How To: Thanksgiving Dinner Tips & Planning Guide (Part I) | COVALEY Serving Utensils

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How To: Thanksgiving Dinner Tips & Planning Guide (Part I)

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/blog/Covaley-Thanksgiving-Planning-1200w.jpgCourtesy of Master Chef Dale Miller

Engage the family in creating a menu, preparing the food, setting the table, or tidying up the house. It will promote closeness of family, a satisfaction of learning, and fond memories.

3 Weeks Before Thanksgiving:

Three weeks before, make your guest lists, plan your menu, and gather recipes.

Make three shopping lists; the first to buy your non-perishable ingredients ten days before, perishables to buy one week before, and perishables to buy two days before.

Don't be afraid to ask for help and engage guests to bring a dish to help ease the workload.

Check your kitchen equipment and serving ware inventory:Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/images/Covaley-Tools-Shot_1200w.jpg

  • Roasting pan and rack large enough for your turkey
  • Assorted sauce pots, sauté pans and skillets
  • Chef’s knife, paring knife and vegetable peeler
  • Cutting board, large, medium, and small
  • Meat thermometer
  • Tongs, ladles, spatulas and kitchen spoons
  • Potholders and kitchen side towels
  • Mixing bowls, measuring cups/spoons
  • Fine mesh strainer for gravy
  • Gravy boat
  • Place setting for each guest
  • Glassware, water goblets, wine glasses, rocks, and highball glasses
  • Tablecloths and napkins (pressed and ready to go)
  • Platters and serving dishes for every dish you plan to serve
  • Dining chairs or folding chairs for each guest
  • Assorted sizes of COVALEY for handling hot dishes and contact-free serving

2 Weeks Before Thanksgiving:

If you plan to use a fresh turkey, order it now.

Make and freeze certain dishes now, such as cranberry relish, stuffing, casseroles, and soups.
Note: Make sure you have plenty of storage and to-go containers on hand.

Use disposable foil pans as much as possible to help cut down on washing pans. Also, use zip lock bags for your prepped raw foods and line sheet pans with foil to cut down on extra clean up.

1 Week Before Thanksgiving:

If purchasing a frozen turkey, buy it now.

Depending on the size of the frozen turkey, it will take 24 hours per 4 pounds of bird to defrost in the fridge. Make sure that you place the turkey on a sheetpan or in a roasting pan so that the juices will not leak all over your refrigerator shelf.

If your refrigerator is small and you cannot defrost the turkey in advance, fully submerge the turkey in a cold-water bath in your sink or in a large pot, allowing 30 minutes per pound to defrost. Do this the day before your celebration. Make sure to change the water every 30 minutes when using this method.

What size turkey to buy:

For whole birds under 16 pounds, you will need 1 pound of turkey for each guest or 1½ pounds of turkey for each guest is you're looking for ample leftovers. For whole birds over 16 pounds, you can plan on a little less, as there is usually more meat per pound of bird.

The Weekend Before Thanksgiving:

Clean out the refrigerator and organize both your refrigerator and freezer to make more space.

3 Days Before Thanksgiving:

Just three days to go! Make your gravy using pre-made turkey stock and store it in the refrigerator. After you’ve roasted the turkey on Thanksgiving Day, add some fresh sage, a cup of sherry or white wine, and a cup of turkey stock to the roasting pan and bring to a simmer. Then, add your prepared gravy to the pan, simmering and whisking the mixture until the gravy is smooth. Strain the gravy through a fine mesh strainer and adjust consistency and taste.

The gravy should be the consistency of maple syrup and just coat the back of a spoon. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

2 Days Before Thanksgiving:

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/blog/Knife-chopping-veggies-1200w.jpgAll hands on deck! Two days before the big day, prep, prep, prep!

  • Make desserts, pumpkin, or nut breads.
  • Peel and trim vegetables and potatoes.
  • Prepare salad ingredients.
  • Blanch and chill vegetables such as beans, carrots, asparagus.
  • Pre-measure seasonings and spices.
  • Place the stuffing, cranberry relish and any other frozen items in the refrigerator to thaw.

1 Day Before Thanksgiving:

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/blog/Plates-COVALEY-picnic-setup-1200w.jpgMake mashed potatoes and chill in a microwavable dish.

Lay out your platters and baking dishes and label each dish with a sticky note as to which food will be served on or in it. If you are hosting a buffet-style dinner, stage the dishes in the area so that you know that they will fit.

Start with your stack of plates, then salad, rolls, breads, soups, side dishes, stuffing, potatoes, turkey and gravy last. Dessert should be staged in a different area than were the family is dining if possible. If not, when you are done with dinner, clear dinner items and re-stage for dessert.

If serving family style on the table, make sure to have trivets already set for the arrival of hot dishes. You can carry and pass hot dishes easily with a COVALEY serving utensil.

Set and decorate the table. Make it simple by using an autumn leaf garland down the center of the table. Then, just intersperse some votive candles, small fresh oranges or mini pumpkins, and some fresh floral heads for a pop of color.

The Night Before Thanksgiving:

Cut up cheeses and cured meats for the stationary appetizer platter.

Remove turkey from the packaging and remove neck and giblets from the cavity.

Brine the turkey if desired, then pat the turkey dry. Do not rinse with water.

Fill the cavity of the turkey with rough-cut onion, carrot, celery, and some fresh herbs such as parsley, sage, thyme, or rosemary. You may add a cut lemon or whole garlic cloves if desired.

Tuck the wings under the body and truss the legs together. Place the rough-cut onion, carrot, and celery in the bottom of the roasting pan, cover with film, and keep refrigerated.

It's Here! Thanksgiving Day:

To roast the turkey, preheat conventional oven to 350°F. If using a convection oven, preheat to 325°F.

Mix together ½ cup melted butter and ¼ cup olive oil and drizzle evenly over the entire bird. Season with salt, pepper, and Bell’s poultry seasoning. Add 2 cups of chicken or turkey broth to the pan.

Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 160°F. (Cover turkey loosely with foil if it browns too quickly and add more broth to pan if vegetables begin to scorch.)

Transfer turkey to cutting board set in rimmed baking sheet (to catch juices while carving). Cover loosely with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes. Add any additional juices to the gravy. Carve and garnish turkey as desired.

While turkey is roasting, put together your stationary appetizers and some self-serve drinks to set out for when guests arrive. A stationary charcuterie board of assorted cheeses and meats, with dips, fresh fruit, nuts, olives, crackers, and breads is an elegant and simple way to start. Pair that with a pitcher of Autumn Sangria or lemonade, hot mulled cider, craft beers, or sparkling flavored non-alcoholic beverages.

Other Helpful Tips:

  • Cook what you know and don’t take risks with complicated dishes; Good home-spun recipes will be your best bet.
  • Make sure to make ice and bag it a week in advance.
  • Clear your counters of clutter, décor, mail, or any equipment you won’t be using.
  • Don’t be ashamed to buy some of your Thanksgiving dishes at the market.
  • Have a coffee maker set up along with assorted sugars, milk, half and half, or cream available.
  • Have plenty of to-go containers available for guests to take home any leftovers.
  • If you live in a colder climate, utilize the garage, covered porch, or large cooler to store food items that won’t fit in your fridge or freezer. Just make sure the temperature is cold enough (38°F or below) so that you won’t have food spoilage.

Plate. Serve. Share. With COVALEY Serving Utensils.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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