meat. It turns tougher cuts into lovely, tender pieces.
    • If you’re starting with cooked meat already, you can reduce the cooking time by a lot. You really only need to cook the potatoes, so an hour or two should do it.
  10. If the crust isn’t browned by the last half hour, remove the cover and increase the heat to 400F and cook until the crust is a beautiful golden brown.
  11. Let the pie set for at least 10 to 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

As you can see, this meat pie takes a lot longer to cook. And cutting 4 to 8 pounds of meat into cubes means a lot of work, too, unless you can find a butcher to do it for you. But it’s all a part of the Christmas tradition, and the smell in the house will make up for it all.


  • A simple tourtiere is super easy to make. You can even make it ahead of time. Before cooking it, wrap it well and store it in the freezer. Then just take it out a few hours before you need it and let it defrost. Cook as indicated in the instructions.
  • A tourtiere du Lac St-Jean is a lot more work. If it’s your first time making it, be sure to plan ahead very carefully, so that you don’t end up stressed out on the holidays!
  • This is an old, traditional dish — and traditionally it wasn’t made with lean meats at all. If you have lean meats but you want to make it the way it used to be, you can add a bit of lard to the mix to fatten it up. No, it’s not really meant as a healthy dish!

And that’s how you make a delicious tourtiere! I hope you like this Christmas tradition as much as I do.

HomeDessert Recipes › Tempering ChocolateOne cooking technique that I’ve come to love is tempering chocolate. There’s nothing I enjoy making more than desserts, and knowing how to temper chocolate opens up a whole world of beautiful sweet creations.

So what exactly is tempering chocolate? Well, it just means specially treating melted chocolate so that it dries to a hard, shiny finish – so you get chocolate that doesn’t melt at room temperature, breaks with a nice snap instead of crumbling apart, and is perfect for coating candies.

The first time I tried coating a dessert with chocolate, I coated the tops of sugar cookies. I just melted chocolate, dipped the cookies, and let it set. Well, the chocolate stayed soft, and the cookies were kind of sticky and messy.

They were still delicious, but that kind of coating just wouldn’t cut it for something like truffles. You need a hard coating for truffles, because you’ll be touching the chocolate when you eat it. Plus a nice shiny truffle looks perfectly beautiful!

Tempering chocolate isn’t hard to do, but it is a bit of a delicate procedure. And underneath it all there’s some complex but very cool scientific processes at work. And in this article, we’ll go over it all. First, I’ll talk about what happens to the chocolate when you melt and temper it, and then I’ll go over what you need to temper chocolate, and how to do it.


How Tempering Chocolate Works

Just about everyone loves chocolate. The smooth texture and awesome rich taste are hard to resist. But it’s so easy to get chocolate that we tend to take for granted what goes into getting that texture: tempering chocolate.

Chocolate has a special structure, and to get the nice hard chocolate we love, you have to handle it very precisely.

Different Kinds Of Crystals

Chocolate is actually made up of a bunch of little crystals. And the size of those crystals are what give the chocolate its texture!

  • Big crystals give a soft, crumbly chocolate that melts really easily.
  • Medium crystals also give a melty chocolate, but it’s a bit more firm.
  • Small crystals are the perfect size. They give you hard, shiny chocolate that doesn’t melt until you’re eating it, and that breaks into pieces with a satisfying snap.

The chocolate we buy is generally tempered chocolate, nice and hard with the right crystal structure. But if you want to use that chocolate to coat something, you have to melt it. And that destroys all the crystals, and you have to create new ones. That’s the tricky part!

Forming Chocolate Crystals

Once chocolate is melted, you need to recreate the crystal structure. The way you do it is by stirring the melted chocolate. The agitation causes little crystal seeds to form, and those seeds grow into the actual crystals. And here’s the key – the size of the crystals is determined by the temperature of the chocolate when the seeds form.

  • If the temperature is too low, between 60F and 80F (17C and 27C), you get the big crystals and your chocolate won’t be good for coating.
  • If the crystal seeds form at about 93F (34C), you’ll get perfect, small crystals, and your chocolate will dry hard and shiny.
  • Any hotter than 97F (36C), and it’ll be too hot for crystal seeds to form.

So here’s what you have to do when tempering chocolate – we’ll go over the actual methods in more detail in the how to temper chocolate section.

  1. Melt the chocolate and get it hot enough to melt all the crystals in it. It’ll need to reach about 110F to 115F (about 45C).
  2. Cool the chocolate to about 82F (28C). Stir it and agitate it to help the right crystal seeds to form. This will make sure you only get smallish sized crystals.
  3. Heat the chocolate back up to about 90F (32C). It’ll get rid of any bigger crystals that might have formed. It’ll also make the chocolate a bit easier to work with, especially if you’re using it to coat something.
  4. Now, maintain that temperature while you’re using the chocolate. If you let it heat up too much, you’ll melt the crystals and have to start over again, but if you let it cool too much it’ll get hard to work with.

