Thanksgiving–Here’s a Timeline for Holiday Cooks

18 Nov

Photo courtesy of National Turkey Federation.

Once we hit November time makes a quantum leap.  Like so many of you, I look at the calendar and realize almost two weeks have vaporized.  Here we are mid-month. Let’s get this holiday cooking party started.

If you’re the host or quarterback for the holiday meal team, check the number of folks you’re planning the meal for.  You want to know how many to expect, are there any special diets, and who doesn’t eat what.  Answering these key questions will, help you wing it and minimize stress.  Starting with a list goes a long way toward staying on task; here’s the list I start with as a holiday help to staying on track.

Thanksgiving To Do List

Eight to 14 Days Ahead

  • Decide on number of people you’re inviting.
  • Write out the menu and grocery list.
  •  Order turkey to make sure you get the turkey you want, i.e. fresh, frozen, or organic, and the specific size.  If you’re big on leftovers, plan on 1-1/2 lbs. for each adult.
  • Watch for specials and shop for non-perishables.
  • If your menu includes items that freeze well, cook them in advance and freeze them.  Greens, cornbread, rolls, pound cake, etc.

Five to Seven Days Before

  • Complete grocery shopping.
  • Pick up the turkey. If frozen allow (1) day for every 4 lbs. for the turkey to thaw in the refrigerator.
  • Get out the dishes, serving bowls, and flatware, to make sure they’re ready to use.

Monday Before

  • Chop onion, celery, etc. for stuffing.
  • Remove cornbread from freezer to thaw.
  • Toast or cube bread for dressing.

Tuesday Before

  • Prepare gelatin salad if on the menu
  • Prepare desserts.

Wednesday Before

  • Remove any frozen foods from freezer; allow to thaw in the refrigerator.
  • Prep or cook any vegetable just until almost tender.
  • Combine dressing ingredients and refrigerate.
  • If you’d like, prep the turkey according to package directions to cook on Thursday morning. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • Set table.

Thursday

  • Prepare the turkey to cook according to the recipe you’re using.  Plan for the turkey to be done 30 (45 minutes if slicing it in advance) minutes before dinner.
  • Place dressing in turkey or casserole dish to bake.

Two Hours To Serve

  • Unmold congealed salad; garnish and refrigerate.
  • Bake or reheat any pre-cooked dishes.
  • Prepare gravy.
  • Place turkey on serving platter and garnish as desired.
  • Heat rolls or cornbread.
  • Put food in serving dishes.

Break bread, give thanks and enjoy this special time with friends and family.

The next blog posts will cover more info on holiday dishes.   If you have questions, just let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Editorial note: I am a former food editor of Southern Living and Ebony and  magazines and editor of Special Fork. I‘m also a spokesperson for the toll-free Butterball Turkey Talk-Line®,  1-800-Butterball.

 

 

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Chow Chow & Soul’s Charla Draper talks entertaining | Same Chic Different Day - November 25, 2014

    […] Draper uses tested recipes that she’s developed herself or that come from reliable sources.  She advises cooks to use a timeline when preparing meals (you can find a great one on her blog by clicking HERE). […]

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