- Determining factors for my husband and I are the family traditions with which we grew up, and our personal likes and dislikes.
- More to consider is one's experience and comfort level. I remember being extremely nervous the first time I cooked a turkey let alone the first time I cooked one for guests!
- Another factor is serving time. I will experience the day completely different if the serving time is 1:00 p.m. compared to 5:00 p.m. There are pros and cons to either time. If the serving time is 1:00 p.m. I might feel the need to get up extra early at 5:00 a.m. I'm not a morning person. However, this might be a nice time to serve because I can still enjoy a clean kitchen and a relaxing evening with my family.
- Finally, the number of people you are serving also effects how much of everything you need to make.
Over the years I've learned that keeping Thanksgiving dinner simple and classic is best. My family and guests are never disappointed. I leave the experimenting for the week before or the weeks after. Who says you can only cook turkey one time during November? Here is what we do for a classic Thanksgiving day. I may make slight adjustments here and there, but this is what I'll be doing this Thanksgiving and it all starts one week before.
1. One week or a few days before Thanksgiving day (you still have time) make a whole roasted turkey breast. Not only is this a nice preview of the feast to come, but more importantly this will give you the scraps you need to make real turkey stock.
All you need is 1 whole or 2 halves of turkey breast (about 7 pounds), 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of chicken broth, salt, and pepper.
2. A couple of days before Thanksgiving day I make my turkey stock in a slow cooker the same exact way as I make chicken stock, and store it in the refrigerator until Thursday.
All you need is the turkey bones and scraps from the step above, 1 onion, 1 carrot, a few pieces of celery, whole peppercorns, a bay leaf, and water.
3. Wednesday night I chop the onions, celery and tear up the bread for the classic turkey stuffing. Thursday it goes in the oven with the homemade turkey broth. The flavor of this stuffing is amazing.
All you need is 2 - 3 loaves of quality white sandwich bread, 8 cups of turkey stock, 1 large onion, 6 stalks of celery, 2 sticks of unsalted butter, 4 tablespoons of rubbed sage, salt, and pepper.
4. Before I go to bed on Wednesday I wash, peel, and cut up the potatoes for the crock pot mashed potatoes.
All you need is 7 lbs. of russet potatoes, 1 1/4 stick of butter, half and half, salt, and white pepper
5. As you figure out what time to start cooking the turkey (it's best to follow the instructions that come with the bird) build in an extra 30 minutes for the turkey to rest as you make the gravy and heat up your rolls. I love making the turkey in a roaster because it keeps the oven free for other items.
All you need is a thawed turkey, chicken or turkey stock, butter, salt and pepper.
I don't have blog posts for gravy, rolls, vegetables, pie, whipped cream. Usually, I buy artisan rolls and our guests love to contribute by bringing a green bean casserole or the dessert. This year I'll try to make a blog post for the gravy and whipped cream.
Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!
All you need is to plan ahead, create a shopping list, and create a day-by-day and hour-by-hour schedule.