It might all seem a little complicated to worry about crystals and crystal seeds – but knowing why you need to heat and cool and heat again really helps the process of tempering chocolate make so much more sense. For me, knowing about all this made me feel a lot more confident about it!

And remember, none of this is hard to do. It’s just melting chocolate and watching a thermometer. But knowing why you’re doing it makes it easier to understand what happened if something goes wrong.

What You’ll Need

One of the nice things about tempering chocolate is that you don’t need a whole lot of fancy equipment to do it. Here’s what you do need.


The best way to melt chocolate is the low, indirect heat of a double-boiler.

  • If you don’t have a double-boiler, you can use a stainless steel bowl over a pot of water. The bowl should completely cover the pot, to keep the heat in and prevent any moisture from getting into the chocolate. Moisture could make your chocolate seize up and then it wouldn’t be any good for tempering.
  • If you don’t have a double-boiler or anything that can act as one, you can melt the chocolate in a pot directly over the heat, but you have to be very careful. Direct heat can make the chocolate scorch.

Rubber Spatula

rubber spatula is the best option for mixing the chocolate because you can make sure it’s perfectly dry before putting it in the chocolate, and it lets you scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure nothing is scorching and everything is heated evenly.


It’s really important to keep track of the temperature when you’re tempering chocolate. It’s a very precise process, and it’s not easy telling the different between 85F and 90F without a good thermometer. And if you don’t get it just right, it can completely ruin the temper. The best option is a good, accurate instant-read thermometer.


Chocolate. You need a good quality chocolate to melt. Be sure that it contains cocoa butter and not some substitute, otherwise you can’t temper it.

  • Chocolate chips are your best options. They’re small and uniformly sized, so that they melt quickly and evenly.
  • If you have bigger chunks of chocolate, chop them up into small chip-sized pieces.
  • Tempering chocolate is easier the more chocolate you have to work with. It helps the temperature stay more stable and gives you a little more margin for error.

Those are the basics. There are a few methods for tempering chocolate, though. For the simplest method, all you need is the basics. But if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also use the more traditional method, which needs a large, heat-absorbing surface like a marble slab or granite counter-top.

How To Temper Chocolate

Alright, we’ve gone over how tempering chocolate works, and what you need, and now it’s time to find out how to do it. I’ll go over two different methods here – the seed chocolate method, and the marble slab method.

Method 1: Seed Chocolate

This method is definitely the easier of the two. First of all, it doesn’t need any special equipment. But it also lets you make nicely tempered chocolate even if you don’t have years of experience looking for when the chocolate has just the right consistency.

So here’s how it goes. Remember, when you’re tempering chocolate, the key is to form little crystal seeds so that they can grow into the perfect chocolate crystals. But the chocolate we buy is generally already tempered and full of the right crystals and seeds. So we’re going to use that to our advantage.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Take the chocolate and chop it up into small, chocolate chip sized bits. Set about one third of the chocolate aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then remove it from the heat. Put the chocolate in the double boiler on top of the pot.
    • Be sure that the top pot doesn’t touch the water. Melting chocolate works best with indirect heat.
    • Make sure that the top pot completely covers the bottom pot. You don’t want steam escaping, because any moisture can make your chocolate seize up.
  3. Stir the chocolate occasionally until it’s melted and smooth, and reaches 110F to 115F, or about 45C. Remove it from the heat.
  4. Stir in the remaining one third of chopped chocolate, and keep stirring until the chocolate reaches about 80F to 82F (about 27C).
  5. Over the double-boiler, heat the chocolate back up to 88F to 90F (about 32C). This will make the chocolate easier to work with, and it’ll get rid of any of the bigger crystals that might have formed.


  • This method takes advantage of the fact that you’re using already tempered chocolate. That means you need a good quality chocolate that contains cocoa butter, not additives or substitutes.

Method 2: Marble Slab

The second method for tempering chocolate is a little messier, and it takes a little more experience to get it just right.

For this one, you’ll need a marble slab, or any other big surface that’ll help your chocolate cool down quickly. This’ll let you cool the chocolate to the right temperature to create the right crystals seeds.

Here’s how you do it.

  1. Chop your chocolate into chocolate chip-sized bits. It’s not necessary, but it helps the chocolate heat and melt more evenly.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove it from the heat. Place all your chopped chocolate in a double boiler on top of the hot water.
    • Be sure the pot doesn’t touch the water. You want the heat to be low and indirect so that the chocolate doesn’t scorch.
    • Be sure that no steam is escaping from the bottom pot. Any moisture in the chocolate could make it seize up and ruin the tempering process.
  3. Stir the chocolate occasionally, until it’s all melted and smooth. Let it reach 110F to 115F (45C) to make sure crystals are all melted.
  4. Pour two thirds of the chocolate onto the marble slab, and scrape and stir the chocolate over the surface. This will cool the chocolate down. Keep doing this until the chocolate reaches 80F to 82F (about 27C), and is starting to become kind of sludgy. The sludginess means crystal seeds have started to form.
  5. Return the cooled chocolate to the pot with the rest of the chocolate, and heat it gently until it reaches 88F to 90F (about 32C). Keep the chocolate at this temperature while you work with it.


