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  1. Tuesday, November 20

    Thanksgiving Prep: Timing

    Timing is everything, right? That couldn’t be truer than when you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner. ESPECIALLY if you only have 1 oven. It is tricky. I thought I’d share my schedule – hopefully it’s helpful to some of you out there.

    Quick Jane tip – once the turkey goes in the oven and I know approximate times for everything (based on schedule below), I write the schedule with specific times on post-it notes and stick that to the wall above the oven, That way I don’t forget when to do things. It helps so much!

    A few days prior:

    • Get that frozen turkey in the fridge! You need 1 day for every 4 pounds to defrost a turkey in the fridge, and trust me, it’s much better to defrost this way rather than in water in your sink (that’s the fast way, but truly not as effective…think, partially frozen turkey Thanksgiving morning).
    • My now-favorite way to cook turkey is to spatchcock and dry brine the turkey. In this case, buy a fresh, un-brined turkey 3 days before Thanksgiving and begin the dry brine process.

    Tuesday:

    • Cut up bread for stuffing. I cut white sandwich bread into bite-sized cubes, spread on cookie sheets and leave out in open air to dry out.

    Wednesday:

    • Make the desserts/pies.
    • Make any casseroles that can sit in the fridge overnight.
    • The first half of my family’s Cranberry Slush needs to be prepared the day before (but can be prepared even earlier if you want).
    • For the years I make squash rolls, I cook the squash the day before.

    Thanksgiving Day:

    • Make the stuffing. (Whatever stuffing doesn’t fit in the turkey, refrigerate until later.)
    • Prep & stuff turkey in the morning and get in the oven. Butterball has an awesome online guide, which includes a calculator to determine how long you need to cook your turkey. My 13 pound stuffed turkey will take 3 3/4 – 4 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. NOTE: If you use my new technique of spatchcocking the turkey, then the turkey will cook much faster and you can put it in the oven a little later than normal.
    • Prepare side dishes that couldn’t be made ahead of time.
    • About 2 hours before turkey is done, begin making rolls. (Click here for my favorite crescent roll recipe.)
    • About 1 hour before turkey is done, prepare mashed potatoes. Keep in pan with lid on until dinner.
    • When turkey is done, take out of oven and cover with foil until later. Casseroles and stuffing can now go in the oven. When those dishes are done, bake the rolls last.
    • Heat up any pre-prepared dishes near the end.
    • Make gravy while casseroles are cooking.
    • Mix cranberry slush at the VERY END right as everyone sits down to eat!

    Just writing this up is making me tired. Glad I have my sister here as sous-chef. 🙂 Even though it’s a lot of work, it is totally worth it – I can’t wait to eat it all!


  2. Saturday, November 17

    Thanksgiving Prep: Stuffing

    Below is my mom’s stuffing recipe. This is what I make every year – it’s not fancy, but it is so good. There are TONS of fancier recipes out there that I’m sure are delicious, but I like my stuffing simple & straightforward. As with all my mom’s recipes, there are no measurements. So sorry!!! Also, there’s lots of good info in the comments on the Gravy post, so make sure you read them!

    Quick note on more Thanksgiving Prep posts to come: Tomorrow I will share my entire menu for Thanksgiving, including recipes. Monday is all about dessert – so get your favorite recipes to share ready! Tuesday is about timing the meal prep – this is probably the trickiest part of cooking on Thanksgiving. Wednesday…we may be done, we shall see! The coutdown begins!

    Stuffing
     
    As taught to me by mom. Measurements are mine, based on her very vague instructions over the years 🙂
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 loaf cheap white bread, cut into small cubes
    • ½ of a medium yellow onion
    • 1-2 stalks celery, diced
    • 1-2 carrots, grated
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon dried sage
    • 1 stick butter melted
    • ½ cup - 1 cup chicken stock
    • 1 egg well beaten
    Instructions
    1. After you have cubed the bread, let it sit out for a couple days to get stale OR bake in a 200º F oven for about 20 minutes until bread is starting to harden.
    2. Melt butter in large pan on the stove. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add celery and carrots and cook over low for about 5 minutes.
    3. Whisk together the egg, salt, pepper and sage.
    4. In a very large bowl, combine the cubed bread with the egg and butter/veggie mixture. Add stock, ¼ cup at a time, until it seems like the right amount of moisture.
    5. Bake in a 350º F oven until hot all the way through. You can also stuff some of this in the bird then mix the "stuffed" stuffing with the "non-stuffed" stuffing and combine well.
    6. I always double, triple or quadruple the recipe, depending on how many people are coming! 🙂