Turkey Time!

Tips to get you Tipsy on Turkey Day

It's the most wonderful time of the year!! Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the whole year, and I am amped up for the feast.  Check out my tips and tricks to keep you sane, relaxed and confident about the big day, while allowing for a few cocktails in between.

1. Dry Brine Your Bird

Take a bunch of salt, maybe zest some citrus if you're feeling fancy and rub it all over your poultry pal.  Don't forget to season the inside of her, too - sprinkle some of the mixture inside the cavity.  Do this at least 24 hours before go time.  On Turkey Day, get up early and pat the turkey dry.  Bring the turkey to room temperature before she gets her tan on.  Smother the bird in butter and pepper (inside and out and under the skin), and stuff the cavity with quartered lemons, oranges, apples and herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary). Tuck the legs into the tail flap (haha), and the wings behind the breast. 

Then get your roast on.  If the breast is browning too much, cover it with tin foil.

Finally, carve the meat off the bones and present it on a platter.  Take the breasts off whole and slice into thick pieces, place the drumsticks on the platter whole and voila!

2.  Make Everything Ahead

Here's what I make the day before:

  • Mashed potatoes - reheat with a ladle or two of turkey stock or reserved potato water before serving.
  • Bacon Mac and Cheese - Just pop it in the oven while the turkey is resting
  • Green Bean Casserole - see above
  • Brussels Sprout Gratin - another oven pop during turkey nap
  • Cranberry Sauce - it's better chilled, anyway!
  • Turkey stock - take the giblets and neck out of the turkey and add to a big pot of water with quartered onions, roughly chopped carrots and celery, a bay leaf and some salt and pepper - let simmer away while you make everything else.  It can just stay covered on the stove until the big day.

3.  Mise En Place

For the things that you want to make the day of, make sure you have all of your ingredients prepped. 

  • Chop your onion, celery, etc. and bread for the stuffing. 
  • Make a rugged roux by mixing cold butter and flour together and keep it in the fridge so you can just plop it into the turkey drippings for the gravy. 
  • Mix up any bread or roll dough, or prep them on a tray with a damp towel on top.
  • Pre-shred your Brussels sprouts or vegetables,
  • You got this.

4.  Buy Your Pies

If I'm cooking for two days straight, ain't nobody got time for pies.  Lucky for me, I know the best place in town to pick one up!  The Little Red Fox will be making my pie for me :)

Desserts are also a great option to ask friends and family to bring. 

5.  Appoint a Personal Bartender

In my family, I have been cooking Thanksgiving for five years.  Lucky for me, my brothers keep me "well hydrated" throughout the day.  As soon as the clock tolls noon, our family cracks open the spirits.  Make sure you put someone in charge of keeping your drink filled, it just makes the mood more relaxing for everyone. 

Our family tradition: Using the bottles we drink as targets for our annual Red Ryder Thanksgiving shoot out. Life in the woods...

6.  Make a Snack

Make an easy snack or app to keep the vultures away while you cook.  Even though it's a big meal, some people get Hangry before dinner time.  It could be a festive crudi-turkey like the one below, or a pot of butternut squash soup with a toppings bar - whatever it is, make sure it's easy and satisfying.  Nobody likes Hangry family members during Thanksgiving.

All in all, just relax and do what you can - it doesn't have to be fancy.  It's about being with your family and enjoying a day together sharing a meal.  Whatever you cook, be thankful for the food you have to eat and the people gathered around you to eat it with. 

May you all have a Happy Hangry Thanksgiving!