  • Even with a thermometer, knowing just when the chocolate is at the right temperature and consistency takes some experience. But with practice, you can do it.
  • The good thing about this method for tempering chocolate is that if you don’t get the temper right, you can just start over. Just heat the chocolate back up to 110F, and start over. Since you don’t need any unmelted chocolate, there’s no problem!

And that’s how to temper chocolate. If it’s done right, you’ll get beautifully coated truffles, wonderful chocolate-dipped strawberries, or be able to trace pretty chocolate designs on wax paper and then peel them off for decorations.

And don’t worry if it’s not quite right, especially the first time. When I started tempering chocolate, I made lots of mistakes. Sometimes it didn’t ever really become firm, and sometimes the chocolate got nice and hard but was streaky and discolored.

But neither of those things affected the taste. The treats may not have looked as nice but they were still delicious! So don’t worry. Even if it’s not quite right the first time, it’ll still be lots of fun, and very delicious!


  • To test if your chocolate is properly tempered, dip the tip of a clean, dry knife into the chocolate, and let it dry. It should be firm after a few minutes. If it’s not, and it’s still sticky, you’ll need to start over.
  • If any moisture gets into the chocolate, it’ll seize and get hard and lumpy. At this point, the only thing you can do is add more liquid like milk or cream to smooth it out. It won’t be any good for coating, but you can make a delicious chocolate fondue!
HomeDessert Recipes › Sugar Cookie IcingOne of the best parts about making sugar cookies is decorating them, and this sugar cookie icing recipe is the best way to do it. Sugar cookies taste great on their own, but a little bit of icing can make them look as awesome as they taste.

This sugar cookie icing recipe is so easy to make and use, and it looks so professional! The first time I used it, I made Easter sugar cookies using one of my easy sugar cookies recipes, shaped liked chicks, bunnies, butterflies and flowers… They almost came out too pretty to eat!

Decorating sugar cookies does take time though. This icing is incredibly easy to work with, and you can make it thicker or thinner depending on what you need. But be sure that you’re ready to take a while to decorate the cookies — that way you won’t feel rushed or stressed and you’ll be able to really appreciate the fun.

And here it is!


Sugar Cookie Icing

Preparation Time: 10m     Cooking Time: 0m     Total Time: 10m


Yields 1/3 cup icing.


1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp milk
2 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
food coloring



  1. In a small bowl, mix the icing sugar, 2 tsp milk and 2 tsp corn syrup together. Add the vanilla extract and stir until smooth and glossy.
  2. If the icing is too thick, you can stir in more corn syrup or milk.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring and mix until the color is even.




  • This icing hardens fast, so you have to keep it covered whenever you’re not using it.
  • When you’re decorating cookies, you want to let one color set before you add another, otherwise the new color will just sink in the old one.
  • Depending on what you’re doing with the icing, you’ll want it thicker or thinner. Just add milk or corn syrup to get it just right!
    • Thinner icing works best for filling in large areas.
    • Thicker icing is great for adding in details with a small, clean paintbrush, or piping bag.
  • Instead of vanilla extract, you can use all sorts of different extracts, like almond or orange. I’ve made this icing with lemon extract and it was a huge hit.
  • If you want bolder colors, try using gel food coloring. You can always get them in the food decorating section of an arts and crafts store, or sometimes just in the grocery store.
HomeCooking Vegetables › Steamed CarrotsSteaming is a wonderful way to enjoy carrots. Steamed carrots keep a lot of their natural, delicious flavor, without all the nutrient loss you get from other cooking methods, like boiling.

And on top of keeping their natural sweetness, it’s also easy to add a little something to steamed carrots once they’re cooked. Butter, sautéed garlic, a zesty citrus sauce… there’s lots you can do with these tasty veggies.

In this article, I’ll go over the preparation steps, and how to steam carrots.


Preparation Steps

One of the great things about steamed carrots is that there’s not a whole lot of preparation work involved. It’s a great side dish because it hardly takes any time, and you can focus on the rest of the meal, or cleaning up. Here’s what you need to do.


No matter what vegetable you’re cooking, it’s a good idea to wash it, and carrots are no exception. Depending on how they’re grown and packaged, they might still have pesticides or dirt on them, neither of which you want to eat.

To clean carrots, just scrub them gently under lukewarm water, being sure to get all the dirt out.

Peel (Optional)

If you like, you can also peel the carrots. It’s usually better not to, though – the carrot’s surface has a lot of nutrients and flavor, and if you peel it, it might just not be as tasty. But if you really want to peel the carrots, just be sure to use a vegetable peeler. It’ll peel the smallest layer possible. And be sure to peel only a single layer off the carrots.


One of the great thing about steaming carrots is that you can cut them any way you want. You can steam whole baby carrots, or cut larger carrots into smaller chunks or slices. It really doesn’t matter!

