Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

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10 Ways to Keep Your Thanksgiving Stress-Free- Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hosting a big turkey dinner can be a challenge but, if you do it with love and ask for some help, it need not become a stress-filled event. The following tips -- put together by Editor Debra Steilen of Better Homes & Gardens -- will prove to be a big help in making Thanksgiving a pleasant family occasion for all your guests -- and for you, the host or hostess, as well.

1. Create a plan. Sit down and make a guest list. From the number of guests you invite you can plan a meal. The secret to a simple meal is planning ahead so everything doesn't demand your attention all at once.

2. Plan a potluck. A potluck can be a great way to share the load, and with just a little planning you can avoid 15 green bean casseroles at your dinner table. Ensure menu variety and head off an all-deviled-egg buffet by assigning food categories to your guests.

3. Shop early. Brookhaven stores will get busier closer to Turkey Day. Plan your main shopping trip a week in advance and follow up with a second trip a day or two before Thanksgiving to pick up things like produce and bakery goods. Ask your spouse or partner to help with the shopping; it’s always easier if you have help finding things, and an extra pair of hands makes putting the groceries away much less stressful.

4. Prepare as much as possible in advance. There are plenty of side dishes, desserts, and breads that can be made ahead of time. For instance, measure seasonings and store them in labeled bags or containers; cut and store vegetables; and roast garlic a week in advance, then store the cloves in olive oil in the refrigerator.

One thing that you should not do, however, is pre-stuff your turkey.  Harmful bacteria can multiply in the stuffing and cause food poisoning even when the stuffed bird is refrigerated. The cavity of the bird actually insulates the stuffing from the cold temperatures of the refrigerator and acts as an incubator for the harmful bacteria. 

The ingredients for the stuffing can be prepared in advance and refrigerated separately. To save time, chop vegetables such as onions and celery the night before. The safest method is to mix the ingredients and lightly stuff the turkey just prior to popping it into a preheated oven.

5. Remember: practice makes perfect. If you're braving a new recipe or using ingredients that you aren't quite familiar with, try them out beforehand so you'll be primed for success on Thanksgiving Day.

6. Let your family help. Have the whole family help clean house and put up decorations. Children will jump at the chance to make place cards, fold napkins, and dress up your holiday table. This will also keep them out of the kitchen while you attend to the food.

7. Use your microwave oven. Take advantage of this appliance to reheat food before serving when all the burners on the stove-top are occupied.

8. Let the turkey rest before slicing. To avoid a last-minute crunch and assure tender turkey, let the bird rest out of the oven, covered, for about 20 minutes before slicing.

9. Serve buffet-style. Serving dinner buffet-style saves on both space and cleanup time. Also, with pretty serving bowls and silver utensils, guests can help themselves to seconds whenever they want.

10. Relax. Remember that Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day full of family, relaxation, and reflection. Thanksgiving is a great time for families to gather and spend the day together sharing traditions, so don’t let the task of being the host or hostess overwhelm you and rob you of that joyous family experience.

 

All About Brie - One of the world’s greatest cheeses- Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Brie is one of the best known French cheeses and has seen a surge in popularity in the United States over the past couple decades, with peoples’ perception of it transitioning from “this is a luxury food” to “this would probably be great on my grilled cheese” mainly in the past ten-fifteen years or so. This is largely due to the tremendous increase in availability and variety of Brie cheeses, which has brought prices down and enabled more people to experience Brie, as well as experiment with it.

While it may have only taken off here in recent times, throughout its history Brie’s popularity in Europe has been immense. In fact, it was dubbed the “King of Cheeses” (or “Queen”, depending on whom you ask) not long after its creation in the Middle Ages, and was often given as tribute to the Kings of France… And if you have ever encountered a perfectly ripened, quality Brie, it’s easy to understand why it was so strongly favored.

Types of Brie

[info courtesy of Wikipedia.org]

Brie de Meaux - Brie de Meaux is an unpasteurized Brie. It is manufactured in the town of Meaux in the Brie region of northern France. It was originally known as the "King's Cheese", or, after the French Revolution, the "King of Cheeses," and was enjoyed by the peasantry and nobility alike. It was granted the protection of Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 1980, and it is produced primarily in the eastern part of the Parisian basin.

