Advance preparations for Thanksgiving dinner is one of the few things people think about when they think about cooking for this holiday. This can lead to frustration and anger during the day of the feast, taking away from what should be a joyful experience. Follow these tips to ease the pain out of cooking the bird thus allowing yourself time to enjoy a sip or two of fine wine and good company.
- Defrost the turkey – Take the turkey out of the freezer five days ahead of time and place in your refrigerator. Nothing cooks worse than a frozen turkey.
- Pies – Make your pies the day before if you can. They will taste just as good and won’t eat too much time out of the big day.
- Set table – If you are taking out your best china and linens, go ahead and set the table the day before as well. Add a bouquet of flowers to the center to add a little flair.
Must Have Items
- Butter – plenty of it. It seems like everything you make and eat on Thanksgiving needs butter. Rolls, mashed potatoes, basting the turkey, cookies, dabbing on pie crust – you name it, it needs it.
- Wine – just enough. This is also an ingredient that may be used in number ways. Some baste their turkeys with it and some add a little to their gravy. A splash here or there never hurts anything. A sip or two will help you relax and not take things so seriously.
- Salt – lots. Everything needs salt. No need to list the items, everything savory to sweet will call for some amount of salt.
- Oven mitts – Thanksgiving requires the handling of several hot items. Don’t drop that beautifully browned turkey because the pan is too hot.
- A “real” roasting pan – This is not the time to use aluminum foil roasting pans just because they are easier to clean up. Try taking out a 20 lb. turkey in one and you will understand.
- Chicken broth – a few cans. If something needs flavor, add chicken broth. Instead of water, use it in your stuffing. If you need to make a roux for your gravy, use chicken broth instead of water or milk. You can even baste your turkey with it.
- Follow the instructions – I know it is tempting to turn up the heat because the turkey is not cooking fast enough but doing so will give you a dry bird on the outside and an undercooked bird on the inside.
- Stove top or oven cooked stuffing – Forget the tradition of stuffing the bird. First it adds too much precious cooking time and second it is not very sanitary as it is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Follow the directions for cooking in oven or stove.
- Chestnuts and pecans – Adding a half of cup of each to your stuffing will give it a delightful crunch and extra flavor your guests will enjoy.
- Turkey time – Allow your turkey to sit for 20 minutes after you remove it from the oven. To lock in moisture, lightly cover with foil but do not wrap tightly.
Finally, remember to enjoy the day. Chances are things will not turn out perfectly but the good thing is most people won’t notice or care. Indulge in the true meaning of the day – giving thanks for the things you do have and the people you get to share your life with. Happy Thanksgiving!