So you’re responsible for the family Thanksgiving dinner this year.
According to Food & Wine magazine, if you haven’t already started planning and prepping, you’re probably already behind.
According to Food & Wine’s website. you should have already finalized your guest list, cleaned out your freezer, planned the menu, made sure you have enough good pots and pans and (presentable) baking dishes, enough (presentable) place settings of dinnerware, silverware and glassware, serving pieces, ordered your turkey, made a grocery list and prepared and frozen your turkey stock and gravy – by last Thursday.
OK, so Food & Wine assumes you'll be doing Thanksgiving from scratch. And we all know what happens when you assume.
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Seriously, Thanksgiving is next week. If you haven’t already, you probably should go ahead and buy your turkey. You decide if you want fresh or frozen, grocery-store or local, organically raised. Just keep in mind that a frozen turkey takes about 24 hours per every 4 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator (2 1/2 days for a 10-pound turkey), so you need to plan accordingly.
Things to do by Saturday:
▪ Shop for beer and wine and check to see which store has sodas on sale. You can ask the fine folks at your nearest wine shop what will pair best with Auntie’s green bean casserole.
▪ Plan table decor. Do you need to throw the tablecloth and runner in the wash or iron out the wrinkles? Will the kids be in charge of the centerpiece?
▪ Make sure you have your recipes. No one needs to guess whether it was 2 cups of flour or 3 in that cake (probably 2), so pick your recipes and put them where you can find them.
▪ Clean out the refrigerator to free up space for that turkey you might need to thaw. If you’re going to brine the turkey, make sure you have a plastic container big enough to hold it and refrigerator space to hold it.
Thanksgiving week (T-Day minus 5):
Saturday or Sunday: Pick up turkey and other items on your shopping list. Make sure you have enough aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and you’ve got lids for or have replaced those plastic food containers.
Monday: Begin defrosting that frozen turkey! Make the brine and refrigerate it. Double check to make sure you have enough pans and casserole dishes. Bonus points if you know what’s going into which one.
Tuesday: Start prepping side dishes, sauces, gravies, soups and desserts. Make a batch of biscuit dough, shape the biscuits and freeze dough until Thursday. Most desserts (cakes and pies) can be made, frosted and held, wrapped tight or under a dome, at room temperature for two days. Clean your house.
Next Wednesday: Put the turkey in the brine (if you’re brining). Really, clean your house! Do make-ahead sides (roasted vegetables like potatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, etc) and anything else that needs oven time and can be made ahead and reheated. Set the table.
Next Thursday: Preheat the oven. (You’d be surprised how many folks forget to do this.) Allow 2 to 4 hours to roast the turkey and 30 minutes for it to rest when it comes out of the oven. Chill the drinks. Make sure you’ve made/bought enough sweet tea. Don’t forget the rolls or biscuits. Toss and dress the salad. Make the dressing (or stuffing, if you insist). Reheat the casseroles, soups and gravy. Pour yourself a beverage. Exhale.
Or, scratch all that and order out…
Foolproof Roasted Vegetables
1 pound of fresh vegetables of your choice: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Wash and trim vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces.
In a 13-by-9-inch baking dish or on a sheet pan, place prepared vegetables, garlic, butter and oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Place in oven and roast 20 to 30 minutes, until vegetables start to soften and brown. Vegetables can be roasted up to two days ahead and reheated.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.