Brie de Melun - This Brie is considered to have a stronger flavor and more pungent smell than Brie de Meaux. It is made with unpasteurized milk. Brie de Melun is also available in the form of "Old Brie" or black Brie. This Brie also has AOC status.

International Bries – Bries are now produced all over the world using a variety of methods and ingredients, including herbs, but what always remains the same regardless of country of origin is Brie’s development and texture...

Brie is classi?ed as a "bloomy rind, soft-ripened cheese," which indicates that it ripens from the rind inward, forming a thin white skin with that velvety "bloom." When perfectly ripe, it should be creamy and ?avorful, not runny or pungent. It should bulge slightly when cut but not collapse or pull away from the rind.

Serving Brie

A wheel of Brie is a quintessential party food due to its unmatched ?avor and elegant reputation. However, in order to maximize its flavor and texture, be sure to remove the cheese from the refrigerator approximately 30–45 minutes before serving.

Once brought to room temperature,

1)     Slice the Brie into bite sized pieces.

2)     Serve the Brie with a crusty bread or a plain crackers, or with light-colored fruits, such as pears or grapes.

3)     For the full experience, pair your Brie with wine. Acidic, herbaceous, dry whites like Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) or Sauvignon Blanc work well, as do champagnes and sparkling wines.

Though Brie is pure heaven on its own, as part of a cheese course, or with cool, fresh fruit, it takes on an equally delightful character when heated. Try baked Brie (see below) for a more traditional take on the cheese, or experiment a bit by incorporating it into a grilled sandwich or homemade macaroni and cheese. Brie in puff pastry is also delicious, and it lends itself perfectly to fondue as well.

Baked Brie

1)     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2)     Place the Brie on a glass pie plate or some other decorative oven-proof plate.

3)     Bake the Brie for 10 to 12 minutes, until the center is soft.

4)     Serve sliced with fruit, crusty bread, or crackers.

Recommended toppings for Baked Brie

  • Slivered almonds
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Apricot preserves
  • Raspberry preserves
  • Caramelized pears or apples

Other Brie recipes

Baked Brie with Spicy Kiwifruit Compote

Lemon Pepper Chicken & Brie Flatbread Pizza

Tuna, Broccoli and Brie Casserole

Ripe Olive and Walnut Brie Torte

Baked Brie in Pastry

 

Olives – Candy for the Mediterranean Diet- Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Anyone who has visited our store knows that we offer a wide variety of fresh marinated olives, which can be found both in the cheese case and in bulk in our deli. Olives make up an important part of the healthy Mediterranean diet, so why not take a closer look at them? Here is some useful information regarding several varieties of olives, from harvesting facts to preparation suggestions...

(Much of the information contained in this blog article was found in a web posting on About.com, written by Nancy Gaifyllia.)

The color of olives indicates what time during the harvesting season they were picked.  Harvesting runs from October to January: The greenest olives are harvested in October, the red or pink in November, the black in December, and the wrinkled black (not to be confused with olives that have shriveled due to curing in salt) in January.

picSmall Cretan Green Olives
Crete is famous for these tiny olives, which are also cultivated in Messinia and Zakynthos.  Despite their size, they are packed with oil and are the source of some of the world's best olive oil.  When green, small quantities are harvested as table olives.  When black and ripe (December, January, and sometimes February), they are almost exclusively harvested for the production of olive oil.  Most of the table olives are consumed in Greece, never reaching western markets; the olive oil, famous the world over, is consumed in Greece and exported.

picHalkithiki Green Olives
These olives are harvested in October and are grown solely on the Halkithiki Peninsula.  Recently, green olives from Halkidiki were finally granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the European Union (EU).  A PDO product is given this designation/label to highlight the fact that it is produced in a specific geographical region, and therefore unique.  The Halkdiki green olives are huge due to the microclimate and the geography: low-lying hills, lots of flat land and the sea being nearby.  These olives have a unique flavor profile and, like all other olives, are very healthy for you.

picGreen olives from Nafplion
Harvested at the beginning of the season in October, these olives are named after a town which is found on the coast and which is famous for its exotic places and nature.  The Nafplion olive is rather small and has a nutty flavor.  They are used in Greek specialties, including cold appetizers, as topping for warm main courses, and in salads or garnishes.  These kinds of olives are sometimes used simply for decorating salads and various meals.  They may also be used in local kebabs, and beside chicken, lettuce and mayo.

picKalamata Olives, Red & Black
Also known as "pink" olives, these are harvested in November.  If left on the tree longer to further ripen, the Kalmata turn black and are harvested, at full ripeness, in December.  This is the olive most recognize as the Greek olive.  Kalamata is a region in Greece famous for its production of olives and olive oils.

