Author Topic: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?  (Read 14050 times)

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shhh its me

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2013, 05:23:50 PM »
 If you're worried about under cooking invest in a meat thermometer, much easier then practicing with a turkey. 

I've always been hit or miss with gravy so I'd had a jar as a back up.

GlitterIsMyDrug

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2013, 05:29:23 PM »
I'm realizing I have no idea how to make gravy without a packet mix.

Olympia

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2013, 05:59:02 PM »
I'm realizing I have no idea how to make gravy without a packet mix.

Try looking through these:

http://www.marthastewart.com/856455/easy-thanksgiving-gravy-recipes/@center/859093/everyday-foods-easiest-thanksgiving?search_key=gravy

You might want to do a test run if you've never made gravy before, but it's fairly simple once you get the hang of it. Martha has some great recipes, depending on how elaborate you feel like getting.

TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2013, 06:35:50 PM »
... add 1 cup of milk that has been shaken in a glass jar with four tablespoons of flour to remove flour granules, a...



Great recipe to have around for others--I can't do flour.
I could do a slurry w/ cornstarch, though.

mkkristen

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2013, 06:44:13 PM »
Trader Joes sells a GF gravy. I've been gluten free since 2011 and last year DH bought a couple boxes. I said how good it was and he came home with like 20 more boxes. It's a pretty good gravy. It's not as good as the stuff my aunt makes for Thanksgiving, but it's pretty good. Whole Foods might have one too, but I feel like they had one in 2011 and then last year didn't.

kckgirl

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2013, 06:46:03 PM »
I read a blog once about cooking a Thanksgiving meal. The author cooked her turkey the day before Thanksgiving and refrigerated it overnight. When it was time to serve, she arranged it on the platter and served it with her hot gravy. Nobody even knew the turkey was cold.

I don't see why you can't follow the recipe above with corn starch in place of the flour, but I don't know if the amount of corn starch would be the same as flour. I'm sure it would be easy to find out.
Maryland

POF

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2013, 07:21:25 PM »
Americas Test Kitchen had a good recipe for making the gravy in advance using turkey legs and wings.   

I make a project plan of working backwards in time - from when I want to serve to when I need to shop.

I also get out all my serving dishes and utensils and put post its on them on what they are for.

What are you serving and maybe I can give you some additional advice.  Toots you seem like the most organized on top of it person in the world and I bet yout T-Day goes off without a hitch.

I never use stuffing in the turkey - it makes the turkey dry in my opinion and takes too long to cook.



Tea Drinker

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2013, 07:23:13 PM »
Getting the turkey weighed before you bring it home seems useful if not absolutely necessary (so many recipes for roasts are x minutes/pound that coordinating the timing with other food would be tricky without knowing the weight of your bird).

Beyond that, I would try to rehearse all new dishes/recipes (e.g. if you've been doing sweet potatoes for years, but this year want to do them with apples instead of marshmallows, or boiled and mashed instead of roasted, that counts as new no matter how many times you've cooked sweet potatoes) or add at most one new dish, and be sure that you'll be okay if that doesn't work out. (If you always have both sweet potatoes and rolls, and are confident of those, you'll still have a good meal if the stuffing doesn't come out the way you'd hoped.)
Any advice that requires the use of a time machine may safely be ignored.

TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2013, 07:36:48 PM »
Americas Test Kitchen had a good recipe for making the gravy in advance using turkey legs and wings.   

I saw one of those too, and thought that I might well do that. Then all the stress of tackling something sort of unfamiliar will be on some OTHER day.

I find it hard to do complicated cooking with people in the house.

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I make a project plan of working backwards in time - from when I want to serve to when I need to shop.

I've done that before as well--a big chart.

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I also get out all my serving dishes and utensils and put post its on them on what they are for.

I've done that occasionally--and I didn't start early enough to Tgiving. But I think I'll remember your advice and make sure I do it--two days before, LOL!

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What are you serving and maybe I can give you some additional advice.  Toots you seem like the most organized on top of it person in the world and I bet yout T-Day goes off without a hitch.
Aw, thanks!
But it didn't last year!


I may be back to this thread when I get a little more specific.

Last year I made shredded brussels sprouts, but I forgot how much work it would be. So I might make a small batch just to see if using the food processor would help (I actually don't like my f.p. much). and I may do whole ones.

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I never use stuffing in the turkey - it makes the turkey dry in my opinion and takes too long to cook.

Good to know. Most times I've done a whole bird of one kind or another, I've thrown cut-up aromatic vegetables in there (onions, celery, carrots, bay leaf).

jpcher

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2013, 07:55:20 PM »
... add 1 cup of milk that has been shaken in a glass jar with four tablespoons of flour to remove flour granules, a...



Great recipe to have around for others--I can't do flour.
I could do a slurry w/ cornstarch, though.

