Thanksgiving dinner helpful hints
In a few short weeks it will be Thanksgiving. One of my favorite holidays. Family, food, friends! It doesn’t get much better than that for me.
I have had a few clients asking about what I do to make it go easier. Specifically, what things I make ahead and what I cook the day of and when. It is different for everyone and my suggestions are only what has worked well for me in the past, and what works for us and our schedule.
What to make ahead of time?
I always make my pies and or desserts ahead of time. I find that the cranberry relish (if made fresh) is best with more time to sit and the flavors to meld.
I also cook my turkey the day before.
Now, I have a few caveats. I brine my turkey the night before I cook it. (I LOVE Alton Brown’s recipe and this is the one I use with great success.) The brining really makes a difference in the moisture of the breast meat. This year we will try smoking it (after brining). But in years past I have just roasted the turkey on evening before, cut it up and put it back in a roasting pan, drizzled some chicken broth on top to keep moist and covered tightly with foil. On Thanksgiving I simply heat the pan of turkey in the oven on a low temp.
It has worked really well and took a lot of worry about if the turkey will be done by the time we want to have dinner out of the day. No more getting up early to start the turkey to eat earlier. The turkey is cooked, just needs to be warmed up. No more turkey carcass or mess in the kitchen. (I have an open kitchen design and it’s not pretty with all that around and visible).
What can I make early?
I usually create my casseroles early and just keep them in the refrigerator until I am ready to cook them. They will need more time and are best if they come to room temperature first before cooking. That is another way to keep the mess limited in my open kitchen.
Gotta have them. But oh the mess. And to keep them warm long enough to serve?!?
Enter the magical crock pot and crock pot liners. I put a little water (1 cup) in the crock, place the liner on top of the water to create a water bath and load the prepared mashed potatoes into the crockpot. Turn it on warm setting (if you have that) and you should avoid most burning and crispy edges that can develop if you don’t use a crock pot liner. I also add a little more milk and butter to the potatoes when I am using this method. I usually prepare the potatoes about an hour or so before dinner. That gives me time to clean up the mess of pots, mixers, etc., and still have warm mashed potatoes!
Now if I could just master the gravy!!! Any help there would be greatly appreciated.