Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?

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Outdoor Girl:
I've goofed on the doneness of the turkey before because of a change in roasting pan.  We have a lovely, stainless steel roasting pan.  But for some reason, you have to add about an hour to the cooking time when you use it.  It just doesn't seem to transfer the heat as well as the old pan.  So for your cooking time, keep that in mind.  It is about 20 minutes to the pound for roasting, reducing to 15 minutes to the pound if the bird is over about 18 pounds.

If you are concerned about timing, put the bird in earlier.  You can always turn the oven down or worse comes to worse, let the meat be a bit cold.  The gravy will warm it up.

What roasting a chicken might help with, though, is practicing the gravy on a smaller scale.  I use the drippings and some water off the potatoes and carrots, if I have it.  I mix up cornstarch in water to use as a thickener.  I also use a product called Bisto for the gravy but it does add a fair amount of salt.  If you are concerned, you could always buy a premade gravy to have, just in case.

I pour the drippings into a glass measuring cup or bowl and let everything settle.  I skim off most of the fat, return the drippings to the pan, add in 2 to 1 ratio of potato to carrot water (the carrot water adds some sweetness but it isn't crucial if you don't have it).  Then the cornstarch and water mixture is added, along with the Bisto if you are going to use it.  The gravy shouldn't be boiling yet when you add the cornstarch; otherwise you'll get lumps.  I just boil everything until it gets to the consistency I want and pour it in the gravy boat.  We like having some of the bits in it but if you don't, just strain it to remove those.

As for getting the weight of the bird, do you have bathroom scales?  Weigh yourself holding the turkey and without the turkey and subtract.   :)

definitely buy a fool proof/package gravy to have as a backup.

as for the turkey - it sounds like what went wrong was that you didn't have the correct weight. So make sure you do this time. Personally i'm not wild about turkey (i'll eat it but wouldn't want a freezer full of lefteovers) but if you guys do like it, then why not? (just write everything down as you go along, so you can replicate the success).

Do aheads - mainly the shopping (drinks? ice? dessert? ), setting the table, taking out the big platters, matching serving utensils to serving bowls. I think probably on BH&G or Epicurious you can find a "countdown to t-giving" chart that will help you organize.

If you have to practice, great.  If not, start a list and keep on top of it.  That is how we handle thanksgiving every year, and we have been hosting it since 1992 with upwards of 36 people.  Lists keep us on track.

I had the same thought about the bathroom scales as Outdoor Girl.

I think practicing sounds like a fun thing to do as long as you like turkey.

I think a trial run sounds like a great idea, so long as you like turkey (or know someone you can feed it to). :-)

I'm also going to POD making sure you have the correct weight, and a meat thermometer. You can get a decent probe thermometer (where the end you stick in the bird has a cable linking it to the read-out outside the oven) for maybe $15 - $20. Just make sure you read the directions on how to position it.


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