Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thanksgiving Checklist

My two-week countdown to Thanksgiving helps you get organized, so that the day
of the feast is easy and  relaxed.


Browse your recipe collection to work out a menu.  What are your favorites:  Where is there room for a little experimentation?

Pick up some turkey wings in preparation for making and freezing a big batch of turkey stock. (recipe below).

Start planning your table decorations.

Creat one big master shopping list, dividing it into three sections:  buy-non perishables (wine, canned pumpkin, frozen turkey). items for the one-week-ahead grocery run.

Golden Turkey Stock


4-1/2 pounds turkey wings, cut in half
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large celery chopped
6 fresh italian parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Arrange wings in large roasting pan.  Roast until deep brown turning once, about 2 hours total.

Transfer wings to a large bowl.  Spoon 3 tablespoons turkey fat from roasting pan into pot (reserve roasting pan).  Add onion, carrot, and celery to pot.  Saute over medium heat until vegetables are golden, about 20 minutes.  Add turkey wings to pot.  Add  2 cups of water to roasting pan; place over 2 burners and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits.  Add liquid to pot.  Add remaining ingredients and enough cold water to cover wings by 1 inch.

Bring water to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer uncovered until stock is very flavorful and reduced to about 8 cups, about 2-1/2 hours.  Strain stock into large bowl.  Cool 1 hour, then chill until cold, about 3 hours.  Spoon off fat from surface before using.  Can be made 3 days ahead or frozen two weeks ahead.


Thursday, November 14, 2013
* Check that you have all the kitchen equipment necessary to make the turkey and other dishes on the menu.
* Get a head start on biscuits or muffins for the feast by making your own baking mix. Measure the dry ingredients and butter from whatever recipe you’ve chosen and blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal; refrigerate in a sealed plastic bag. When it’s time to bake, there’s no need to bring the mixture to room temperature before adding the eggs and other ingredients.


Thursday, November 21, 2013
* Check your shopping list and buy nonperishable items.
* If you’re using a frozen turkey, you’ll need to thaw it. The safest and easiest way is to put it, in its packaging, breast side up on a platter in your fridge. It will thaw at a rate of 4 pounds per day. Do the math and figure out when you need to start.
* Set the table (no, really). Lay out serving pieces and utensils with Post-its indicating which dish each piece is for, so you don’t wind up serving the dressing with tongs. This will also get you to go through your assorted flatware, glassware, serving pieces, and table linens to see what you need to dry-clean, press, or shine, and what you will need to buy.


Saturday, November 23, 2013
* Bake any breads or rolls now—they will keep for a week in the freezer. After baking, allow them to cool completely, wrap in foil, place in resealable plastic bags and freeze.
 Sunday, November 24, 2013
* It’s time to clean out the fridge. You’ll need storage space in the freezer and fridge for the turkey and the do-ahead dishes.


Monday, November 25, 2013
* Make cranberry sauce or relishes and store in the refrigerator.
* Prepare flavored butters (if desired) to serve on rolls (or to dab on mashed potatoes). Store covered in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013
* Using a roux in your gravy? (You should.) Make it now and keep it in the refrigerator until go time.
* Tear bread for the dressing into pieces and leave out overnight on a baking sheet. You want stale bread for good dressing integrity. You can also bake the pieces for an hour or two at 200°
* Make soups and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
* Make your pie dough. Wrap tightly in plastic and keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013
* Hit the supermarket early in the day to shop for perishables.
* Chill white wine, beer, bubbly, etc. If you’ll need more ice, now is the time to buy bags and make sure your cooler is clean.
* Wash and spin-dry salad greens, wrap in paper towels and store in resealable plastic bags in the refrigerator.
* Par-bake your dressing so all you’ll need to do on Turkey Day is reheat it and crisp it up.
* Make pies or other desserts and store according to recipe directions.
* Brining your turkey? For maximum flavor (and moistness), do it now.
* Most important of all: don’t cook dinner tonight. Order in.


Thursday, November 28, 2013
If you’ve followed our advice, today should be a breeze. For the typical menu, here’s what’s left to do.
In the Morning
* Turkey-roasting rule of thumb: Roast an unstuffed bird for approximately 15 minutes per pound at 325°. Do the math and figure out when you need to put the turkey in the oven to hit your scheduled dinnertime. Don’t forget to take resting time into account.
* Cut up everything for salads—except produce that browns easily (like apples)—and refrigerate in a big resealable plastic bag. Prep and chill the salad dressing.
* Make the mashed potatoes. Keep warm in a double boiler. Add a bit of warm milk just before serving if they seem a little dry.
* Thaw and rewarm (or finish preparing and bake) breads according to recipe directions.
* Whip cream for dessert.
Before the Meal
* Reheat dressing(s) and any sides that need it.
* Rewarm soup.
* Assemble any salads you may be serving. Toss with salad dressing just before serving.


Friday, November 29, 2013
* Enjoy your leftovers and rest up. Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s are not too far away—visit for more great holiday tips and recipes!

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