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T-Minus Turkey

Screenshot 2016-10-28 20.32.03

Ahhh!!!  Thanksgiving.

A day we pause and give thanks to all the blessings we have in life.

A day to reflect on all the things we are thankful for.

A day that can drive any hostess to drink.

So—let’s try and put the “Thank” back into Thanksgiving.

Goal:  The only food needing preparation this November 24th will be the turkey.  Everything else is finished and simply has to be warmed up before serving.

Let’s GO!!

Hostess not Hostress

  • Use foil-disposable tins whenever possible during preparation

        (Any dollar store has them for—you got it---a dollar)

  • Rent plates, wine glasses and even tablecloths.  They are oddly inexpensive and do not need to be washed before returning them.  You simply place them back in the bins they provide upon delivery.  My research revealed that a typical plate rents for .40 cents.  Wine glasses are the same.  So, a party of 15 people would look like this:

15 dinner plates: $6.00

15 salad plates:  $6.00

15 wine glasses:  $6.00

Tablecloth: $10 each

Total:  $28.00 plus tax and delivery

****SO WORTH IT****

T-Minus 21 Days

Meaning---NOW

  • Delegate:  Don’t be a martyr. If Aunt Susie wants to bring the pies—let her.  If Uncle Ted is such an expert on wines—he can feel free to bring a few bottles and enlighten all of you. Tell a family member to bring the ice/cornbread or dinner rolls.
  • Go to the grocery store as early as you can to avoid crowds and insure you get all you need
  • Buy all non-perishables, frozen items, spices and dairy that won’t expire
  • Cranberries
  • Marshmallows
  • Pecans
  • Sugars
  • Flour
  • Pie Crusts
  • Dry ingredients for stuffing
  • Salt/pepper/thyme/sage/parsley/cinnamon/nutmeg/clove/ginger/allspice
  • Eggs
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Butter
  • Heavy whipping cream (check expiration date)
  • Frozen corn
  • Frozen spinach
  • Panko or breadcrumbs
  • Turkey/beef and chicken stock
  • Tins
  • Hellman’s Mayonnaise
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Garbage bags/paper towels/toilet paper
  • Cooking spray
  • Whip cream
  • Maple syrup for sweet potatoes
  • Coffee/creamer/sugar/sweetener
  • Rent plates, etcetera if going this route—if not, buy paper plates or dig out the plates/glasses/silverware/napkins/tablecloths/platters that you plan to use
  • Buy your frozen turkey if you have the freezer space
  • Buy pop or tea or lemonade
  • Buy wine/beer/alcohol/washes
  • Decide on a centerpiece (pumpkins and gourds always work)
  • Get headcount

T-Minus 7 Days

  • Buy root vegetables:  sweet and regular potatoes
  • If you are preparing a turkey that is over 18 pounds you will need to defrost it in the fridge for 5 days.  So, if you have purchased a large turkey begin the defrost.  If you have not made this purchase you should do so today.
  • If you’re dinner table is in a separate room and you have not rented your dishes—SET THE DANG TABLE!! You can invert the wineglasses if you wish.  Get this task done as soon as you can.
  • Consider making a pretty napkin ring—we can discuss this later
  • Make your cranberry relish (it is good for at least a week)

T-Minus 4 days (Sunday)

  • Clean your house
  • Stock bathrooms with toilet paper
  • Place your frozen turkey (18 pounds or under) in the fridge to defrost
  • Set that table if you didn’t do it earlier.  Even if you rented the plates, etc...you can still get most of it prepped
  • Place frozen pie sheets in the fridge to defrost
  • Set up the bar area
  • Get remaining groceries  
  • Celery/onions/garlic
  • Fresh parsley, thyme and sage
  • Fresh spinach (1 pound)
  • Gruyere or Swiss cheese (1 pound)
  • Oranges (for turkey)/lemons/limes
  • Bread for stuffing if you are going that path
  • Salad ingredients (I think salad is a waste at this meal, but you make the call)
  • 6 turkey thighs or wings for gravy

 

T-Minus 2 days (Tuesday)

  • Make Pumpkin pies and refrigerate (I follow the recipe on the can)
  • Make sweet potatoes (recipe follows)
  • Make mashed potatoes (recipe follows)
  • Make spinach gratin (recipe follows)
  • Make gravy (recipe follows)
  • Make bread stuffing (recipe follows)
  • Prep your bird for baking on Thursday
  • Make a to-do list so you don’t forget anything and don’t stress that you are forgetting something

Here we go!!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows

Thanksgiving-sweetpotfoodandwine.com

 

10 sweet potatoes

Vegetable Oil to rub on potatoes

1/3 cup Maple Syrup

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 stick of butter, melted

3 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Stab the sweet potatoes with a fork 4 or 5 times.