  • Boiled carrots lose more nutrients the more surface area is exposed, so it’s important not to cut them too much before boiling. But steamed carrots don’t lose nutrients and flavor that way, so you can cut them as small as you like.
  • Roasted carrots caramelize more the more surface area is exposed, so they’re tastier when cut up. But you don’t need to worry about that with steamed carrots!

The only thing it really affects is how long it takes to cook – smaller carrot chunks will cook faster. So the best way to do it is to cut your carrots down to the size you want to serve them, and then steam them.

How To Steam Carrots

Once your carrots are washed and cut up, you’re ready for the next step – steaming the carrots. If you have a steamer, you can just use that. I’ll go over the instructions for steaming over a pot of water. It’s basically the same thing in a different appliance!

Here what you do.

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. You only need about an inch or two of water, enough to create steam.
  2. Place the carrots in a steaming basket, and place the basket over the water.
  3. Steam the carrots until they’re done. You can cover them, but leave a little vent for some steam to escape, to avoid it building up too much. It’ll take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your carrot pieces.
    • Check the water level every so often. Add more if it gets too low.
    • You can test the carrots for doneness by sticking a fork in them. It should slide in easily enough. Or just taste a piece.
  4. If you like, sauté some garlic in a bit of butter and oil, maybe with a few herbs and spices or some honey or sugar, and toss the carrots in the mixture. It’ll give a bit of extra flavor, for something a little different.

Remember, the carrots are done when they’re as crisp or as soft as you like them. Test them regularly, and take them out when they’re right for you. Generally, they’re considered “good” when they’re still a bit crisp, but if you prefer them soft, that’s what you should do.

And that’s all there is to making steamed carrots! Simple, delicious, and great for you. Enjoy!

› Steamed Asparagus

If you’re looking for a quick and easy vegetable to make for dinner, steamed asparagus is a great choice. Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables.

It has such a delicious, distinct flavor. It’s also one of the few foods that it’s considered polite to eat with your hands, and for some reason I get a kick out of that!

There are lots of different delicious ways to prepare asparagus: roasted, sautéed, boiled… Each method has its own advantages. Steamed asparagus is nice because it keeps a lot of its nutrients, and keeps the pure, fresh asparagus taste. And it’s really easy to cook it just as tender as you like it.

And it’s so easy to do! In this article, I’ll show you how to steam asparagus. First, I’ll go over the preparation steps. Then, I’ll talk about three different ways to steam asparagus.

Preparation Steps

Before we look at how to steam asparagus, there a few preparation steps we need to look at.

Asparagus is one of the easiest vegetables to prepare, but if you don’t do it right, you can end up with tough, woody vegetables, and that’s not really all that great.

So here’s what you need to do: choose the right asparaguswash them carefully, and trim them properly.


The first step towards making delicious steamed asparagus is knowing how to choose a nice bunch. Here are a few things to look for when you’re selecting some asparagus.

  • Young and tender! The older asparagus gets, the woodier it gets, and it loses a lot of its appeal. Look for firm, fresh asparagus with closed, compact tips. The stem shouldn’t be limp and the tip shouldn’t be soggy.

  • Thick or thin? If you go to the store, you’ll notice that sometimes they have very thick asparagus spears, and other times they’re pencil thin. Which are better? The truth is, neither really is.

    • Thicker doesn’t mean older! How thick asparagus gets depends on the plant, not on how long it grows, so you can have very young and tender spears that are quite thick.

    • Thicker spears can be a bit more tender, but different dishes will be better with different sizes of asparagus. It’s more of a texture and personal preference thing.

    • For example, I like to make ham-wrapped asparagus with thin spears, wrapping 5 or 6 spears in a thin slice of ham. I find a lot of little spears gives a better texture.

In the end, the type of asparagus you should choose depends a lot on your personal preference. As long as they’re firm and fresh and not too old, you’re in for a delicious treat!


Before making steamed asparagus and eating it, it’s a good idea to wash the asparagus. It helps get rid of any dirt and chemicals that might still be on it. There are a few ways to do it:

  • Gently rub the asparagus under lukewarm water to get all the dirt off. If you have fresh, young asparagus, the tip won’t be too fragile, but you still want to be careful.
  • Place the asparagus in a bowl of lukewarm water and rub the spears gently. You want to get the dirt off without damaging the spears. Don’t leave the spears in there too long or they can get waterlogged!

Lukewarm water is usually best to wash vegetables. It’s better at getting off dirt and chemicals than cold water.


Once the asparagus is washed, you can trim it. Or you can do it the other way around, but I prefer to wash before I trim. That way, I can use the parts I trim off for vegetable stock.

So why do you need to trim asparagus? Well, the base can be tough and woody, and it’s really not that enjoyable to eat. Very fibrous. So when you trim asparagus, you just remove the old, woody part, and keep the delicious tender part, for even better steamed asparagus!

There are two ways to do it.

