Did you know Thanksgiving is exactly 3 weeks from tomorrow? I just realized that the other day as I took a cooking class at Williams Sonoma regarding the often daunting day of feasting. Well, I am here to help you get through the most delicious day of the year, in my humble opinion. Here are a few things to think about to help make the big day stress free and absolutely delicious!
First of all, lets talk numbers: How many guests are coming over, how many of them are adults, how many children, how many woman and how many men? This will determine how many potatoes, bags of cranberries, oranges to zest, thyme to pick, pounds of turkey to order, cans of pumpkin to account for, and the amount of manpower that will be needed.
Secondly, lets talk birds: I always prefer fresh over frozen and always always always choose organic. Frozen turkeys are more readily available, and may be cheaper, but the 3 days it takes to defrost in your fridge tends to result in a drier turkey. That’s my personal preference and opinion, but always do what makes the most sense for you. With that being said, I would order a fresh bird as soon as you can. Some companies, like Williams Sonoma, even deliver fresh turkeys right to your door, which may be a nice option.
Thirdly, lets talk kitchen preparedness: If there is one thing I want to express the importance of, it’s preparing your kitchen before guests (and the turkey) arrive!
1. Room: You are going to need a lot of it! On the counter, in the fridge, in the pantry, in the oven, on the stove. Clear as much room as you possibly can to account for all of the people, bottles of cider and wine, and of course, food that will quickly take over.
2. Fridge: The fridge will quickly lose space, especially after your pumpkin pie and turkey make their way inside. Consolidate, eat and share until there is enough room for your menu.
3. Serviceware: Take inventory of every utensil that will be needed. How many tongs, serving spoons, hot pads, bowls, platters, wine glasses, napkins, place settings, etc. will you need? Locate your carving knife and fork, carving board, cooking or butcher twine, and any other tools you will need. Re-wash or shine anything that needs a touch-up from last year, and set everything to the side so you are ready to go. The last thing you want to do on Thursday is anything besides cooking. So let Thursday be enjoyable for everyone, and yes, you included. If you are missing something, ask a friend or relative if you can borrow it. I recommend going into the day with everything you need so you aren’t relying on anyone to remember an extra item to bring.
4. Cookware: I like to write down every dish that I am making and create an equipment list based off of each dish. For example, to make my mashed potatoes, I am going to need a large pot, potato ricer, strainer, small pot to heat the butter and cream, and a serving platter and serving spoon. Oh, and how am I going to keep it warm? Add that too! Locate and set to the side your roasting pan, roasting wrack, and any pots, pans or casserole dishes you may need. This is one way to ensure you have everything you need and have time to account for those you don’t.
5. Meat Thermometer: Make sure your meat thermometer is calibrated properly so your turkey is perfectly cooked. If it isn’t, or you’re not sure, you can re-calibrate it according to product instructions.
6. Decorations: It’s never too early to set the table and bring out the pumpkins and fall harvest decorations. My mom always sets the table at least 1 – 2 weeks before so she can check it off her list. Another item to consider is your inventory of tea lights. I adorn my table with an abundance of Glassybabies, which come in 100’s of colors including warm hues perfect for fall. Plus, Glassybaby donates a portion of each sale to different charities across the country. Now, how is that for being thankful and grateful this Thanksgiving season! Once the table is set, the only thing left is fresh flowers which can be bought the day before.
I find that going into Thanksgiving with a plan is the only way to have a successful gathering. And at the end of the day, we all want to enjoy the meal as we gather around the table together.
Next Wednesday, I will be back with more great tips and ideas, including an ultimate thanksgiving-shopping guide to help in executing a smooth and outstanding Thanksgiving celebration around The Table Together!
Cheers to starting a new tradition at home!
Founder and true believer in the power of bringing people around The Table Together!