Rub some oil on them

Place them on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake for about an hour

Remove from oven and when they are cool enough to touch, but not completelycooled slice them in half vertically

Scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl.  Scoop out the flesh from the 2 extra sweet potatoes

Place the shells on a wire rack and put back in the oven for about 10 minutes to firm them up

Add the maple syrup, butter and cinnamon to the bowl of flesh and mix with a masher or beater

Fill the shells with this mixture

REFRIGERATE AT THIS POINT

Thanksgiving Day: remove the potatoes from the fridge and allow to come to room temp.

Top the potatoes with marshmallows and pecans

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and broil them for about a minute to get the marshmallows browned

 

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Thaksgiving-gravy-skinnykitchen.com

6-8 turkey thighs or wings

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

10 cups of turkey stock or chicken stock

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Place turkey parts, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and herbs in a tin roasting pan (so you can throw it away when you are done)

Roast for about and hour to hour and a half (don’t fret on this)

Place the cooked turkey parts in a large saucepan or Dutch oven and add the stock.  Toss in a bay leaf if you have one

Bring it to a boil and skim the surface if needed

Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for a solid hour

Strain the turkey and solid parts so you only have the liquid remaining.

Let it sit so the fat rises to the top

Take about one half cup of the fat and place it in a pan (if you don’t have enough add a few Tablespoons of butter )

Add the flour and whisk vigorously for 5 to 7 minutes to make a roux and breakdown the flour so it won’t create lumpy gravy

Slowly incorporate the turkey stock you prepared with the flour mixture, whisking aggressively

Simmer until it thickens

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate (you can also freeze it for a month)

Thanksgiving Day: warm in a pan and adjust salt and pepper taste

 

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Thanksgiving-mashed-harrysfresh.com

5 pounds potatoes (some people prefer Yukon Gold)

3 cups heavy cream, hot

8 Tablespoons butter, melted

Salt

Dried or fresh parsley (optional)

 Preheat oven to 450 degrees

***These potatoes will see a little loose, but they firm up after refrigeration

Pierce the potatoes and microwave all of them for 15 minutes.  Put the potatoes directly on your oven rack and bake about 30 to 40 minutes.

Using a towel to hold the potatoes pull out the flesh and discard the skins.

Working in batches, beat the potatoes on a high speed.  Scraping so you don’t have lumps.

Slowly ship in the hot cream and butter.  Salt to taste (remember potatoes need a good amount of salt)

Place the whipped potatoes in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap very tightly.

Thanksgiving Day:—poke a few holes in the plastic wrap and microwave for about 7 minutes---then stir them.  Cover them with the plastic again and microwave again for another 7 minutes.  Season accordingly. Feel free to add a little more melted butter if you want them to have a looser texture.

 

Simple Cranberries (with options)

Thanksgiving-cranberry-foodnetwork.com

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

½ tsp. salt

3 cups of cranberries

Put the sugar, water and salt in a saucepan and cook until dissolved.  Add the cranberries and cook until about two0thirds of them pop open.  Let cool and refrigerate for up to a week.

Option:  Add the zest of an orange to the sugar water and 1 Tablespoon of Triple Sec

Option 2:  Add a teaspoon of ginger and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon into the sugar water. Stir in 1 cup of chopped, peeled pears or apples.

 

Spinach Gratin (abandon the Green Beans—please)

Serves about 8 to 10

thanksgiving-spinach-cookscountry.com

2 slices of white bread torn into pieces

1 stick of butter, melted

2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese or Gruyere

1 onion chopped

6 cloves of garlic finely minced

3 Tablespoons of flour

4 cups of half-and-half

8 ounces of chopped fresh spinach, stems removed

1 Tbs.  Dijon mustard

Couple of dashes of nutmeg

2-10 ounce boxes of frozen spinach---thawed and squeezed of water really well!!  Try and find whole leaf spinach so it won’t be stringy

½ cup chopped parsley

Zest of one lemon

Pulse the bread in a processor until it is fine.  Mix the bread with 3 Tablespoons of the melted butter, ½ cup cheese, salt and pepper.  Set aside and put this bread mixture in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.  Refrigerate.

Cook the chopped onion in the remaining butter and lightly fry the garlic for about 30 seconds to a minute. 

Stir in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes.

Slowly whisk in the half and half and bring to a simmer.  Let this simmer for about 10 minutes until it is thickened and reduced slightly. 

Stir in the curly leaf spinach and allow to wilt.  This will take about a minute.

Remove from the heat and add the Dijon, nutmeg, salt, pepper remaining cheese. 

