Ask The Chef
Like many people Thanksgiving means serving dinner for a crowd (14+ people) and entertaining weekend guests. We look forward to it every year, but it takes planning and organization for it to be relaxed and fun.
Here are 25+ ways to prepare for Thanksgiving during the next few weeks:
- Start perusing your cookbooks, magazines and online recipe sources to get ideas for your dinner menu.
- Select your favorite recipes.
- If choosing a fresh turkey — versus a frozen one — order it about now. (If you live in a more rural area, you may need to order even earlier, so order ASAP.)
- Assign special dishes for friends or relatives to bring.
- Order or purchase liquor and wine.
- Group recipes that can be made in advance. Consult the recipe. Breads, rolls and many desserts often fit this category.
- Make a list of all ingredients and purchase ingredients for dishes that are being prepared ahead and frozen.
- Make cranberry relish.
- Make and freeze rolls and breads.
- Make and freeze pie dough.
- Make and freeze a casserole or lasagna for weekend guests.
One week before
- Clean out refrigerator and make room for extra food.
The following is a checklist of important household items related to Thanksgiving dinner and guests:
hors d'oeuvres napkins and plates
ice and bucket
turkey skewer or trussing needle
2-cup fat separator
Three days before
- If cooking a frozen turkey, start thawing in refrigerator.
- Choose table linens/napkins and iron them.
- Shop for remaining fresh ingredients.
Two days before
· Pick up fresh turkey
· Clean platters, silver and glassware
· Make room on the kitchen counters
· Rearrange dining room and other furniture as needed
· Make any appetizers that can be prepared ahead of time
· Pick up flowers and make a centerpiece
One day before
- Set the table.
- Defrost pie dough and make pies.
- Chill beverages.
- Prep, wash, chop and store all ingredients that will be prepared the next day.
- Cook and store all food that can be prepared one day in advance i.e. squash, potatoes.
- Make or buy extra ice for beverages.
- Get out and line bread baskets.
- Thaw rolls and breads.
First thing in the morning:
At least four hours before dinner:
· Prepare your turkey for the oven
· Pre-heat oven
· Place turkey in oven
· Serve light hors d'oeuvres and beverages when guests arrive
· Baste turkey frequently
· Place uncooked vegetables in saucepans
· Take cooked side dishes out of the refrigerator
· Check turkey with thermometer
One hour prior to serving:
- Take the turkey out of oven
- Make gravy
- Cook vegetables
- Uncork red wines
- Fill water glasses with ice
- Recruit guests and assign tasks
Remember, this should be a relaxing holiday for everyone — including the cook!