Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope you and your familiy have a great Holiday.
I also hope you also do not fear the food. To help you alliviate some of the fear that goes with a bountiful dinner, I'm going to give you some web connections that you can use to make you life easier. If it's too late for Turkey day, you may find these tips useful for Christmas.
Most people eat turkey, so let's addresss that first.
One of the problems people face is defrosting/thawing the bird. It just never seems to thaw as fast as the directions say, and then you're faced with a still frozen bird on the day you need to cook it.
I found directions on cooking a frozen bird that I passed on last year in this blog. But, instead of you having to search for it, I'm going to give you a link to one of several pages on the web that have the directions. Go to
This method is also approved by the FDA.
Now, maybe you have purchased a fresh turkey. Here is a way to cook the turkey a day ahead.
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
4 (1½- to 1¾-pound) turkey leg quarters, trimmed
1 (6- to 7-pound) whole bone-in turkey breast, trimmed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Salt and pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Adjust oven racks to middle and lowest positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme in large roasting pan. Set V-rack inside pan. Pat turkey legs and breast dry with paper towels. Arrange 2 legs and breast, skin side up, in V-rack. Brush turkey with butter and season with salt and pepper. Place remaining 2 legs in 13 by 9-inch baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
Place roasting pan on middle rack and baking dish on lower rack. Roast until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 2 to 2½ hours. Transfer 2 legs and breast to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
Transfer vegetables in roasting pan and remaining 2 legs to large pot, scraping up any browned bits. Add broth, water, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to boil. Simmer over medium-low heat until reduced to 5 cups, 1¼ to 1½ hours. Pour through fine-mesh strainer into large container, discarding solids. Let cool for 1 hour, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days. Wrap cooled legs and breast tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Scrape fat from top of chilled stock and reserve 5 tablespoons. Bring stock to simmer in medium saucepan. Set aside ¼ cup stock. Heat reserved fat in large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in remaining 4¾ cups stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced to 4 cups, 12 to 14 -minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Transfer legs and breast to carving board. Separate legs into thighs and drumsticks and arrange on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Cut breast meat from bone into 2 single breasts. Working one at a time, remove skin from breast in 1 piece; reserve. Slice breast crosswise into ¼-inch slices and place on 18 by 12-inch sheet of aluminum foil, keeping slices together. Pour 2 tablespoons reserved stock over each breast and top with reserved skin. Wrap tightly and place on rack with legs.
Roast until turkey is heated through and thighs and drumsticks are crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard breast skin. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with gravy.
You want to discard the legs that you use for the gravy.
I picked up the above recipe from Cooks Country Oct/Nov 2011.
Now, let's address some side dishes, starting with the green bean casserole. Make the traditional casserole, using the cream of mushroom soup, French fried onions, etc. Assemble it per directions, but don't sprinkle the additional onions on top. Cover the dish and refrigerate for up to 2 day. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake the casserole for 45 minutes. Sprinkle the reserved French fried onions on top, and continue baking another 5 mintues. Enjoy.
Remember, you may use fresh green beans or frozen green beans in place of the canned. 1 1/2 pounds fresh, or 18 ounces frozen.
DO-AHEAD MASHED POTATOES
Printed from COOKS.COM
10 med. or 8-9 lg. potatoes
2 (3 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 c. sour cream or plain yogurt (or half each)
2 tsp. onion or plain salt
1 tbsp. minced chives
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp. butter
Grated cheese or paprika
After potatoes are peeled and boiled 20-25 minutes, drain well. Mash until very smooth. Mix cream cheese with sour cream or yogurt, salt, chives and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Place in 2-quart casserole. Cool and cover. Tastes best if refrigerated 12-24 hours before baking. This will keep up to 2 weeks.
At serving time, dot with butter and sprinkle with cheese or paprika. Bake uncovered 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees. They are delicious and do not taste like do-ahead mashed potatoes.
I use recipes from this web site all the time, so even if I haven't made these, I trust it.
If you really want to throw caution to the wind, google up Goody Girls Championship potatoes. This isn't a make ahead recipe, but OMG, these are to die for. We only eat these once per year.
If you do the above recipes, you should have a fairly stress free Thanksgiving, and more time with your loved ones.
If you are serving ham for dinner, I don't recommend baking it in advance. It's better to roast it in a low oven (325) for the recommended time, and don't forget to let it rest before serving.