  • You can cut an inch or so off the base of each spear, using a sharp knife.
  • You can snap off the ends by hand. With one hand, hold the asparagus spear by its middle. With the other hand, bend the base until it snaps off.

I prefer the second method. The asparagus will naturally break off where it stops being woody and tough, so you’re removing pretty much the exact amount you need from each spear. It tends to take off more than just cutting though, so it can seem more wasteful, unless you plan on using the trimmed bits for a stock.

If you like, you can also peel the base off of thicker asparagus spears, if they’re especially woody. It helps you get to the more tender inside. It can also make the asparagus more evenly thick, so that it cooks more evenly.


  • The longer you keep asparagus, the tougher it gets, because the sugars in it turn into starch. So if you’ve had asparagus in the fridge for a while, you can expect to trim off quite a bit more than if you just bought the asparagus.
  • You can use the bits you trimmed or peeled off for vegetable stock. You can save them in the freezer and boil them with a bunch of other vegetables, or you can boil them right away in some water, and save the cooking water.
  • If your asparagus isn’t so fresh anymore and is kind of limp, snapping off the ends won’t work so well. If that’s the case, you can just cut them off with a knife. It’s always best to use fresh asparagus though, but sometimes we just don’t use up our vegetables when we thought we would!

And that’s all there is to the preparation. It takes about 3 minutes to do, and then you’re ready to make steamed asparagus.

How To Steam Asparagus

There are a few different ways of making steamed asparagus. Which one you pick will depend on a few different things, like what equipment you have available and how thick your asparagus is. In this section, we’ll go over three different ways of steaming asparagus, plus some extra tips.

Steamer or Steaming Basket

When I think of steaming vegetables, this is what I have in mind. All you need for steamed asparagus is a plain old steamer, or a pot of water and a steaming basket (a heat-resistant basket that’ll hold the asparagus but let steam through). It’s the traditional way, and it works great.

I’ll go over how to do it with a pot of water and a steaming basket. If you have a steamer, it’s basically the same thing except you don’t have to worry about the water level and things like that.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. You don’t need much water, only an inch or two at the bottom of the pot. You just need enough to create steam, and enough that it won’t completely boil off while you steam the vegetables.

  2. Place the asparagus in a steaming basket. Place the basket over the water.

  3. Cover the asparagus, and let it steam until it’s cooked to your liking. It’ll take 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how thick the asparagus is and how tender you like it.

    • You can leave a little vent for steam to escape. It can help the asparagus keep its bright green color. Trapping the steam inside can sometimes cause the asparagus to turn olive green.

    • Test a piece every so often to check if it’s done. You can poke it with a fork, or just have a little bite (I prefer to taste – I’m usually pretty hungry when I cook!)

    • Keep an eye on the water level. If it gets low, add a bit more water so the pot doesn’t run dry.

  4. Serve the steamed asparagus, and enjoy!

And that’s how to make steamed asparagus in a steaming basket. What could be easier?

Upright Steamed Asparagus

Steamed Asparagus - Upright Bundle

This method is kind of special, and very specific to asparagus.

The thing about asparagus is that the tips tend to cook faster than the base. This happens for two reasons. First of all, they’re just more tender and need less cooking time. But the tips are often thinner than the base – and thinner vegetables need less cooking time.

What this means is that the tips can get overdone by the time the base is cooked. For me, it’s not much of a problem because I prefer my vegetables more tender than not. But if you like them a bit crisp, and you have thick asparagus, this method might give you steamed asparagus that you’ll enjoy quite a bit more.

They do sell some pots specifically made to steam asparagus upright, but all you really need is a tall, narrow pot.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Tie the asparagus into little bundles with kitchen twine. You don’t want them so big that the asparagus is tightly packed, but you do want the bundle to be able to stand upright.

  2. Bring an inch or so of water to a boil in a tall, narrow pot.

    • You can add some flavoring to the water, especially if the base of the asparagus will be immersed. Try garlic, lemon wedges, salt, or any herbs you like.

  3. Place the asparagus bundles in the water, upright, tips up.

    • If you have a little basket or grate that’ll keep the asparagus out of the water, you can go ahead and use it. But if you don’t, it’s not a big deal – most of the asparagus will be out of the water so it’ll still be steamed, not boiled.

  4. Let the asparagus steam until it’s done. Depending on the size of the spears and how tender you like it, it’ll take 5 to 15 minutes.

  5. Serve the steamed asparagus, and enjoy!

And that’s how to get nice, evenly cooked asparagus. It’s a bit more work to tie up the bundles, but it’s really not that hard.

Microwave Method

You can also use the microwave to steam asparagus. It’s just as easy as the other methods.

Here’s how you do it.

  • Place the asparagus in a microwave-safe dish with a bit of water at the bottom.

    • The dish should be able to hold all the asparagus, laid down flat, in one or two layers.

    • You should be able to cover the dish in plastic wrap without the plastic touching the asparagus.

  • Cover the dish with microwave-safe plastic wrap, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on high. Add another 30s at a time, until the asparagus is done to your liking.

