SOURCE: Chicago Cutlery

November 22, 2010 09:00 ET

Sharp Tips to Make Your Holiday Meals Effortless

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - November 22, 2010) - (Family Features) With the holidays just around the corner, it's an ideal time to brush up on your food preparation skills. To help transform everyday cooks into culinary pros, "Top Chef" winner Stephanie Izard has teamed up with the Chicago Cutlery brand to provide tips that will help you carve the perfect turkey and leave with plenty of time for you to enjoy the meal with family and friends.

1. Plan ahead: Make a list of 'To-Dos' leading up to your celebration. Remember to defrost the turkey in the refrigerator several days ahead of time. Polish silverware and chop vegetables the night before to lighten prep work on the day of the event.
2. Ask relatives to pitch in: Save time and money by inviting family members to bring a side dish, appetizer or dessert.
3. Sharp knives are actually safer. Take knives in for sharpening and learn how to use a sharpening steel. Using a steel will ensure you are slicing your turkey rather than shredding it. 
4. Tuck those fingers in. When using a large chef knife, hold the vegetable with your other hand and tuck fingers under like a "claw" to protect your fingertips while you chop.
5. Choose the right knife for the job. A knife should be longer than the material it is cutting -- i.e., an 8-inch chef's knife is better than a paring knife for squash. This will help you cut faster, prevent injury and make for cleaner cuts. 
6. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. This gives the turkey time to reabsorb juices, keeping it moist. Remember, when it's time to carve, always use a sturdy carving knife.
7. Safety first. Use protective covers for knives in the drawer. For example, Chicago Cutlery knives have reusable blade protectors that keep the blade sharp and protected.
8. Wash and dry knives by hand in warm soapy water... not in the dishwasher. Dishwashing may cause nicks, and the heat and detergent may have a corrosive effect on the handles and blades.
9. Cutting board etiquette. Use a large board for ample workspace, and use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables to prevent contamination.
10. Don't forget the leftovers! Preparing a whole bird allows you to get creative with the leftovers, such as soups and pot pie.

Izard's recipe for a delicious Sweet Onion Soup lets you put these tips into practice. For more use and care tips, visit

Sweet Onion Soup 
Servings: 6 
2 sweet onions, peeled, cut in half and sliced thin
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sparkling white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup water
  Salt to taste

Combine sweet onions and olive oil in cold pot. Put over low heat and let onions sweat. Salt slightly to prevent onions from caramelizing. Stir occasionally. When onions have released most of their juices (about 2 hours), add sparkling white wine and cook another hour. When all alcohol is cooked off, remove from heat and blend in blender, then strain through a fine sieve. Whisk in cream and water, and add salt to taste. Chill or serve hot.