Stir in the frozen spinach and place in a 9 by 13 pan.

Refrigerate.

On Thanksgiving:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Bake the gratin for 20 minutes.

Grab that breadcrumb mixture and sprinkle it on top of the spinach evenly.

Sprinkle the parsley and lemon zest along the top.

Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until bubbly and the breadcrumbs get golden.

 

Corn

Thanksgiving-corn-barbarabakes.com

I like to keep this basic.

Put a large bag of frozen corn in a colander inside a bowl. 

Chop some parsley (optional) and place on top.

Cover and refrigerate.

Thanksgiving Day: place the corn in a microwave safe bowl.  Add a stick of butter, salt, pepper and microwave for 5 minutes---done.

 

Bread Stuffing

thanksgiving-stuffing-amish365.com

¾ cup butter

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

15 slices of white bread cubed

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. dried thyme

½ tsp. dried sage

½ tsp. dried parsley

½ tsp. pepper

Melt the butter in a pan and cook the onions and celery until softened.

Mix the onion-celery mixture with the cubed bread, thyme, sage, parsley, salt and pepper.

Place this mixture in a greased casserole dish.  Cover with foil and refrigerate.

Thanksgiving Day:  Bring the stuffing to room temperature.  Keep it covered and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

 

 

T-Minus Zero Days

Thanksgiving countdown

The Countdown is OVER------

This is based on a 12 to 14-pound turkey, which serves about 10 people generously. 

Larger turkeys tend to be less moist, so I suggest cooking 2 small turkeys in lieu of one massive turkey.  You can cook both in the oven at the same time.  Just allow space for circulation.  This will not affect the cooking time. 

What do you need and why?

 

Turkey (obviously) I prefer a thawed, enhanced turkey.  If you buy a fresh turkey you should brine it.

Wine (for your drinking pleasure)

Fresh herbs are your best bet, but you can use dried:  thyme, sage, parsley 1 Tablespoon of each fresh herbs, one teaspoon of each if dried).

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon of each of the following: pepper, garlic powder, paprika

1/3-cup mayonnaise (this will make the turkey moist and give it a nice golden color)

4 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

2 cups chicken stock

2 oranges

Let’s go over some basics: 

Calculate your time frame:  If you plan to eat at 2pm the turkey should be in the oven no later than 10:00 am.  Eating at 6pm then you should have it in the oven by 2pm. 

***The prep for the turkey will take an hour so take that into consideration. 

Discard the giblets and whatever else is tucked inside that turkey.

Rinse it out and off and wipe it dry with a paper towel.

Place a wire rack inside a large roasting tin.

Tuck the wings under the turkey and place on top of the rack.

Now---pull the legs upward and slide a metal skewer under the bone of the fattest part of the drumstick all the way through to the other drumstick. 

MAKE SURE YOU SKEWER THE LEGS!!!  This will allow the white meat and dark meat to cook at the same rate.

Cut the oranges and squeeze on top of the turkey and in the cavity.  The oranges will help breakdown the meat so it is ultra moist.  If you can slide you hand under the skin and squeeze the oranges directly on the breast that would be a bonus.

Mix together the thyme, parsley, sage, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.

Rub half of this mixture all over the turkey.

Let the turkey sit for about an hour to get to room temperature.

Mix together the mayonnaise, olive oil, cider vinegar and the remaining herbs.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Brush half of the mayo mixture over the surface of the bird.

Place a piece of heavy-duty foil over the breast.  Tuck the foil into the cavity of the turkey.  Allow the foil to drape gently over the tops of the legs.

Pour the chicken stock into the bottom of the foil tin.

Bake at this temperature for 2 and ½ hours. 

REMOVE THE TURKEY FROM THE OVEN AT THIS POINT AND INCREASE THE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 425 DEGREES.

Remove the foil from the turkey and slather the remaining mayo mixture all over your coveted bird.

Return the turkey to the oven once it has reached 425 degrees.

Bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until your thermometer reads:

160 degrees for the breast

175 degrees for the drumsticks

Let the turkey sit for 30 to 45 minutes

*****While the turkey sits you can now warm up the sweet potatoes, gratin, corn and stuffing in the oven.  Warm the gravy on your stovetop and microwave the mashed potatoes.  Don’t forget to put out your cranberries.

Carve and you are good to go with your Thanksgiving Feast!!

 

Photo credits:  sweet potatoes: foodandwine.com; mashed potatoes: harrysfresh.com; corn: barbarabakes.com;  gravy: skinnykitchen.com;  gratin: cookscountry.com;  cranberries and turkey: foodnetwork.com;  stuffing: amish365.com; centerpiece: epicurious.com.