This year for Thanksgiving, I’m inviting all my local friends who don’t have any family in the area. It’s going to be a potluck, of sorts, which means I’m giving up control of a large portion of the meal. I’m making the turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes (okay and some martinis and a cranberry sauce). Everyone else is bringing the rest. I’ve done Thanksgiving dinner for many years now, and wanted to share my tips for success.
1. BRINE THE BIRD: Yes, it’s a little work ahead of time (not that much) and yes, you have another couple steps with the turkey, but it makes the turkey OMG tender. I buy the giant Ziploc bags for the turkey when I can’t find brining bags, and do it the day before. I swear, you could roast that turkey for twenty hours and it would still be tender. Brining is worth it. trust me. If you want to know how I do it (there are all kinds of variations), I have my brining recipe on my blog.
2. PLAN AHEAD: I’m starting my Thanksgiving plan today. I’ll shop tomorrow, and I have a whole long list of what needs to be done and when (I keep last year’s plan in a folder so I’m not reinventing the wheel every time). A list, along with a timeline, makes it a LOT easier.
3. DON’T BE A CONTROL FREAK: It’s okay to let your friends and family help. To let your mother-in-law peel the potatoes or your kids roll out the pie crust, or even let someone else make the green beans. Stick to your one main thing (the bird for me) and don’t stress about the rest. Me and Mandy after making pies 2012 (me and my daughter after we finished making pies
4. ENJOY THE DAY: If you plan ahead, you won’t have much to do when guests arrive (except for slicing the turkey, which should rest after it’s done roasting, so even that can be done just before everyone arrives and covered with foil). I try to have everything done and made (mashed potatoes in the crock pot, stuffing in the oven, pies done the day before) at least an hour before guests arrive. Then I’m enjoying a glass of wine with my friends and family when the bird is done.
5. IT’S JUST A MEAL: I learned that lesson the year my husband made the pumpkin pie we were bringing to dinner (this is before I took over, LOL) and added salt instead of sugar. Yeah. I have had stuffings that were too dry. I have forgotten to buy potatoes. Run out of ice, burned the pies. In the end, it’s just a meal, and I’m not going to take it too seriously. Enjoy the friends and family, and don’t sweat the small stuff. After all, there is always dessert (and if it’s been ruined by too much salt, hopefully you saved some Halloween candy!