This year I’m in charge of preparing our family Thanksgiving Dinner, and I found myself in a panic. What do I need to do first? I found something to ease my mind by creating a schedule and breaking everything down beforehand so that I am not rushed and frantic come Turkey Day! I think you’ll be amazed by these FABULOUS tips, but you need to get started NOW! Think of how great you’ll look when you are calm, cool and collected in front of your guests.
Thanksgiving, Frozen: A 6-Day Guide To What To Cook Ahead, And When
The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun. And for those of us who already feel short on time during a regular week, the pressure is on to figure out just how to squeeze in all that extra shopping, prep work and cooking ahead of the holiday.
image source: en.wikipedia.org
SATURDAY & SUNDAY
Defrost the turkey. A 20-pounder can take as long as five days to thaw out in the fridge. And you want to defrost it in the fridge, not at room temperature. The turkey should be fully defrosted the day before you roast it.
Go grocery shopping. Buy the hardier vegetables like squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, kale and garlic at the grocery store. These will keep well in the refrigerator until you cut them up on Wednesday. (See Tuesday for when to buy other vegetables.) Also buy nonperishable ingredients like crackers, jelly and any canned vegetables you plan to use.
Make and freeze your soups and/or gravy.
If you’re making your own pie, make the pie crusts, wrap them tightly in plastic and put them in the freezer.
Make a Thanksgiving playlist with Spotify.
Make the dips and cranberry sauce and refrigerate them until Thursday. Cranberry sauce, because of its high acidity, can stay fresh when refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Assemble and bake any casseroles that use sweet potatoes or squash and refrigerate them until Thursday.
Buy the more delicate vegetables, like green Brussels sprouts, and refrigerate them. You can blanch and shock your vegetables by putting them in boiling water for a few minutes to cook, then plunging them into an ice bath. Once they’re cool, you can keep them in the fridge until you need them. Try not to use salt — it’ll break down the vegetables and make them mushy.
Assemble the stuffing and put it in the freezer until it’s ready to be baked on Thursday.
Assemble and bake your pies. Unless they’re custard-based like pumpkin pie, you can keep them at room temperature until you serve them. If you froze your pies, let them thaw in the fridge overnight Wednesday. You’ll bake them the next day.
Clean the salad greens and store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. You can toss and dress the salad just before serving the next day.
Chop the vegetables like onions, peppers, broccoli, zucchini and squash. They’ll still look fine on Thursday; just cover them with a damp paper towel before storing them in the refrigerator sealed in a plastic bag or container with lid.
Even more finicky vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes or fennel can be cut and stored in the fridge in a bowl of water. No need to cover the bowl.
If you brine your turkey, do it in the afternoon and leave it soaking overnight in the fridge until you start roasting Thursday morning.
image source: simple.wikipedia.orgTHANKSGIVING DAY
Preheat the oven and make sure to leave 2 to 4 hours to roast the turkey. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
While the bird is resting, move on to baking your stuffing and roasting your vegetables.
Toss and dress the salad.
Warm up the casseroles, mashed potatoes, soup and gravy.
* We based these recommendations on tips from Argondizza and Briscione, and helpful lists from Epicurious, Food Network, The Pioneer Woman and Cook’s Illustrated.