Cornstarch works well for gravies but it needs to be added at the very end of gravy mixing (just before serving) otherwise it will quickly over-cook and loose it's thickening power. You'll end up with thin gravy . . . which isn't bad if you like a brothy-type gravy, but then never mind adding the cornstarch in the first place.

I do like Amara's recipe for pre-prepared gravy, but if you're using cornstarch do everything in the recipe except for the flour part and then when you heat it up for service, add your cornstarch slurry once the broth is simmering, mix well, then turn off the heat and serve.


For the turkey . . . is there any chance that you have an oven roaster? ( http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Food-Warmer---18-Quart-Roaster-Oven-c110p7782.html?cid=WSCSGOCKE815-044pla&CAWELAID=1213858517&catargetid=320013760000036744&cadevice=c&gclid=CM23t67hxLoCFasRMwodRGQAzg )

This cooks an awesome turkey and frees up your oven for other things.





Would you mind posting your other menu thoughts?




I read a blog once about cooking a Thanksgiving meal. The author cooked her turkey the day before Thanksgiving and refrigerated it overnight. When it was time to serve, she arranged it on the platter and served it with her hot gravy. Nobody even knew the turkey was cold.

LOL! You know, that's a great idea! After letting the turkey rest for 20 minutes and the time it takes to carve the turkey (we don't do the pretty roasted turkey at the table presentation) the meat isn't all that hot to begin with. I do hope she warmed it a bit, though.




Others posted while I was typing

peaches

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #25 on: November 01, 2013, 08:32:08 PM »
I think it sounds like a good idea!If you make a trial turkey, you can get the timing and basting down pat, and you could freeze the sliced turkey so you'd have plenty for the holiday when it comes. That could mean you wouldn't have to get a ginormous turkey for Thanksgiving (in my experience the huge ones take forever to cook and are harder to estimate the timing for; medium size turkeys taste better and don't take all day to cook).

When I do Thanksgiving (which thankfully isn't every year!) I prepare as much ahead of time as possible. You can make ahead:

*mashed sweet potatoes - freeze beautifully
*dressing - can be made a day ahead and baked on Thanksgiving. I've also done crockpot dressing and it was moist and yummy.
*gravy - make and freeze. Use turkey wings to make it. Or use a good canned or jarred gravy and add some drippings at the last minute and/or the jiblets that you've simmered in broth ahead of time.
*cranberry sauce - fresh cranberry sauce can be made ahead and frozen. Or make Paula Deen's quicky cranberry sauce (canned whole cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges and chopped pecans)
*mashed potatoes - can be made a day or two ahead and reheated in the oven or a crockpot
*pecan pie keeps well for a day or two in the refrigerator or can even be frozen
*pumpkin cheesecake can be made a day or two ahead or frozen; all cheesecakes freeze well IMO
*a trifle is also pretty for holidays and can be made ahead. My SIL makes a pumpkin trifle.
*rolls can be baked while the roast turkey is "resting". All meat needs to rest before carving (to keep the juices in); turkey can rest for up to a half hour, covered loosely with foil.
*I make a green vegetable that can be cooked on the stovetop (not oven) such as fresh green beans (easy to dress up with sliced almonds or cashews) or green peas with pearl onions or sautéed Brussels sprouts. I usually cook this at the last minute, but it could be made earlier in the day and reheated.

I also often delegate part of the meal, such as rolls, dessert or a vegetable.

We never have appetizers for Thanksgiving. It just spoils people's appetite, and there is so much food to eat at the meal, who needs an appetizer?

Good luck!!

TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #26 on: November 01, 2013, 08:43:56 PM »
I think it sounds like a good idea!If you make a trial turkey, you can get the timing and basting down pat, and you could freeze the sliced turkey so you'd have plenty for the holiday when it comes. That could mean you wouldn't have to get a ginormous turkey for Thanksgiving (in my experience the huge ones take forever to cook and are harder to estimate the timing for; medium size turkeys taste better and don't take all day to cook).

That's a great point!!


Thanks for the make-ahead list. I have a big oven, so especially if I use your strategy and don't get a huge turkey, I can fit some veggies in there pretty easily, actually.


sweetonsno

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #27 on: November 01, 2013, 11:32:01 PM »
I think I'm going to get to host the family holiday again this year. Last year I undercooked the turkey and didn't make gravy.

Big mistake!

I've been thinking that maybe I should try both again before the big day.

But how silly is that? Should I just try to make gravy, or find a make-ahead gravy so I have it as backup?

Or would roasting a small chicken help me at all? It seems like it wouldn't.

I've never worried about roasts before--my experience with them is that there's not that much technique to it, except for not overcooking it. They've always come out fine.

But the turkey was weirder--and I had more conflicting advice, and chose the wrong one. Plus I didn't know how much it weighed bcs the butcher didn't tell me and I didn't realize until I was home and had no way to measure it.