  • Carefully remove the plastic wrap. It’s hot, and so is the steam trapped inside!

  • Serve the steamed asparagus, and enjoy!

Microwaving isn’t really my favorite way to cook. It just doesn’t feel like steaming, since the microwave doesn’t just boil the water, it cooks the asparagus, too. And it doesn’t cook things as evenly as on the stove-top or oven, and I find it can be a bit off. Some people also think that microwaving can be bad for you, but as far as I know that hasn’t really be proven.

But that’s just a personal preference. If you like microwaved steamed asparagus, it’s definitely a quick and easy way to do it, and it takes the least amount of clean up of all. And it doesn’t take up any counter space or stove-top space, which can be a real benefit!

No matter which method you picked to steam asparagus, there are a few extra tricks you can use to make your steamed asparagus extra delicious.

  • Sprinkle the asparagus with a bit of salt, or drizzle it with some butter, lemon juice or a good olive oil for some extra flavor. Coarse salt is especially nice because it’ll add a bit of crunch.

  • Sauté some garlic or shallots in a bit of butter, then toss the asparagus in the mixture. It’ll add a lot of flavor!

  • If you’re not serving the asparagus as soon as it’s cooked, dunk it in cold or ice water. It stops the cooking process, and keeps the asparagus perfectly done. It also helps the steamed asparagus keep its bright green color.

  • How much asparagus is in a serving? It depends on the size of the asparagus. For big, thick asparagus, you might only need 3 to 5 spears per person. With thinner spears, you might need 5 to 10. Just use your best judgment. After all, you know best if you like lots of vegetables!

And that’s how to steam asparagus. It really is a delicious treat… a treat that’s good for you, too! Steaming doesn’t add as many complex flavors as sautéing or roasting does, but asparagus is so good it doesn’t even need anything extra.


HomeCooking Chicken › Southern Fried ChickenGo To How To Fry Chicken – Part I: Preparations

Time to choose: southern fried chicken or deep-fried?

In Part I, we went over the first step of frying chicken, the preparation work. We know how to brine and bread, and it’s time to learn how to fry chicken!

There are two basic ways of doing it: deep fried or pan-fried. Pan-fried is often referred to as southern fried chicken.

In this part of the article, we’ll start by learning how to fry chicken: either southern fried or deep-fried. Then, we’ll talk about how to make a delicious pan gravy.

Here we go!


Frying Chicken

Here it is. The part we’ve all been waiting for: how to fry chicken.

It can be pan-fried or deep-fried. If you’re looking for southern fried chicken, the traditional way of doing that is to pan fry it: it takes a bit more time to cook, and it’s a tiny bit trickier, but it’s also a less greasy way to cook.

Whether you choose to make deep fried or southern fried chicken, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Fried Chicken – On A Plate
  • You need fat to fry. You’ll be frying chicken in some kind of fat or oil. You can pick lard, shortening, or vegetable oil, or even combine them. If you go for vegetable oil, pick something with a high smoke point and neutral flavor, like peanut oil.
  • Let the breading set. It’s a good idea to start heating the oil only once you’re done breading the chicken. It may seem less efficient, but it’ll give the breading time to firm up a little. You don’t need to do this if you’re using a batter, though.
  • Cast-iron works best. If you have a cast-iron pot or skillet, it’s a good time to take it out! It retains heat so well that when you add the chicken to the hot oil the temperature won’t drop so much – and that’s important, because if the oil isn’t hot when the chicken first goes in, you’ll end up with soggy chicken.
  • Be careful. The oil you’ll be cooking in is extremely hot, and it’ll bubble and spatter when you add the chicken. Be very careful putting the chicken in the pot, and moving it around, or you could end up with serious burns or a grease fire. Don’t let the handle of your pot or skillet stick out where someone could knock into it accidentally.
  • If you’re making deep-fried or southern fried chicken in batches, let the oil heat back up to 350F before cooking the next batch. If your oil is too cool, you’ll end up with soggy breading.

Pan-Fried or Southern Fried Chicken

Alright, now that we have a few basics down, let’s learn how to make southern fried chicken! Remember, if you coated your chicken with a batter (with the flour mixed in the liquid instead of two steps, soaking and dredging), you shouldn’t pan fry. Instead, try deep-frying.

