Thanksgiving can easily be one of the more intimidating holidays, especially for those who aren’t all that experienced in the kitchen. A little bit of healthy anxiety can help keep you on track and prevent disasters, but a major dose of kitchen nerves can lead you toward injury and inedible food. No one wants to spend this food-centric holiday at whichever local restaurant happens to be open. Instead, try these restaurant-worthy tips to help you on your way toward a delicious feast.
Planning Your Meal
Thanksgiving is not the sort of meal to just whip together on the fly. You’ll want to list out all the necessary ingredients for each dish so you can sort through what you already have on hand and what you’ll need to get. On the plus side, doing this in advance means you can more easily shop around for sales and save some money on your big holiday feast. If you’re computer savvy, creating a spreadsheet can help you sort by ingredient and quantity so you don’t accidentally over- or under-buy.
While you’re plotting out your menu, you should also note the time each dish will take to cook and whether or not you could cook it ahead of time and simply reheat on Thanksgiving. We highly recommend cooking as many dishes ahead of time as possible, which will help you feel less harried the day-of. For example, pies can take a while to cook, which monopolizes valuable oven space. However, pies reheat well, and can easily be cooked a few days early.
The other big note we have about timing is this: if you’re making a turkey, be sure you give it ample time to thaw. And no, overnight is not sufficient time to thaw. A fifteen-pound turkey can take upwards of four days to thaw. The general rule of thumb is roughly 24 hours for every five pounds. However, that twelve hours or so of thaw-time is also the best time to brine your bird, which can help keep your turkey moist and provide a boost of flavor.
Chefs are all about planning and preparation; that’s what makes it possible to make and serve hundreds of dishes in an evening. And, one of the key steps is called mise en place. The French phrase translates to “set up,” but a great way to remember is to think of it as getting your “mess in place.” Before you start putting dishes together, take the time to slice, chop, and measure all the necessary ingredients. This way, when it’s time to actually get cooking, you can just put things together and put them on the stove or in the oven.
Another big part of Thanksgiving preparation is ensuring you have the time to relax and stay well rested. If your fridge is crammed full of ingredients for your Thanksgiving feast, get out of the house and feed your family without throwing off your carefully crafted plans. Come visit Vista Village Pub for a fun evening out with your family and friends today!