Easy Thanksgiving: A Game Plan to Keep You Sane
The idea is to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday by cooking up a feast for friends and family, not to end up in a sanatorium. And the easiest way to avoid a mental breakdown on Turkey Day is to make a list and work backwards. Check. Re-check. Over and out.
Plan your menu well:
Now’s not the time to make the most exotic dishes in the world. Save that for after the holidays. Instead, stick to simple basics, like these Classic Mashed Potatoes and this recipe for Easy Cheesy Broccoli and Rice.
Make everything you can one or two days in advance:
This easy cranberry sauce, for example, needs to chill overnight anyway. You can also make the pumpkin pie ahead of time. If you haven’t drawn up your menu yet, perhaps think about adding as many make-ahead side dishes as possible (click here for 8 Great Make-Ahead Recipes) that will save you lots of time.
Get the stuffing out of the way early:
You can’t stuff a turkey without the stuffing, so do that first thing on Thanksgiving Day — whether you pick a super-easy recipe, like this Moist and Savory Stuffing (with only 4 ingredients!), or something more complicated, perhaps a Bread Stuffing with Fresh Herbs, made with crusty French bread.
Set the table in the morning:
Have it all ready — the plates, the water and wine glasses, everything all set so you don’t have to even think about it when the kitchen starts to heat up. Have Aunt Ida pass out this make-ahead punch while you get back to work. And tell her to keep the do-gooders (who only get in the way) out of your kitchen!
Finally, let’s talk turkey:
You know to order the Big Bird well in advance, but pay attention to how much turkey you really want. Here’s a good rule: 1 pound of turkey = 1 serving. So if you’re having a relatively small gathering of relatives, this Roast Turkey, 8-10 Pound recipe would be fine — with leftovers. Thaw your turkey in the fridge, for at least 24 hours for a small (4-5 pound) bird, twice as long for the 8-10 pounder. You can also thaw in cold water at the rate of 30 minutes per pound, but that’s messy and only for emergencies, like “I forgot to take Tom out of the freezer.”
Turkey (click here for great Thanksgiving turkey recipes) is done when it registers 165 degrees on a meat thermometer (yeah, we know, or when the thingie pops up, but better to double-check). And don’t forget to let the bird cool for 20-40 minutes (depending on size), so as not to lose any juice — a tragedy!
And if you really want to make things easy on yourself, go with Justin’s Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Turkey. In the end, there might be nothing like giving tradition itself the bird!
Got an intimate gathering? Make these easy no-fuss Thanksgiving recipes instead.