  1. In a deep skillet, heat the oil to 350F. The oil should reach half-way up the meat, so half an inch to an inch of oil should do it.
    • Make sure the oil doesn’t reach higher than halfway up your skillet, or you could end up with burns and oil splashes.
    • You can see if it’s the right temperature with a thermometer, or by throwing in a pinch of flour. If the flour fries and the oil bubbles, it should be about hot enough.
  2. Gently place the chicken in the skillet, skin side down. Watch out for the oil spattering!
    • If you just plop the chicken in the pan, it’ll disturb the coating. Even worse, it could cause the oil to splash and give you serious burns.
    • Try not to disturb the coating too much. Using your hands can help with that, but if you’re worried about the oil burning you, you can use tongs – just be gentle!
    • Be sure not to crowd the chicken, or it won’t cook properly. Cook it in batches if you need.
  3. Cook on one side until the bottom is a nice golden color, and blood starts to seep up at the top. This’ll take about 15 minutes for dark meat – it’s a bit shorter for white meat.
    • Keep checking the oil’s temperature. If it gets much below 350F, turn the heat up.
    • Once you put the chicken in, you either have to move it around regularly to keep it from sticking, or just let it be. If you leave it be, it’ll release naturally once the breading firms up, and it’ll be easy to flip.
  4. Flip the chicken over, and cook the other side. You should cook it until it has an internal temperature of 165F. You can also poke it to see if the juices run clear.
    • The second side shouldn’t take quite as long as the first side.
  5. Let the southern fried chicken rest a bit on a wire rack for a few minutes. This’ll let the grease drip off, keeping your chicken crisp. It also lets the juices redistribute inside, and lets it cool down enough not to burn you.
    • You can place something like a cookie sheet under the wire rack to catch the drippings.
    • Do use a wire rack instead of paper towels or a paper bag. If your chicken is sitting directly on paper towels, the grease will make your chicken soggy!

And that’s how you make awesome southern fried chicken!

Deep-Fried Chicken

The alternative to southern fried chicken is deep-fried chicken. It’s not terribly different, but it’s not quite the same, either.

Fried Chicken - Deep Fried

The chicken can end up greasier and it’s generally less healthy than southern fried chicken, but it also cooks faster and it’s easier to get a very pretty breading.

You can also use a batter breading if you deep-fry.

Here’s how you do it!

  1. In a pot or a very deep pan, heat the oil to 350F. The oil should be deep enough to completely cover your chicken pieces.
    • The oil shouldn’t be more than halfway up the pot. It’ll get higher when you add the chicken in, and if it’s too close to the edge it could burn you or start a fire.
    • You can check the oil’s temperature with a thermometer. If you don’t have one, try throwing in a pinch of flour. If it fries nicely and makes the oil bubbles, the oil is hot enough.
  2. Gently lower the chicken pieces into the oil.They should be completely submerged.
    • If you can, try to avoid disturbing the breading. It’ll give you nicer looking chicken. Using your hands is the best way to go, but you have to be very careful not to burn yourself. Use tongs if you’re worried, just be gentle.
    • Never just plop or toss the chicken in, since that can cause splashes.
    • Don’t add too many pieces at once. It’ll reduce the temperature of the oil, making soggy chicken. You should also avoid overcrowding the pot. The chicken should float freely or it won’t cook evenly.
  3. Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F. This’ll take about 10 minutes for white meat, 14 for dark, and maybe 7 minutes for wings.
    • The chicken should float up to the surface when it’s done, but you can check the temperature with a meat thermometer, or poke the chicken to see if the juices run clear.
    • If you like, monitor the temperature of the oil to keep it around 350F. It’ll drop a bit when you add in the chicken, so you may neat to turn up the heat. If the coating gets too cooked before the chicken is ready, just turn down the heat a bit. It’s important that it be very hot initally to make the breading crisp, but after that it can go a bit lower.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. It allows the grease to drip off and keeps the chicken crisp, and lets the juices redistribute. It also ensures that the chicken isn’t so hot that it’ll burn you when you eat it!
    • Place a cookie sheet under the wire rack to catch the oil if you don’t want a real mess.
    • Don’t let the chicken rest on paper towels or a paper bag. The grease and moisture will just make the bottom of the chicken soggy instead of crisp.

Making A Pan Gravy

Alright, we’ve learned how to make deep-fried and southern fried chicken. We’re almost done! The very last step is making a gravy to go with the fried chicken, or with whatever sides you’re planning on serving with the chicken, like biscuits or mashed potatoes.

First, I’ll go over the different elements that’ll make up the gravy, and then I’ll talk about how to put it all together, step-by-step.

  • The base of the gravy is going to be the little pieces of breading and chicken left over in the pan you fried the chicken in. Those little bits are called the fond and they’re packed with flavor.
    • Generally, southern fried chicken will give you a better fond than deep frying, because the chicken is in contact with the pan and more likely to stick.
  • The next element in the gravy is the roux, which is an equal amount of fat and flour, cooked until it starts to become golden. This is what is going to thicken the gravy.
    • For the fat, you can use a few tablespoons of the oil you cooked the chicken in. Just drain most of the oil, leaving a bit at the bottom, and make sure to leave the fond in!
    • You can also use less oil and add some butter, if you prefer a slightly buttery taste in your gravy.
    • You’ll need about 3-4 tablespoons of fat, and 3-4 tablespoons of flour.
  • Next, we need some liquid in the gravy. Once the roux is made, we’ll add in about 2 cups of liquid.
    Fried Chicken - Milk For Gravy
    • A creamy gravy goes great with fried chicken, so the liquid can be milk or cream or a mixture of both.
    • If you don’t want just milk, you can add half milk and half chicken stock, or even just chicken stock on its own if you don’t want a creamy gravy.
    • You can even add water, although I wouldn’t add water all on its own. It would make a pretty bland gravy. Half milk and half water would do, but if you have stock, I’d use that instead. It has much more flavor and body.
  • Finally, we need seasoning. You don’t need anything too crazy to make a delicious gravy for southern fried chicken. The fond and stock, if you used any, add a ton of flavor. But, you can definitely add a bit of salt and pepper, and maybe some garlic or onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, or anything else you like. Keep it simple!

