It’s almost Thanksgiving again, with delicious food and wonderful aromas all around. This is a great time in the kitchen to have fun and be creative.
First let’s get organized:
- Are you serving the meal at your house or going out for it? Or are you going to somebody else’s house?
- What will you serve or bring?
- How many people do will you feed?
If you are going out, then you have very little to do.
Going to relatives or friends house means you can offer to bring something. Appetizers and desserts are usually the best things to offer and they are fun to make. Just make sure to be early if you are bringing appetizers.
Basic/traditional plan for Thanksgiving should include the following:
- Roast Turkey
- Mashed potatoes
- Cranberry sauce
- Vegetable – traditionally one or more of: corn, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, squash or green beans
- Pumpkin pie for dessert
That is the basics and most people will be happy as you covered the bases.
Now you can add to it based on your liking and creativity.
The following often find their way to the Thanksgiving table:
- Vegetables and dip
- Shrimp cocktail
- Olive and cheese tray
- Creamed onions
- Creamed spinach
- Candied yams
- Glazed carrots
- Acorn squash
- Corn bread
- Apple pie
- Pecan pie
- Sweet potato pie
A few tips to heed for success:
- Don’t run out of food, and by food I mean: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and stuffing. Basically the traditional group. You don’t need one turkey per person but 1.5lb raw whole turkey per person (2lb with leftovers) and ¾ lb potatoes per person. This is a relatively budget friendly meal so err on the plus side, besides, who doesn’t love leftovers.
- Plan! Go over your game plan several days before so you are not trying to roast a frozen 20lb turkey 2 hours before dinner.
- And about timing – make sure you get the food served on time. If you plan on 3 pm dinner and invite your guests with that in mind, have the food on the table at 3. It will not matter how great the food looks or tastes if it comes out at 4.30 when everyone is bombed, nobody will remember the food at that point.
- As we are talking about drinking and cocktails – this is a big meal which usually means guests don’t usually get too tipsy. Do have plenty of water and non alcoholic drinks. If there is a delay with the food, make sure there are snacks for guests to consume with the drinks. Beer and wine is usually fine through the meal.
- Talking about appetizers – steer away from overly heavy, spicy, fried stuff and bread. The meal will be big and heavy in itself.
- It’s fun to be creative in the kitchen and come up with exciting new things, try new recipes but be careful here. Stick with some basics and add a few interesting sides. Chances are the grilled chocolate covered turkey with kimchi may not go over well with everyone.
- How many people and who? Any allergies or diet restrictions?
- If somebody has dietary restrictions it may be wise to either prepare a separate meal the day before to heat up or order special from a restaurant.
- Basic scenario, mixed group of 10: 15-20lb turkey, 2X 5lb bags potatoes, 2 jars cranberry sauce, 10X15 pan of stuffing, 5 cups gravy, 3lb green beans, 3 lb sweet potatoes, 2 lb carrots, 1 9”pumpkin pie and 1 9” apple pie. Multiply or divide this scenario depending on the size of your group.
- Add any interesting, fun and creative things to the basic menu. If you delete some of the basic menu due to preference, replace it with equal amount of something else.
- Turkey takes about 15 minutes/lb to cook at 350 degrees, 20 minutes/lb stuffed. A 20 lb turkey will take about 5 hours to cook, 30 minutes to rest and 20 minutes to carve and serve. This means it needs to go into a preheated oven at 9am for 3pm dinner. Turkeys over 25lbs may not fit in a standard oven.
- It is easier to do 2 X 15 lb turkeys then 1 X 30 lb and there will be extra drumsticks. If carving tableside, it is good to do a smaller for the display carving and a larger one that is ready and sliced in the kitchen to ensure everyone gets served quickly.
- Brined turkey is great, juicy and flavorful. It does take planning and should brine overnight. If it is not possible to fit into the refrigerator, place in a plastic bag with brine in a cooler and cover with enough icecubes to keep cool overnignt. You can freeze larger blocks of ice beforehand for this use.
- Mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, glazed sweet potatoes, creamed vegetables and many other items are heavy. It is good to offset it with raw vegetables, shrimp and olives for appetizer and a salad option with dinner.
And lets just end it with little drink recipe:
So I was thinking about a catchy name …but I couldn’t come up with a really great one, I mean Turkey blood does not really sound like the crowds will be running for it.
Lets go with Happy Thanksgiving in case it is not taken, or perhaps somebody will come up with better name. Light and festive.
1 Tablespoon Cointreau
2 Tablespoons cranberry juice
3 Tablespoons Cranberry infused gin (or vodka) Steep 30 cranberries with a hole poked in them for 3 days in gin or vodka.
½ teaspoon of lemonjuice
1/3 cup sparkling wine
1 icecube and garnish with a rosemary twig