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Thanksgiving Planner I

It is now time for me to deal with Thanksgiving, since I really have only two weeks to plan, shop and do “trial runs” of recipes. I am cooking the entire dinner for 8 people: My parents, my little family of three, a friend of the family, and the young couple across the street from my parents. (They have a one-year-old, but he won’t eat much). I am serving at my parents’ house, which further complicates things, because the turkey will have to cook there, and I’ll have to do all “finish cooking” there, as well.

Here’s the menu:

  1. Brined, Roasted, Organic, Free-Range Turkey. Its a 22-pounder (I like LOTS of leftovers to send home with people and to cook with), its been ordered, and I’ll get it the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I’ll be using this recipe.
  2. Stuffing/Dressing. This will be as simple as possible, but from scratch. No fancy stuff, just bread, herbs, celery, onions and good broth. There’s actually a pretty good recipe on the Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix bag. I do not stuff the bird, by the way; it grosses me out.
  3. Gravy. I’ll be making pan gravy while the turkey rests; I just haven’t decided between Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s “slurry” method and Alton Brown’s “roux” method. I’m leading towards the roux at the moment. Shortcut: in a perfect world, I would make the broth for the gravy out of the turkey “innards.” I don;t feel like it, and I’m going to use good quality organic chicken broth, instead.
  4. Cranberry Sauce. I make this kind, which I’ve made ever since I made vats of it when I was catering a November wedding years ago.
  5. Mashed White Potatoes. I will try this recipe, which looks delicious and specifically says it can be prepared in advance and re-warmed on Turkey Day. I am certainly capable of making mashed potatoes sans recipe, but these sound sort of delicious and decadent.
  6. Sweet Potatoes. this is another Keep it Simple. I’ll just serve them steamed, sliced and cooked on top of the stove in some butter and (real) maple syrup.
  7. Green Beans with Cashews. This is a Silver Palate recipe, tasty, simple, and familiar.
  8. Crumb-topped Blueberry Pie. Blueberry pie is the favorite of both my father and my husband, and they both prefer a crumb topping. I like the looks of this one.
  9. Pumpkin-Pecan Pie. This is a compromise; we all feel that we should have a pumpkin pie, but we all really like pecan pie better. I think I’ll make this one without the Whiskey Butter Sauce. I’ll have whipped cream and vanilla ice cream on hand for topping pie. Shortcut: I can make pie crust, but it isn’t my best thing, and its stressful for me. I’m going straight for the Pillsbury refrigerated crusts.
  10. Cheese and crackers, dinner beverages, and after dinner coffee, as well as table setting and centerpieces will be done by my parents.

Here’s the plan:

Saturday, 11/17 Buy all non-perishables

Tuesday, 11/20

  1. Buy fresh produce
  2. Make Cranberry Sauce; store in serving bowl

Wednesday 11/21

  1. Wash and prep produce
  2. Make Mashed Potatoes and refrigerate in crockpot liner
  3. Steam and slice sweet potatoes
  4. Assemble stuffing and store in fridge
  5. Bake pies.
  6. Brine turkey (starting about 24 hours before cooking time starts)

Thursday, 11/22 TURKEY DAY

  1. 10:30 Remove turkey from brine, rinse thoroughly and pack for moving
  2. 11:30 Transport turkey (and all other food) to mom & dad’s house, and start roasting at about 12:00 for a 5:00 dinner. At 22 pounds, it needs to roast for about 3 hours and 40 minutes (10-12 minutes per pound) and rest for at least 30 minutes, then it has to be carved, so I think noon will do it, with a little leeway.
  3. 12:00 ish Plug in crockpot of mashed potatoes and set to “warm”
  4. 4:00 Bring stuffing to room temperature during last 30 minutes of turkey cooking time; Make sweet potatoes and green beans on stove top and lower to “warm.”
  5. 4:30 Check turkey temp; if done, remove from oven and tent with foil to “rest”; make gravy, warm stuffing in oven
  6. 5:00 Put dinner on the table; lower oven temperature and put pies in to warm. Edited to Add: My dad will carve, and I’ll have at least 15 more minutes here to plate and serve gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes and green beans.
  7. 6:00 ish. Whip cream for pies while someone else serves coffee.

About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

8 responses »

  1. Ah, Annie, I can’t believe that you cheat on pie crusts, but I’m glad to see you cheat on SOMETHING!

  2. Oh, believe me, Barbara, I’m not that innocent – I cheat constantly, in many ways, but when I blog I wish to appear sophisticated and virtuous. 🙂

  3. wow! you’re so organized! here’s my plan of action:

    wednesday (the day before)

    make pies

    thursday (thanksgiving)

    start cooking in the morning, when it’s done, put it on the table


  4. jayedee, that is probably a less compulsive approach, but I am so busy with other life stuff right now that I have to break Thanksgiving down into manageable parts. Also, we’re invited to a Thanksgiving morning family soccer game, and I want to be on top of things so that I can go burn some of the 200,000 calories I will consume later. Is that possible?

  5. i would love to be as organized as you, but, alas, i am soooo not! lists make me feel guilty and inadequate, so i tend to not keep them (‘cept the one for the grocery store) but then i feel guilty and inadequate when i don’t get things done in an orderly fashion too! c’est la vie, i guess lol

  6. feels good to get the schedule set, doesn’t it! I like to make the same sort of list, although this year we are on a mini vacation until Wednesday, so I have not sorted out how I will get my shopping done! I will be making pies for our T-Day, pumpkin, pecan, quince and probably a chocolate cranberry bread pudding from Alice Medrich’s Chocolate Holidays (for a change of pace). Since we are traveling, I think I will use the same crust trick you do, although I have also been known to use the frozen crusts from Nancy’s.

    Happy Thanksgiving, your dinner sounds great!

  7. jayedee, I envy your spontanaeity (seriously) but I have to have a plan or breathe into a bag. I feel guilty and inadequate just because I woke up, so I start from behind, here. 🙂

    Gudrun, I think the mini vacation is probably more important than the plan. You’ll have more energy to take things on when you return. I’ve always wanted/meant to look at Alice Medrich’s recipes – you like them? As for the pie crust, either plan sounds good. Who knows; you may return from vacation with great energy and zeal for rolling dough! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, too!!

  8. Pingback: Low-key Tur-key « Forest Street Kitchen

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