Most Kalamata olives are split prior to being brined or pickled, which allows the flavor, particularly of vinaigrette, to soak into the interior of the olive.  Yet before you begin eating, be aware that these olives are usually sold with their seeds in.  If you plan to serve these, eat them yourself, or add them to recipes, be sure to remove the seed first.

picWrinkled Black Olives or "Throubes"
Unlike olives that shrivel up after curing, these are fully mature olives that are not picked...They ripen and shrivel on the tree.  Nets are placed under the trees and the olives fall off when fully ripe.  The wrinkling is their natural state.  They are the only olives that can be eaten directly from the tree, but are dry-cured for commercial use.  Most throubes come from the Greek island of Thassos.  Favorite ways to serve them are with Patatosalata (Greek potato salad), or drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano.  They are meaty with a strong olive taste, and are not used to make olive oil.

 

Short Ribs...never short on flavor!- Tuesday, February 23, 2016

If this is a cut of meat that you aren’t all that familiar with, we would like to help change that by giving you a bit of helpful information. There are two major cuts of beef ribs, back ribs and short ribs. Beef short ribs come from primal cuts below the more expensive beef cuts, the rib and the loin.

The best cut of beef ribs comes from the lower (ventral) section of the animal. The ribs in this region are called "short ribs" not because they are short in length, but because they come from a specific subsection called the short plate. The short plate is located right in front of another inexpensive, chewy but flavorful cut, the flank steak, and just behind another favorite cut for barbecue, the brisket.

Like ribeye steaks, beef ribs are well marbled with fat which is why they are rich in classic beef flavor. However, these muscles get a lot more work than other areas, such as the loin, so they are full of connective tissue and tendons. This makes the meat too chewy to be enjoyable if not prepared properly. The bones are almost straight with about 1-2" of meat on top, which makes them good for barbecue, and braising. When barbequed, they should be roasted low and slow with dry heat and a bit of wood smoke; this method results in a dark brown exterior and flavorful, tender meat. Cooking your ribs at low temperatures allows the connective tissues and fat to break down without drying out the meat.

The other recommended cooking method is braising. When simmered on low in a flavorful liquid as they do in France, you get very juicy and very tender, flavor-packed meat that has absorbed the richness of the braising liquid. In return, the meat has given up most of its innate essence to the greater good of the stew.

Another preparation method that works well for short ribs is tenderizing. First, you sprinkle the meat with a tenderizing agent, then you pierce/pound the flesh with a handheld meat tenderizer. This method results in very fine pieces of rare meat -- very juicy and beefy, and roughly equivalent to much more expensive beef cuts.

Now that you know a bit more about beef short ribs and how to best prepare them, here are some delicious recipe ideas.

 

Preparing and cooking with fresh herbs- Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Everyone likes at least a little seasoning in their food, beyond the usual salt and pepper. Seasonings, and herbs in particular, can dramatically affect the way something smells and tastes, thus offering more variety in our meals and more ways to please our palates.

Fresh herbs versus dried

While it is often easier or more expedient to cook with dry herbs -- they come in convenient bottles and are more or less stable for months -- they're not always appropriate, and they don't always provide exactly the right flavor or texture. So how do you know which to use, fresh herbs or dried? According to delishmegish.com, you first need to determine how much of the herb you need:

If you’re making a dish that spotlights a particular herb, you’ll want to use a fresh one. Take pesto, for instance. You’d never pour 2 cups of dried basil into a food processor and hope for a luscious green pesto sauce — you’d use fresh basil leaves, no doubt. For something robust and savory like pesto, it’s important to use fresh herbs or that earthy bite. But, if you’re making chicken ratatouille, a dish that requires several ingredients, it’s safe to use dried herbs. After all, you’d only use a few tablespoons of dried marjoram.

