Tips for a Thanksgiving Dinner
By Chef Oliver Hale
Well here it is, that time of the year when families get together to eat some made up dishes, wear some of their favorite outfits, and cheer on their football team. No, it is not the Buckeyes vs Wolverines, it is THANKSGIVING.
Preparing the biggest meal of the year, Thanksgiving Dinner, can be a fun, non-stressful, and enjoyable time to spend in a kitchen. Here are some tips that I use to make it my best time of cooking:
1) Plan the menu one week in advance. Include traditional family favorites, but add one or two new dishes for variety.
I begin by planning my menu one week in advance to take advantage of specials and avoid crowded stores and long checkout lines. A last-minute trip to the store usually happens on Tuesday or Wednesday for special items since the bulk of my shopping is already done. Thanksgiving is a time for traditional family meals but I often like to include one or two new ones.
It’s the thrill of the hunt, and when I budget enough time on Sunday before Thanksgiving, it can be a satisfying experience that adds an extra element of fun.
2) Allow 3 to 4 days for a 20-pound turkey to thoroughly defrost in the refrigerator.
A spectacular meal doesn’t have to be assembled and cooked at the last minute. Some of my favorite recipes such as Southern Cornbread Dressing, Sweet Potato Casserole, Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie with Autumn Leaf Border, and homemade cranberry sauce may be made ahead and chilled for a day or two.
3) Rinse the turkey Thanksgiving morning, truss, and place it in the oven. Prepare remaining side dishes so everything is ready to pop into the oven or cook on the stove at the proper time.
4) Carve the turkey, pour the wine, and enjoy.
Again, a little advance planning can be very helpful. Decide ahead of time which baking containers you will need and make sure they all fit in the oven at the same time. If not, you may need to adjust your menu or the containers to accommodate the oven space you have available. If your kitchen has a single oven, adjust your recipe selection to dishes that may be prepared on top of the stove, or that can be slipped into the oven during the final 30 minutes while the turkey is resting on the counter before carving. Then call your guests. Dinner is ready!
Also scan supermarket ads to take advantage of sales and special offer. I hope these pointers are of help to you.