Two Days Until Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and for me most of the work is spread over the three days leading up to. Now I've ordered my fresh turkey in the first week of November and arrange to pick it up three days before Thanksgiving. That way, I'm not storing it in a freezer or worrying about defrosting it. I picked up the bird yesterday; this morning I prepped the bird by seasoning the flesh/cavity. It will now chill, uncovered, on a rimmed baking sheet in the refrigerator for the next forty-eight hours. This will give the salt and sugar time penetrate the meat. It will also dry out the skin which helps to get it nice and crisp when it roasts.
Now let me back up, Sunday night I reference all my recipes and make a master ingredient list. On Monday morning I shop for all of the ingredients I'll need; it's helpful to have everything in front of you. If you have to run back and forth to the store, then you have less time in the kitchen to get things done. So I have all of my ingredients and I've picked up my turkey. Now I go home and organize my kitchen. This is important if you want everything to fit in your fridge. The last thing I do is make a batch of chicken stock and that's it; you don't want to get overwhelmed early in the game.
Tuesday morning, besides prepping the bird, I'll make the cranberry relish. I make mine raw so I like to give the orange and sugar time to macerate. This takes no time at all. Finally, I make the gravy using the neck-bone from the bird and two purchased turkey thighs. I will gently rewarm it on the day. I find the cooking liquid to be pretty salty and it can sometimes be difficult to quiet that without diluting all of the flavors. I can always add some of it to my gravy to punch up the salt if needed.
Wednesday is the heavy prep day. I bake my desserts; this year I decided on two double-crust apple pies (I made vanilla ice cream to accompany these a week ago). The pies can sit out at room temperature, overnight, and still be delicious. I also prepare the green bean casserole and dressing. I'll have them ready to go in the oven when the turkey comes out to rest for the better part of an hour; plenty of time to get everything cooked and your mashed potatoes done. The last thing I do on Wednesday is help my wife set the table. It's helpful to have all of your serving dishes out so you can visualize where it will go and what it will look like.
So it's really not too bad when you spread it out over three days. I'll finish this blog trilogy with what Thanksgiving Day actually looks like for me and how non-stressful and fun it can be. Good luck with your cooking responsibilities and remember to have a good time, don't be the angry chef buried in prep work hiding away from all of your guests.