And you should also look at the quantity of other herbs and seasonings in the recipe:

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is, the fewer ingredients a recipe calls for, the fresher and finer they should be. When you’re whipping up something like frico, a crunchy treat that needs only parmesan cheese, lemon zest and basil, fresh leaves are an absolute must. This way, you taste the sharp saltiness of the cheese, the fragrant lemon and of course, the basil, that initial peppery flavor that ultimately dissolves into minty sweetness.

How to prepare fresh herbs

Note: Before utilizing any of the following methods, thoroughly rinse your herbs under cool water. Gently blot them dry with paper towels or use a salad spinner to remove the excess moisture.

The best knife for chopping herbs is sharp with a wide blade, such as a chef’s knife or a Chinese cleaver, that lets you chop without hitting your fingers on the cutting board. Don’t use serrated-edge knives, because they won’t cut cleanly!

Stripping - You can remove tiny leaves from herbs such as thyme by holding onto the stem with one hand and stripping the leaves into a bowl using the other hand.

Snipping - To cut larger clean and dry fresh herbs, place leaves in a measuring cup or bowl and snip them with kitchen scissors, using short, quick strokes. For herbs with tough stems, such as rosemary, strip the leaves from the stem first.

Chiffonade - A chiffonade is a bunch of thin strips or shreds. To create a chiffonade of herbs, roll up larger leaves, such as basil, and cut across the roll

To store unprepared herbs, cut a 1/2 inch from the stems. Stand stem ends in a small jar with some water. Loosely cover leaves with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Don't refrigerate basil -- it may blacken. Discard wilted leaves as they appear.

Ratio of fresh herbs to dried (substitutions)

When cooking with fresh and dry herbs, there is a general rule when it comes to the ratio of fresh to dry. Because dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs, you won't require as much. Roughly speaking, you need about three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry. So, for example, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, you would need 1 tablespoon of fresh if you wanted to do a substitution.

Herbs that are commonly used fresh [courtesy of cookinglight.com]

Basil - One of the most important culinary herbs. Sweet basil, the most common type, is redolent of licorice and cloves. Basil is used in the south of France to make pistou; its Italian cousin, pesto, is made just over the border. Used in sauces, sandwiches, soups, and salads, basil is in top form when married to tomatoes, as in the famous salad from the island of Capri—Insalata Caprese, made with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and fruity olive oil.

Mint - Mint isn't just a little sprig that garnishes your dessert plate. It is extremely versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. In the Mediterranean, mint is treasured as a companion to lamb, and is often used in fruit and vegetable salads. Though there are many varieties, spearmint is preferred for cooking. You can add it to a bevy of dishes and drinks—lamb, peas, carrots, ice cream, tea, mint juleps, and mojitos. Spearmint's bright green leaves are fuzzy, very different from the darker stemmed, rounded leaves of peppermint.

Rosemary - In Latin, rosemary means "dew of the sea"—appropriate since it is indigenous to the Mediterranean. Rosemary is one of the most aromatic and pungent of all the herbs. Its needlelike leaves have pronounced lemon-pine flavor that pairs well with roasted lamb, garlic, and olive oil. Rosemary is also a nice addition to focaccia, tomato sauce, pizza, and pork, but because its flavor is strong, use a light hand.

Oregano - Oregano grows wild in the mountains of Italy and Greece; its Greek name means "joy of the mountain." The Greeks love oregano sprinkled on salads, while the Italians shower it on pizza and slip it into tomato sauces. Add chopped oregano to vinaigrette, or use it in poultry, game, or seafood dishes when you want to take them in a Greek or Italian direction. Oregano and marjoram are so similar in looks and flavor that they are often confused. Oregano, however, has a more potent taste and aroma; marjoram is sweeter and more delicate.

Thyme -Thyme comes in dozens of varieties; however, most cooks use French thyme. Undoubtedly thyme is one of the most important herbs of the European kitchen. What would a bouquet garni be without it? This congenial herb pairs well with many other herbs—especially rosemary, parsley, sage, savory, and oregano. Its earthiness is welcome with pork, lamb, duck, or goose, and it's much beloved in Cajun and Creole cooking. It's also the primary component of Caribbean jerk seasonings. Because the leaves are so small, they often don't require chopping.

