What you need for Thanksgiving is a plan. Sure, you want workable recipes and high-quality ingredients - but, without a plan, you might have six green-bean casseroles, a frozen turkey and an unhappy family.
What you need for Thanksgiving is a plan.
Sure, you want workable recipes and high-quality ingredients but, without a plan, you might have six green-bean casseroles, a frozen turkey and an unhappy family.
The best advice: Take a few minutes to envision your holiday meal, from the type of turkey to buy and the size and timing to the side dishes and desserts to serve.
Then take a deep breath and put the plan into action.Planning the menu
Decide what you want to have. When choosing side dishes, keep your oven and stove-top space in mind; dont select six side dishes that have to be baked if you dont have the oven space.
Doing a potluck-style Thanksgiving? Assign specifically what you want guests to supply such as a sweet-potato casserole, not just a side dish. Again, keep in mind the oven and stove-top space.
Make a grocery list of everything you need including foil, containers for leftovers, sponges and dish soap. Dont forget bread for next-day sandwiches.Buying the bird
Order the turkey now, if necessary especially when eyeing a heritage or specialty variety.
Plan about 1 pound of turkey for each person.
For a large gathering, consider two smaller turkeys instead of a large one for even cooking. Or, for a family that doesnt like dark meat, get a turkey breast (which has the best taste when still on the bone, as with a whole turkey).
With a frozen turkey, allow 24 hours of thawing time for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey or three to four days for a 12- to 16-pound turkey. Buy the frozen turkey this weekend and thaw it in the refrigerator.
Buy a meat thermometer, which offers the only way to know when the turkey is done.Starting the meal
Brine the turkey thawed first if frozen. Submerge the turkey in a brining solution (see recipe, Page D3) and store it in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. For an extra-crispy skin, remove the turkey from the brine a day ahead (after starting the brining a day earlier) and leave the turkey, uncovered, on a rack in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
Make the pies up to a day ahead or, with homemade crusts, up to three days ahead.
Prepare the cranberry sauce up to three days ahead.
Dry the bread and cornbread for the stuffing a day or two ahead.
Set the table the night before.
Secure the baking dishes and platters you need.Doing the cooking
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator one hour before starting the roasting for even cooking.
Put the turkey in the oven.
Prepare the side dishes with mashed potatoes kept in a slow cooker on low, if desired, for up to four hours. Assemble the dishes for placement in the oven after the turkey is done.
Remove the turkey from the oven. Wait 15 to 30 minutes before carving it.
Put the side dishes in the oven.
Carve the turkey.
Make the gravy.
Warm the rolls.
Enjoy the dinner.