8 Days until the big Thanksgiving Feast . . . are you ready?
Yes, Thanksgiving is right around the corner-but don’t panic! Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter will help you have the Best Thanksgiving Ever. A stress-free day filled with family, friends, and great food. How, you ask? With tips on planning for the big day as well as step-by-step guide on cooking the perfect turkey.
So exhale and let’s get down to business!
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5 Tips for a Stress-free
1. Plan Your Thanksgiving Menu Early: Are you serving turkey, chicken, or goose? Will there be wine or your special holiday punch? Now is the time to plan your Thanksgiving menu; from soup to nuts. Once you’ve planned your menu you can pull out your recipes and check your cabinets to see what you have in stock and what you’ll need to buy. Write out your shopping list, listing everything you need, and you won’t have to worry about those last minute trips to the store spoiling Thanksgiving Day.
2. Shop Now: Now that you have your grocery list in hand it’s time to head to the grocery store. Buy your non-perishables now and save yourself time later, not to mention you will be able to take advantage of the pre-holiday sales, avoid the long lines and the lack of parking spots. When I shop I keep like items together in my shopping cart so that they are together during checkout and get bagged together as well. Once you get your groceries home, leave them bagged and simply set them aside until you’re ready for them. All you have left to buy are your perishable items and you can purchase them as much as a week out.
3. Cook Now, Relax Later: Decide on the dishes that can be cooked ahead of time and either stored in the refrigerator or frozen until right before Thanksgiving. For example, can you make the cornbread for your cornbread stuffing now and freeze it until you’re ready for it? What about the cranberry relish, collard greens, and sweet potato pies? Cook and store as many of the items from your menu as possible and defrost them the day before Thanksgiving. This tip will definitely save you time and make cooking your holiday meal more relaxed.
4. Get Organized: Now that you have your menu planned, your recipes pulled, have shopped for your non-perishables items, and even precooked some of your dishes; it’s time to decide on your table decor. Go ahead and pull your favorite holiday tablecloth, place mats, and napkins. Make sure that they don’t have any holes or stains and have them laundered and ironed. If you’re using your ‘special occasion’ dishes, flatware, and stemware go ahead and get them out of storage, counted, and wiped down. Doing this now will guarantee you the table of your dreams without the usual holiday stress.
5. Ask For Help: Thanksgiving Day is finally here and it’s time to enlist some help with the finishing touches. Ask someone to set the table. Since the linen is ironed and the dishes counted, this should be an easy task. Someone else can pour the drinks or plate the salads. If you’ve invited guests to share your meal, don’t be shy about asking them to bring a dish to share as well. It’s always nice to have an extra appetizer or dessert or a nice bottle of wine.
How to Cook the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey!
The temperature in your oven has to be accurate.
You might want to test your oven before the big day by simply preheating it to 250° and testing it with a cooking thermometer. Start your turkey out uncovered in a 425*F oven for 30 minutes. Cover the breast with aluminum foil and drop the temperature down to 325*F for the remainder of the cooking time. This is guarantees a turkey that is crisp outside and juicy inside.
Your turkey has been safely and totally thawed and cleaned.
The only safe way to thaw a frozen turkey is to place it in the refrigerator. Other methods such as running cold water over it or placing it in a microwave oven are not safe because of the chance of bacterial growth and food borne illness. So place your frozen bird in the refrigerator at least 2 days before the big day.
Be sure to remove the neck and giblets from the inside of the turkey!
Don’t laugh! People do this all the time, so check both the top AND the bottom of your turkey for them. There is nothing quite as anti-climactic is carving the Thanksgiving turkey and having the bag of giblets pop out.
Know the actual weight of the turkey.
Knowing this number guarantees that you cook your turkey the right amount of time and end up with a turkey that’s golden brown, juicy, and delicious. It also helps plan the timing of your side dishes as well. A good rule of thumb to figure out when to start cooking your Thanksgiving turkey is to back track from the time you want to have it on the table.
Add your dressing last.
Stuff your turkey with dressing once the turkey is totally done and has an internal cooking temperature of 165*F.
NEVER stuff a raw turkey-the dressing will absorb the turkey’s uncooked blood and juices and can lead to food borne illness.
You’ve Done It!
Planned the perfect menu, set a beautiful table, and cooked your Thanksgiving meal to perfection. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor-all without the usual stresses associated with the holidays.
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!