Cilantro - Some call it cilantro; others call it coriander, or even Chinese parsley. Whatever you call it, chances are you either love it or hate it. This native of southern Europe and the Middle East has a pungent flavor, with a faint undertone of anise. The leaves are often mistaken for flat-leaf parsley, so read the tag. One of the most versatile herbs, cilantro adds distinctive flavor to salsas, soups, stews, curries, salads, vegetables, fish, and chicken dishes.

Parsley - No refrigerator should be without parsley. It's the workhorse of the herb world and can go in just about every dish you cook. Parsley's mild, grassy flavor allows the flavors of other ingredients to come through. Curly parsley is less assertive than its brother, flat-leaf parsley (often called Italian parsley). Flat-leaf parsley is preferred for cooking, as it stands up better to heat and has more flavor, while the more decorative curly parsley is used mostly for garnishing.

Chives - Toss chives into a dish at the last minute, because heat destroys their delicate onion flavor. Thinly slice them to maximize their taste, or use finely snipped chives as a garnish. Chives are great in dips and quesadillas, and on baked potatoes.

Be Safe with Food - Basic Sanitation and How to Avoid Cross-Contamination- Tuesday, June 30, 2015

This is good information for anyone and especially good to teach your children as they begin learning their way around your kitchen. Even when a food preparer is trying to be safe and sanitary, a small lapse in judgment can make lots of people very sick.

Clean: Wash Hands and Surfaces Often

  • Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food.

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom or changing diapers.

  • Wash your hands after playing with pets or visiting petting zoos.

  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.

  • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.

  • Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.

  • Keep books, backpacks or shopping bags off the kitchen table or counters where food is prepared or served.

Separate: Don't Cross-Contaminate

Cross-contamination is how bacteria can be spread. When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.

  • Always start with a clean scene ― wash hands with warm water and soap.  Wash cutting boards, dishes, counter tops, and utensils with hot soapy water.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and in your refrigerator.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Use a food thermometer, which measures the internal temperature of cooked meat, poultry, and egg dishes, to make sure that the food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.

If you have any additional suggestions to share with our readers that will help assure that they keep a safe and sanitary kitchen, please share them here.

Pomegranates: An ancient fruit, but the new Superfood- Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One of the oldest known fruits, found in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religions, the pomegranate (punica granatum) is an original native of modern day Iran. This nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health and fertility for ages. However, while it has always been an important part of the Middle Eastern diet, until recently pomegranates were nothing more than a seasonal novelty in the U.S...

Generally speaking, the fruit is not as attractive to Americans as it is to folks in the Mid-East, Europe and the Far East, primarily because of its somewhat inconvenient abundance of seeds; preparing a pomegranate for consumption takes time and a bit of skill. However, now that medical studies have begun shedding some light on the health benefits of the pomegranate, thereby revealing it for the superfood it is, the fruit is finally gaining in popularity.

How to select

* For eating or juicing, select pomegranates by weight, not by color.
* The outside of a ripe pomegranate can vary from pink to a deep ruby red.
* The heavier pomegranates are, the more juice they contain.

The potent pomegranate

The pomegranate is a nutrient dense food source rich in phytochemical compounds. Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. Pomegranate juice may help stop plaque formation in the blood vessels (an anti-atherogenic effect), and it also appears to suppress the growth of cancer cells and increase cancer cell death in lab testing, according to research from UCLA.

A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries. Pomegranates are also loaded with vitamins, potassium, folic acid and iron!

How to open a pomegranate

Step. 1 Cut
With a sharp paring knife, cut off the top about a half inch below the crown.

 






Step. 2 Score
Once the top has been removed, four to six sections of the pomegranate divided by the white membrane will be visible. With the knife’s point, score the skin along each section.


 

 

Step. 3 Open
Using both hands, carefully pull the pomegranate apart in a bowl of water, breaking it into smaller sections.

 





Step. 4 Loosen
Under water, loosen the arils and allow them to sink to the bottom of the bowl; the membrane will float to the top.



 


Step. 5 Scoop
Use a spoon to scoop out the pieces of white membrane that have floated to the top of the water.

