So you’re responsible for the family Thanksgiving dinner this year.
According to Food&Wine magazine, if you haven’t already started planning and prepping, you’re probably already behind schedule.
In an article that appeared on Food&Wine’s website on Oct. 28, by Thursday, Nov. 9, you should have already completed these steps: finalized your guest list, cleaned out your freezer, planned the menu, made sure you have enough good pots and pans and (presentable) baking dishes, enough (presentable) place settings of dinnerware, silverware and glassware, serving pieces, ordered your turkey, made a grocery list and prepared and frozen your turkey stock and gravy.
Ok, ok, so Food&Wine assumes you’ll be doing Thanksgiving from scratch. And we all know what happens when you assume....
Seriously, Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. If you haven’t already, you probably should go ahead and buy your turkey. You decide if you want fresh or frozen, grocery-store or local, organically raised. Just keep in mind that a frozen turkey takes about ONE DAY per every 4 pounds to defrost — a so you need to plan accordingly (a 10 pound turkey takes 2 days + 12 hours to defrost in the refrigerator)!
Things to do by next Saturday, Nov. 18:
▪ Shop for beer and wine and check to see which store has cola on sale. You can ask the fine folks at your nearest wine shop what will pair best with Auntie’s green bean casserole.
▪ Plan table decor. Do you need to throw the tablecloth and runner in the wash or iron out the wrinkles? Will the kids be in charge of the centerpiece?
▪ Make sure you have your recipes. No one needs to guess whether it was 2 cups of flour or 3 in that cake (probably 2), so put those recipes where you can find them.
▪ Clean out the fridge. Not only does this free up space for all that food you’re prepping (ha!), but your nosy sister won’t find that container of green stuff that once were leftovers.
▪ BONUS: If you’re going to brine the turkey, make sure you have a plastic container big enough (a wash tub, perhaps?) to hold it AND that you have room in the refrigerator.
Thanksgiving week (T-Day minus 5):
Saturday or Sunday: Pick up turkey and other items on your shopping list. Also make sure you have enough tin/aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and you’ve got lids for or have replaced those plastic food containers.
Monday, Nov. 20: Begin defrosting that frozen turkey! Make the brine and refrigerate it. Double check to make sure you have enough pans and casserole dishes. Bonus points if you know what’s going into which one.
Tuesday, Nov. 21: Start prepping side dishes, sauces, gravies, soups and desserts. Make a batch of biscuit dough, shape the biscuits and freeze dough until Thursday. Most desserts (cakes and pies) can be made, frosted and held, wrapped tight or under a dome, at room temperature for two days. Clean your house.
Wednesday, Nov. 22: Put the turkey in the brine (if you’re brining). Really, clean your house! Do make-ahead sides (roasted veggies like potatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, etc), anything that needs oven time...save that time for the turkey. Set the table. ICE! Do you have enough ice for cooling and serving drinks?
Foolproof Roasted Vegetables
1 pound of fresh vegetables of your choice: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Wash and trim vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces.
In a 9 x 13 baking dish or on a sheet pan, place prepared vegetables, garlic, butter and oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Place in oven and roast 20 to 30 minutes, until vegetables start to soften and brown. Vegetables can be done up to two days ahead and reheated.
Thursday, Nov. 23: PREHEAT THE OVEN. You’d be surprised how many folks forget to do this, so forgive the yelling. Allow 2 to 4 hours to roast the turkey and 30 minutes for it to rest when it comes out of the oven. Chill the drinks. Make sure you’ve made/bought enough sweet tea. DON’T forget the biscuits. Toss and dress the salad. Make the stuffing. Reheat the casseroles, soups and gravy. Pour yourself a beverage. Exhale.
OR, scratch all that and order out...
You can order already prepared turkey and fixings at local restaurants and grocery stores. Just make sure you’ve reserved in advance.
Bojangles has heat-and-serve Cajun-fried turkeys, while supplies last. Don’t forget extra biscuits.
EarthFare has classic turkey and vegan dinners that care ready-to-cook or ready-to-heat
Fresh Market has turkey, boneless spiral ham, standing rib roast, tenderloin, honey ham and rack of lamb, plus sides and desserts. Pre-order by Nov. 20.
Rosewood Market has free-range non-GMO turkeys for sale this year, but not the tofu-turkey
Whole Foods offers whole turkeys, turkey breast, prime rib and vegan dinner options. Pre-order by Nov. 20.