Spend more time planning and less time panicking with this easy to follow and realistic prep guide.
1 week before: Get your bird!
When it comes down to cooking a roasting a turkey for dinner, one very common question arises: how big of a turkey do I need. One popular rule states you should assume 1 lb of turkey per dinner guest attending, for adults, and you should consider children as half adults. However, this usually doesn’t provide leftovers or seconds. I always assume 2 lbs per person, but I use several Thanks giving Day leftover recipes so I like a lot of leftovers. (look for those recipes to follow).
And remember, if the Turkey is frozen, it takes 24 hours per 4-5 lbs to defrost in your fridge. So take that into consideration when purchasing your bird.
The weekend before:
Make a detailed shopping list and check it-twice. But don’s expect to get all your shopping done in one trip. Instead, divide your list into two parts: items you’ll need in advance and items you will need the final day or two before the big day. Planning a second trip not only keeps your refrigerator from groaning but also relieves you of having to remember every last stick of butter the first time around.
The Tuesday before:
Make everything that will be served chilled, like cranberry sauce. Cover the dishes, place them in the refrigerator and forget about them until serving time.
The Wednesday before:
Take inventory before making a second trip to the store, (cream, foil?) And don’t forget to check on that Turkey.
Chop the onions and the celery, wash the herbs and trim the rest of the vegetables. Pat them dry, cover and put back into the refrigerator.
Assemble the stuffing, transfer to a baking dish, and refrigerate.
Prepare the dessert (or assemble as much of it as you can) and refrigerate or bake it.
If your going to brine the turkey, it will need to sit in the brine solution for 16 to 24 hours before cooking. (I highly recommend using a brine, it adds a ton of flavor and keeps the turkey juicy)
Then, get a head start of all those dishes.
If, like most people, you think of one last thing you need from the store, and a trusted guest to stop on the way over.
While the turkey roasts, cook the side dishes.
And remember, whether your turkey comes with a pre-prepped thermometer that pops up when its done, still check that the temperature is 180 degrees F in the thigh and 165 degrees F in breast or stuffing.
Don’t forget to let the bird rest at least 30 minutes before carving to allow the juices to re-absorb into the flesh.You don’t want the moisture to drain out.
While resting- Make gravy and assemble and last minute sides and rewarm the ones you made the day before.
During dinner, warm dessert in the oven.
And don’t forget to take time out to enjoy with your friends and family!