 

 


Step. 6 Strain
Pour the arils and remaining liquid through a strainer.

 

 




Some great pomegranate recipes

Now that you are acquainted with the health benefits of the pomegranate and know how to extract the edible portion of the fruit, here are some delicious recipes for you to enjoy.

Chicken Enchiladas with Cream Sauce and Pomegranate

Pomegranate and Papaya Salad with Ginger Dressing

Pomegranate Jeweled Spinach Salad

Spicy Pomegranate Relish

Pomegranate-Marinated Rack Of Lamb

Pomegranate-Honey Roasted Game Hens

 

Let’s Talk Turkey!- Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Without a doubt the month of November is the busiest that our meat department gets every year, followed closely by December. It is so gratifying to realize that thousands of our customers come year after year to our store and order their fresh turkey and Christmas roasts. On behalf of the Prisco Family and our employees we would like to say “Thank you” for your ongoing support and we want to wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

That being said, I’d like to devote my Shout Out to passing on some helpful advice and perhaps answer questions about how to best prepare and enjoy the center of your holiday meal… The turkey.

Let me begin by going over the top 10 reasons why you should always purchase an all-natural Ho-Ka fresh, non-basted turkey from Prisco’s Family Market.

  1. These are locally grown turkeys raised on the Kaufmann Farm in Waterman, IL.

  2. The Kaufman Farm is a green farm. In addition to raising turkeys, the farm rotates crops of corn, soy beans and wheat. Turkey litter is the only fertilizer used on the corn which is grown to feed the turkeys. Turkeys range on freshly harvested wheat fields, which were no-till drilled into last year's soybean field.

  3. Ho-Ka turkeys are raised in a slower, gentler fashion in order to assure that each bird attains maximum tenderness, a denser meatiness and a richer favor.

  4. Ho-Ka turkeys are fed a balanced diet of animal protein and natural grain.

  5. Ho-Ka turkeys are younger and therefore more tender, dressed at 16 to 19 weeks.

  6. Our Ho-Ka turkeys are 100% natural with minimal processing and absolutely no additives.

  7. Prior to Thanksgiving they are raised free range on freshly harvested wheat fields

  8. Our Ho-Ka turkeys are comparable to or better tasting than those sold online or in specialty stores at more than twice the price per lb.

  9. Our fresh (never frozen) Ho-Ka turkeys retail for just $2.99 lb.

    ..... And the top reason to buy your fresh Ho-Ka turkey from Prisco’s Family Market is .....

  10. YOU ALWAYS GET IT EXACTLY YOUR WAY. Simply call us at (630) 264-9401. Tell us what size bird or birds you want, what extras you would like included, and when you want to pick it up. It’s that simple. All you need do then is invite the quests and write your shopping list for the fresh produce, deli trays, pies and wine and beer to get when you stop to pick up your delicious, fresh Ho-Ka Turkey.

What if you have questions?

Is this the first time you’ve cooked a turkey dinner? Perhaps not the first but it’s been a while and you don’t want to disappoint a house full of Thanksgiving quests? Not to worry, you’ve come to the right place. We have all your turkey questions answered and several you haven’t even thought of yet. Here are some examples of questions we get asked most often.

  1. Question: Can you really tell the difference between a fresh Ho-Ka turkey and the less expensive frozen alternative?

    Answer: Some people can’t but the vast majority can and that’s why hundreds of local area families return to Prisco’s every year to order their fresh turkey and holiday roasts.

  2. Question: Is there a difference in taste between the various brands of turkeys that you carry?

    Answer: While individual customers show a particular preference for one band over another our taste experts say it’s difficult to taste any clear difference because we carry only Grade “A” natural birds. We like to steer people who aren’t pre-set on a particular brand toward the locally grown, all natural fresh Ho-Ka brand because they offer the best opportunity to match the bird size with your particular needs.

  3. Question: Do you only sell fresh turkeys? What if I’d prefer a frozen turkey?

    Answer: No problem at all, we carry two of the most popular frozen turkeys in the market, Grade “A” Nobest and Butterball.