And, any general tips for how to handle the big meal, multiple stuff, etc., would be welcome. I've already realized that I need to prep all the plates, platters, linens, etc., at least 2 days before so it's not in the way.

And of course, some foods can be done a day or more ahead.

Timing is everything. Here's my timeline:

Monday: Go shopping. Get everything you think you need. If you're making your own breadcrumbs/bread cubes for the dressing, make them today so they have time to dry out. If you've bought fresh herbs, take them out of their little plastic boxes and put them into a glass of water. Put a baggie over it loosely and pop it in the fridge. If your bird is frozen, put it in the fridge. Make sure it's on something because it will probably drip.

Tuesday: Realize you forgot something. Curse. Go shopping and get it. Prepare the dishes that you'll serve cold (cranberry sauce, Jello mold). Clean up. Woo hoo! You're pretty much done! Double check on your quantities of vegetables, seasonings, and wine.  Make the desserts if you are making your own.

Wednesday: Pour yourself a mimosa. It's going to be a long day.

1. Make the dressing/stuffing up until the point where you would stuff the bird or put it into the oven. Just put it into a casserole dish and toss it in the refrigerator. It'll be fine. You can actually do this with most of the casserole-type dishes, I'd guess.

2. Calculate how long you'll need to cook the bird so you know when to put it into the oven. Add at least half an hour to allow for dressing it and resting it. Remember that if you stuff the bird, it'll take longer to cook.

3. Set up your mise en place for tomorrow. You can blanch some of the veggies. Save the carrot water if you're making your own gravy. (If you're having candied carrots, you can peel them, cut them up, and cook them until they are about two minutes short of done. Then, just make the butter-sugar mixture and add the carrots. Finish cooking them then.)

4. Make the relish trays. If you cover them with damp paper towel and then wrap them in plastic, they'll be fine. Cheese and crackers can wait until tomorrow.

5. Set the table. Make sure the relevant beverages are in the refrigerator.

Thursday: Rally the troops and get going.

1. Dress the turkey and put it in the oven at the appropriate time. The meat thermometer is a great idea. Stick it into the thickest part of the bird's thigh.

2. If you want to make your own gravy, toss the giblets (except the liver) and parson's nose into a saucepan of water with a slice of onion, a few peppercorns, a stalk of celery. Let it simmer on a back burner while you do everything else. Keep the heat low and don't let it boil dry.

3. About half an hour before you want to eat, put the casseroles in the oven.

4. Make somebody peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks, then put them into a pot of cold salted water. You can set it aside until you're ready to make the potatoes. Alternatively, save yourself some trouble and just do baked potatoes. They can go in the microwave if you get really pressed for time.

5. Take the turkey out of the oven, put it on the serving platter, then make the gravy. I bring all of the pan juices to a boil, then whisk in a mixture of flour and cold water (about 1:2 ratio). It will thicken. You may need to add more depending on how much you got from the pan juices. No worries. Turn the heat down to medium low. Then, thin using the broth you made from the giblets. (Taste it and strain it first.) I'd use a mix of that and the water that the carrots/potatoes were boiled in. When it gets to be the consistency you want, check the seasonings. If it seems lackluster, add a small blob of Marmite.

6. Five minute warning while you bring all of the casseroles out to the table/sideboard.

Boom. You're done.

kareng57

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #28 on: November 01, 2013, 11:57:56 PM »
I do agree with backup gravy.  Not long ago I noticed that I still had an old can of poultry gravy.  Gravy has always been my nemesis, however, during the last few years I discovered Veloutine.  (I have no idea whether or not this is available in the US).  It's a very-easy-to-use thickener/darkener, but I can understand a first-timer being unwilling to try it.

For the bird itself - so much is dependent on the particular bird, size etc.  It's probably best to overestimate the cooking time - you can keep a cooked-bird moist for a couple of hours while you finish the vegetables, potatoes etc.

ETA:  re gravy - I've never tried this myself, but apparently many restaurants that serve Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners will happily sell you a couple of cups of gravy at nominal cost.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2013, 11:22:15 PM by kareng57 »

cross_patch

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #29 on: November 02, 2013, 12:45:27 AM »
I third or fourth the idea of a checklist- I found one on the internet for Christmas dinner (I want to say it was on Martha Stewart? If in doubt, I always go to Martha, but it could possibly have been a women's weekly one).  Anyway, it was timed really well and since then I've used it as a framework for all big dinners, and it's been invaluable. I think it's one of those things that just gets easier the more times you do it! I wouldn't bother with a chicken- roasting a chicken's pretty easy, and wouldn't really help you with the finer points of roasting a turkey but  as long as you have the weight and a meat thermometer you should be fine. And definitely have packet gravy on hand as a back up!  We've made gluten free gravy with arrowroot flour before rather than plain, and it was fine. I just use chicken stock to make it a bit tastier.