It’s too late for this to be of any use to you for Thanksgiving 2011, but it’s not too late for next year. It is tips and wisdom compiled not only from this year’s personal experience, but from past years, as well as input from friends who “cook and tell”. Please add your own tips in the comments and I’ll create a master list with community input, called “Don’t Say We Didn’t Tell You: The Sweet Beet Speaks”
- If someone asks to bring something, never decline – one of the greatest joys of Thanksgiving is feeling like you contributed to the feast. If the person is a crap cook, let them bring a store-bought pie. (Pumpkin is the hardest to screw up.)
- Do it at lunchtime rather than making it a 4pm late-aft meal and make everyone follow you on a walk before dessert. Expect a major protest but do it anyway.
- By all means stuff the cavity of the bird with onions, carrots, celery etc but don’t count on those flavors traveling to the breast meat. Instead, once the bird’s cooked, take them out, blend until smooth, and add them to the gravy for outstanding flavor.
- Don’t serve any appetizers beforehand. If you’re anything like me, your stomach will be on its hands and knees begging for food and if you put a plate of cheese in front of me, I will devour it. There is no better way to improve the taste of a meal than hunger, so don’t deny your guests the pleasure of pre-meal starvation.
- After you’ve decided how long you think the turkey will take – add 2 hours.
- When testing the turkey’s done-ness, be sure to stick the thermometer, a) All the way in and, b) All the way into the right place in the bird (usually the breast). Otherwise, you will be serving perfectly done thighs and rubbery everything else.
- Don’t dress the salad until the turkey’s done-ness has been confirmed by at least three independent sources.
- When you carve, carve thinly – thin turkey slices soak up gravy far better than thick ones (easier to do the next day when the turkey’s cold).
- Make more stuffing than you ever think you could possibly need.
- No you can’t leave the marshmallows off the sweet potatoes. I tried it once (on principle it still kills me to eat those things for dinner) and you’d swear, I had unveiled boiled chicken.
- If you’re making Brussels Sprouts, don’t’ even think about boiling/steaming them – roast them or skip them.
- There will always be leftover green beans. I know they’re a traditional dish, but no one ever goes back for seconds. If you do cook them, do NOT cook them “al dente” (this is not a summer picnic), they should be soft but not soggy. My favorite way to prepare them is to steam/boil then first, then finish then in a pan with oil, butter, garlic and salt.
- Store-bought chicken broth (unless labeled un-salted) has tons of salt (it’s usually the second ingredient), so if you’re making gravy, do not add salt! And if you do and it tastes like a salt-lick, add some wine and a touch of sugar, it helps.
- When making apple pie, slice apples really finely, it will be much sweetener and more delicious when the apples have become mushy. If you can pick up a slice and it does not flop over, you’ve not cooked it long enough.
- With most pies – cut the sugar. You’re most likely going to be topping the slice with cream or ice cream anyway.
- Don’t ever decline a guest’s offer to do the dishes. And guests - your job is not done just because you brought the best stuffing than everyone swears they’ve ever had.
Add your own “learnings” below and I’ll compile the “best of “ and you can print it out and tape it the fridge for TG 2012 …
Oh and the winner of the KitchenAid stand-mixer, new-subscriber giveaway was Lindsay L. of Maine! Congrats!
Related Posts (Actually more like UN-related – light meals to help get the stomach back to size.)
Quinoa with Adzuki Beans and Avocado
Arugula with Roasted Radishes and Pumpkin Seeds and Goat Cheese
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