Seven Days Until Thanksgiving
Like the title says, we are a week away from Thanksgiving and the excitement is building. My wife and I host around 15-20 people at our house so there is some work and planning involved. The work begins by ordering a fresh turkey in the first week of November. I've ordered from Bud's Custom Meats the past few years and have been satisfied with the birds. The farm they come from is Norbest Farms in Utah and Bud's has a fresh or smoked turkey option when you order.
I typically stick to a classic menu, but vary the cooking technique of the actual bird year to year. I read the November issue of Cook's Illustrated and Bon Appetit, in addition to referencing several of my cookbooks to draw up an outline of the meal in the second week of November. I try to whittle away prep items and cleaning tasks in the week or two before, like cleaning the oven, making pie dough, or organizing the freezer. I also make a timeline for the 3 to 4 days leading up to and a separate timeline for the big day itself. I do almost all of the prep work in the days leading up so the day of I can focus on the bird and getting the sides hot.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I remember seeing my grandmother and my aunt buzz around this small kitchen every Thanksgiving, shuffling things in and out of the packed oven. I was always amazed by how many dishes were served. Each dish alone is pretty plain, which is great for pleasing children, but when you mix the palette of flavors on your plate you discover this delicious mix of tastes and textures as well as contrasting temperatures (hot gravy, warm meat, cold cranberry).
What a fun meal! I have a lot of fond memories of Thanksgiving; now that my grandmother isn't alive anymore, I try to continue that tradition of providing a feast for the family. More updates to come...