  4. Question: What size turkey should I order?

    Answer: To have plenty for everyone, figure one pound per average adult and about ½ a pound for seniors and children. This is one meal, however, where everyone wants some leftovers, so after counting heads and pounds add on five or six pounds for delicious leftovers and turkey sandwiches.

  5. Question: Do I need to get a hen?

    Answer: This is something that you may have heard from grandma or perhaps even Mom. Years ago when turkeys were raised totally free range the Toms (males) ran a lot, fought with each other and got lean and a bit tough. A Tom turkey was something to be avoided if possible. That’s not the case any longer: All the turkeys are raised humanely and are well cared for to assure that no matter the sex of the bird, you are getting a delicious natural meal.

  6. Question: Will my turkey keep fresh in my refrigerator?

    Answer: Yes it should keep fresh for a week if properly refrigerated. Just keep it in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

 

  1. Question: What can I do to avoid hurt feelings when four kids want the two drum sticks?

    Answer: Easier than you may think. When you order your turkey ask for two extra turkey legs…no problem. Some customers who have an abundance of white meat lovers order an extra turkey breast rather than trying to fit two full turkeys in the oven.

  2. Question: What is the proper temperature for a roasted turkey?

    Answer: The white meat should be 160-165 degrees F. and the dark meat 170-175 degrees F. Most of the fresh turkeys come with a popup timer. The Ho-Ka and Butterball do not. Pop up timers are available for sale in the store. The frozen turkeys do come with timers. Of course the surest method is to use an instant read thermometer.

  3. Question: I have a small family and nobody likes dark meat. What do you suggest?

    Answer: Buy one of our exceptional boneless or bone-in breasts. Our meat cutters make them right here at the store in a variety of sizes. We are one of the few stores that offers a complete range of fresh turkey parts including breasts, drumsticks, thighs, wings, backs and necks for stock, and giblets. (Boy if they thought that they didn’t like dark meat wait till they try some turkey giblets.)

  4. Question: I’ve heard brining can make a turkey moister. What does that involve?

    Answer: Brining your turkey is a good way to add moisture and seasoning throughout the bird. It is generally worth the effort. The most basic way to brine a turkey (see The Joy of Cooking) is to add two pounds of salt to two gallons of water in a suitable container and, in a cool spot, submerge your turkey for 4-6 hours. At roasting time, remove from the solution, pat dry and cook according to instructions. Many times people like to add their own touches to the brining solution such as apple cider, or various spice combinations. Brining kits are available in the store.

 

Margaret’s 5 step process to carving a turkey

I’d like to close out this little epistle on turkeys by sharing my sure fire best way to carve your turkey

Take the turkey from the oven, place on a cutting board and remove the stuffing. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes before beginning.

  1. With a sharp carving knife, remove the legs by placing the knife in the seam where the thigh meets the breast. Slice through the meat slowly, pushing down on the leg until you reach the ball joint (where the thigh bone meets the pelvis). With the tip of the knife, cut through the joint, releasing the whole leg. Grasp the drumstick in one hand and with the knife, find the drumstick/thigh joint and separate the drumstick from the thigh. Repeat for the other side.

  2. Next grasp the wing and probe with the knife tip to find the joint where the wing attaches to the breast. Cut through the joint and remove the wing. Repeat for the other wing.

  3. You now have the whole breast with back portion attached. At this point the breast meat can be sliced “as is” or the breast meat can be removed from the carcass in halves and then placed on the cutting board for slicing.

  4. To remove the breast meat from the bone, score the breast down the middle along the keel (or breast bone) with the tip of the knife. Once the seam has been created insert the blade lengthwise and “scoop” along the breast bone. The breast half should literally fall away from the bone at this point. Repeat for the other half.

  5. You now have a disjointed turkey. The meat can now be sliced as you wish. The drumsticks, thighs, and wings can be served as-is, or the meat can be sliced off and the bones discarded. Slice the breast meat against the grain.

 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Margaret Prisco

 

Winter squash – more than just a table decoration.- Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Part of any fall decoration, it seems, are pumpkins and various gourds and squash varieties.  Unfortunately, for many of us who enjoy the delicious seasonal taste of winter squash as well as the appearance, it is something we don’t get to enjoy very often. This is primarily because most of us only know how to properly prepare these autumn beauties in a couple ways, and our palates require more variety.

