11/22/2011 1:24 AM
Make a Game Plan
While you may be tempted to just start cooking, unless you have multiple ovens and stoves at your disposal, you will need to schedule it out. I often make some of the food the day before or in the morning and then just reheat it later. In fact, for things like the green bean casserole and honey glazed carrots, I think they taste better the next day because it lets the flavors sink in more. So, decide on a meal time, schedule out how long it will take to cook the bird and then determine how long it will take you to make each side dish and what needs to go in the oven. To see the menu used for this schedule, view Guide To Turkey Day: Part 1 - How Do I Plan A Thanksgiving Menu?
My Thanksgiving Day cooking schedule looks like this:
Start at 9 am:
- I start this based on a turkey that is 18 – 20 lbs and will cook approximately 4-5 hours and will be ready to eat dinner at 5-6 pm. You may need to begin later or earlier depending on the size of your bird and how much you can cook at once.
- Clean, peel and cut up potatoes and get them to a boil. Get out the ingredients to make the other sides.
- Pop the cranberry sauce cans in the fridge so they are chilled for later.
- While the potatoes are going, get the Honey Glazed Carrots ready. I cheat and use baby carrots! Get them going in another pot on the stove according to the recipe.
- In another pan I get the Green Bean Casserole mixed together and put that in the oven to cook until it is almost finished cooking. I leave the top layer of fried onions off until I reheat later in the day after the turkey is done.
- Finally, I get the stuffing going. I don’t stuff the actual turkey, so I make mine on the side. There are many recipes and all are good, so just find one that looks yummy and try it out. I keep a couple boxes of stuffing around just in case something goes wrong.
By 11:00 am:
- Begin the bird prep (see Part 3 of this series for my recipe and Turkey Tips)
- When the green bean casserole is done, I put the highlight of the holiday in the oven to roast. Let the casserole cool off then stick it in the fridge to wait its turn for reheat. oven (take it out about 30 minutes before the turkey is done so it can get to room temp before it goes in the oven, it takes less time to warm up this way)
- When the turkey is done, put the green bean casserole back in the oven and reheat the carrots on the stove.
- Make the mashed potatoes while the turkey is cooking and then pop the rolls in the oven with the green bean casserole. When it is all bubbly on top I add the fried onions and stick it back in till browned.
- Now you have the whole meal ready to go: turkey is done and resting, green bean casserole is browning, carrots are glazing, mashed potatoes are being potato-like, rolls are heating and gravy can either be made from scratch or poured from a jar.
- Don't forget to take the cranberry sauce out of the fridge and plut them into some bowls; I like to slice them to make it easier to serve.
Now that you have your day scheduled, it’s Turkey Time! Check out my favorite turkey recipe and great cooking tips in Part 3 of the series.
Photo Source: SXC