Thanksgiving Prep School | Tuesday's Tip of the Day!
As we near that time of year where we dust off our favorite serving dishes and adorn the dining room table with amber-hued candles and decorations, it’s also time to start planning your Thanksgiving feast! If you are still looking for a collection of recipes for Thanksgiving, make sure you visit the “recipe” tab at The Table Together for an entire collection of recipes perfect for sharing around The Table Together, like my super simple whole roasted turkey, sweet potatoes with roasted marshmallows and toasted pecans, and pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust (to name a few). For those of you on social media, “like” me @thetabletogether on Facebook and Instagram and I will share a fresh new recipes every day for one full week leading to T-Day!
Instead of allowing the menu planning, shopping and cooking overcome and consume you, focus your energy toward creating a plan including dates and times of each item that needs to be completed by T-Day. Simply put, follow your plan and come dinnertime, all components will come together and Thanksgiving dinner is served! So, how do we get there?
- Create a plan, also known as “production list:” First and foremost, it is absolutely critical that Thanksgiving is approached with a plan! To do this, simply write out a list of all items you plan on serving, including those items friends and family are bringing with them. Next, create a timeline for each item in terms of what they need to be completed. Whipping cream needs to be made and refrigerated. Turkey needs to be defrosted, brined (if applicable), cooked, rested, carved, served. Pie needs to be made, chilled overnight and served with whipping cream. Stuffing needs to be made, baked and rested. Mashed Potatoes need to be cooked, finished, re-heated. Etc… As you create your timeline, keep in mind that you have 1 oven, 4 burners and x workspace. Be realistic with what you can do at one time and possibly adjust your menu to accommodate. This game plan will also help you determine what you can do in advance to expedite time in the oven and precious real estate in the fridge. Start writing your production list now so you have time to simmer on it and make changes as needed – Yes, pun intended!
- Dig Deeper! Take your production list to the next level! For each dish and even the grocery shopping, write down all components from a labor standpoint to help allocate the appropriate amount of time for each task. For example, mashed potatoes: Scrub potatoes, peel potatoes, cube potatoes, cook potatoes, mash potatoes, heat milk, add milk & butter, season, re-heat. Next to each task, estimate how long it will take you to complete it, for example, 15 minutes to peel all the potatoes, 20 minutes to cook the potatoes, etc. Create a timetable from 0 minutes to mealtime. This will also help you determine when you should fire the potatoes, put the turkey in the oven, or remove the butter from the fridge. It also helps you gage when guests should arrive and when a second or third set of hands would be helpful.
- Prioritize your list! Now that you have a good understanding of how much time each item will take to complete, go back through your list and organize dishes by the amount of time that will be needed. For example, Turkey needs to come out of the fridge 1 1/2 hours before it goes in the oven and I need 30 minutes to season and truss the turkey before it cooks for 3 hours (depending on size of bird) and then rests for 30 minutes. If dinner is at 5:00, I need to pull the turkey out of the fridge at 11:30. Use your mealtime as a starting place and fill in all the different times action is needed for each dish starting with the items that will take the longest and going straight to dessert and coffee – P.S. don’t forget the sugar and cream!
- Don’t Forget the Accompaniments: Don’t forget the small details, like butter and jam for the rolls, sugar and cream for coffee, ice and lemon for the water, salt and pepper for the table, flowers, place cards, music, candles, extra trash bags, to-go containers, wine openers, cooking twine (to truss the turkey), etc.
- Stick to the schedule! Whatever you do, try your absolute best to stick to your schedule! Your production list is the key to success, and now that you have the key, you hold the power!
By having a plan and sticking with it, you will no doubt make cooking and hosting Thanksgiving a success while allowing ample time to gather around The Table Together!
P.S. have questions for hosting your first or 20th Thanksgiving? In need of recipe inspiration for a Thanksgiving potluck? I am available 24/7 at The Table Together.
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Cheers to starting a new tradition around The Table Together!
Founder and true believer in the power of bringing people around The Table Together!