And that’s what makes a southern fried chicken gravy. Let’s see how to put it all together.

  1. Pour off the fat from the skillet you cooked the chicken in, leaving only 3-4 tablespoons in the skillet.
    • Be careful not to pour out the fond, the little bits of chicken left in the pan.
    • If you want to add butter to the gravy, pour out a bit more oil and replace it with butter. For example, leave only 2 tablespoons of oil and add 2 tablespoons of butter.
  2. Heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in 3-4 tablespoons of flour, whisking constantly to prevent any lumping. Heat it and keep stirring, until the mixture loses its floury smell and starts to turn golden.
    • Try and scrape up the fond and blend it into the mixture.
  3. Pour in 1 cup of milk (or other liquid) in a thin stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumping. Pour in the other cup of liquid and add the seasonings. Stir well until the mixture in smooth and homogeneous.
    • When you first add the liquid, the difference in temperature will cause the mixture to seize up a little bit. Don’t worry, it’s normal. Just don’t pour too much at once, and keep stirring to keep it smooth.
  4. Simmer for about 5 minutes. It should be hot enough so that steam is coming off the surface, but it shouldn’t be bubbling. The gravy is ready when it’s as thick as you like it!
    • If you find that the gravy is too thick, you can just add a bit more liquid.

And that’s how you make a tasty gravy for southern fried chicken from the leavings in the pan! Just serve with the chicken or over mashed potatoes, and you’re in for a real treat.

Well, now you know everything about how to fry chicken. But frying chicken does take some practice. You have the basics, now just try it out a few times until you’re comfortable, and you’re sure to get great results!


HomeChicken Recipes › Southern Fried Chicken RecipeIf you’re looking for a yummy treat, here’s a good southern fried chicken recipe. It uses simple, tasty spices that you’re likely to have on hand in your kitchen pretty much anytime, a definite bonus.

Making southern fried chicken can be a bit tricky. If you follow this recipe, you shouldn’t have any problems, but if you want a more in-depth look, check out our two-part article on frying chicken.

It’s got a whole bunch of extra tips and tricks that can really help out.

And now for the southern fried chicken recipe!


Southern Fried Chicken

Preparation Time: 30m     Cooking Time: 30m     Total Time: 1h00m


Serves 4.


1 3-4lb chicken, cut into legs, thighs, wings, breasts and backs
2 cups milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
oil for frying, preferably peanut oil



  1. (Optional) If desired, brine the chicken pieces for about an hour.
  2. Pat the chicken pieces dry.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  4. Dip each piece of chicken in the milk, and let any excess drip off, then dredge it through the flour mixture. Gently shake it to remove any excess flour. Repeat for each piece of chicken until they’re all coated.
  5. In a cast-iron skillet, heat half an inch to an inch of oil to 350F. The oil should reach halfway up the chicken when you place it in the pan.
  6. Gently add the chicken pieces to the skillet skin side down, being careful not to disturb the breading too much.
    • Never plop the chicken in or toss it. That can cause very hot oil to splash and that’s never good.
    • Don’t crowd the chicken, or it won’t cook evenly. The pieces shouldn’t really be touching.
  7. Cook the chicken on one side until the bottom is golden and blood starts to seep up at the top.
  8. Carefully flip the chicken over, and cook the other side until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165F.
  9. Let the chicken rest on a wire rack. It’ll allow the grease to drip off the chicken and the juices inside to redistribute evenly. Plus, it’ll let it cool down so that it won’t burn you when you eat it!




  • If no one likes the wings or backs, you can save them to make an awesome homemade chicken stock.
  • This southern fried chicken recipe uses milk for dipping, but you can also soak it in the milk for several hours, or use any other number of liquids, like buttermilk or an egg wash. Check out our chicken breading article for some more ideas.
  • This recipe can definitely be tweaked. You can add any seasoning you like to the mix, and you can even season the milk and the chicken before dipping.
  • It’s important that the oil be hot when you first put the chicken in. If it isn’t, the breading will end up soggy instead of crisp. So if you have to cook your chicken in batches, be sure to let the oil heat back up before putting in a second batch.
  • If you have to cook the chicken in batches, cook the white meat together and the dark meat together. It’ll be way easier to manage the cooking time. You can even double the recipe if you have a really big skillet.
  • Be very careful. You’re dealing with very hot oil, and splashes can be dangerous and cause burns or grease fires.
  • Never leave the chicken unattended. The oil is very hot and could cause accidents, but the chicken could also go from perfect to overcooked pretty quickly.

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