Winter squash come in many sizes and shapes, but all have hard outer rinds that surround sweet, often orange flesh.  Winter squash arrive late in the growing season; they have a long shelf life, so they've long been a staple in winter and spring, when other vegetables are harder to come by. Unlike summer squash, winter squash must be cooked. They're usually baked or steamed, and occasionally puréed.

This week, let’s focus on just three varieties of winter squash in order to help take away some of the mystery of these vegetables.

Acorn squash
These are popular because of their small size--one squash can be cut in half and baked to make two generous servings. The biggest drawback to this variety is that the rind is quite hard and therefore difficult to cut. Select acorn squash with as much green on the rind as possible. We've found some helpful tips on how to prepare acorn squash on http://homecooking.about.com

Acorn Squash Cooking Tips

* You'll need to remove the fibers and seeds from the center of the acorn squash before steaming, broiling, or baking.\

* Save the acorn squash seeds to toast for snacking just as you would pumpkin seeds.

* A sturdy knife to slice acorn squash in half is a necessity. To make the squash easier to cut, pierce the skin in a few spots, place it  in a microwave oven and heat on high for 2 minutes. Let stand for another few minutes before carving.

* When halving, cut through the stem end to the point rather than across the diameter.

* To prevent halves from rocking on the baking tray, cut a small slice off the bottom to flatten it.

* The ribbed shape of the acorn squash makes peeling it virtually impossible, but wonderful for stuffing with a wide variety of fillings. It is most often served cooked in its shell. If you need the pulp only, you will need to cook it first and then scoop the pulp from the skin. It is done when the flesh is very tender, usually about one hour baking time at 400 degrees F. for halved squash. Timing depends on the size of the squash, but it's difficult to over-bake.

* Avoid boiling acorn squash. Boiling damages both the flavor and the texture.

* To quickly microwave acorn squash, cut two whole squash in half, cover and cook for 13 minutes on high. Do not add water.

* Acorn squash can also be cooked whole. Pierce the skin in several places. Place on a baking sheet in 350-degree F. oven for about 1-1/2 hours. Squeeze the squash to test for doneness. When it yields to gentle pressure, it's done. You can then cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and serve or cool and use the cooked innards.

* The deeper the yellowish orange color of the flesh, the sweeter it is. If you end up with a stringy squash, you can beat the pulp with an electric mixer on high speed for ten seconds and then switch to low speed for sixty seconds. The strings should wrap around the beaters for easy removal.


Butternut Squash
This variety is very popular because it's so easy to use. It's small enough to serve a normal family without leftovers, and the rind is thin enough to peel off with a vegetable peeler. As an added bonus, the flavor is sweet, moist, and pleasantly nutty.

If possible, buy long-neck butternut fruit as it contains more meat and less hollow cavity and seeds. Cut the stem end and slice the whole fruit into two equal halves. Remove central net-like structure and set aside seeds, then cut into desired sizes. In general, wedges/small cubes are used in cooking. Almost all the parts of the butternut squash plant--fruit, leaves, flowers, and seeds--are edible.

Here are some serving tips:

* Like in pumpkin, butternut has a beautiful nutty flavor and mildly sweet taste. Fresh raw butternut cubes may add a special tang to vegetable salads.

* It is favored in both savory as well as sweet dishes. It can be used in a variety of delicious recipes either baked, stuffed, or stew-fried. However, steam cooking is best for preserving the maximum number of nutrients.

* Like in pumpkin, it can also be used in the preparations of casseroles, pies, pancakes, custard, ravioli, bread, muffins, etc.

* Roasted and tossed butternut squash seeds can be used as snacks.


Spaghetti Squash
Though much larger than summer squash, a spaghetti squash is an oblong, slightly rounded squash with a skin similar to that of a summer squash. You can cook spaghetti squash in a number of ways, including boiling, baking, steaming...even barbecuing!
 
When spaghetti squash is cooked, the inner flesh comes off the rind and separates into strands which closely resemble pasta. Though they taste like squash, these "noodles" can be served as a low-calorie, nutrient-rich substitute for pasta.
 
Some people are on diets that require them to avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates. Given this restriction, these individuals often find spaghetti squash to be a very good substitute for a pasta.