This coming Thanksgiving will be my third time cooking the big meal all by myself. You would think that I would be relaxed and know what I am doing; which is so not the case! For some reason this Thanksgiving has me all frazzled. I am researching how to time out the dinner so things stay warm and when to pop which dish in the oven with what. It is like a well choreographed dance routine that someone has yet to teach me.
For a little perspective and because every person that has cooked a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal has at least one crazy oh my goodness story. I want to let you into my kitchen for last Thanksgiving. I was cooking dinner for my folks, great aunt, and two of my friends, this is a total of 6 people including myself. Seems simple enough, I got myself a fresh 15 lb turkey so I wouldn’t have to deal with defrosting and that I would be able to brine the turkey. (Fun Fact: you can’t brine a frozen turkey because they put saline inside the bird to help them freeze faster so you would get an extremely salty bird, if you brined it) It is now Turkey day it started out easy, woke up took the bird out gave it its bath and then popped that baby in the oven. I then made my butter wine basting mixture and got to roasting. I basted every 30 mins and my bird started turning that gorgeous brown color and things were just peachy. Then I got a call from my friend who said they decided that they were going to go to their coworkers house instead of mine; so here I was a planned dinner for 6 turned into 4. The upside is at least there would be less people not more at my dinner, but that still sucked to hear the day of. So I am back to basting and thinking of all the yummy leftovers we will have, then bam out of nowhere the bird was unexpectedly done! What!? How can it be done it should have at least one more hour to go, and my guests aren’t going to be here for over an hour. So here I was frantically calling my parents telling them to get over here because the turkey was done early. Which then meant that I had to rush to cook everything else because I thought I had a whole hour left to cook the sides. So I am sure your thinking this doesn’t seem that exciting or funny; and you are right up until this point it isn’t unless you could see me trying to get a hold of the folks; who of course aren’t answering their phones, running around my kitchen boiling water for potatoes, trying to get the bread out of the can and into crescent rolls, and then ultimately forgetting to get the gravy started. All while trying to keep the bird covered so it would stay warm while I waited for my step-dad to get there and carve that sucker. Because this girl still has no clue hot to carve a turkey or chicken without it just being chunks.
So here I am with a dinner done too early and the sides only partially done when everyone finally gets to the house. I get them into their seats and start laying all the food out that was done, while finishing the gravy that I initially forgot about. Then we eat and it is all delicious even with all the chaos. Now stay with me, I still haven’t gotten to my crazy funny Thanksgiving story. We finish our meal and I enlist my step-dad to finish taking the bird down to the bone so we can put the leftovers in the fridge. He is happily carving away and pulling the meat off then all of a sudden he stops and asks if the meat looks cooked. I was like what are you talking about of course it is cooked it was the right temp and we already finished eating. Well it turns out that the top 7/8ths of the bird was cooked but the bottom portion was not. So even though the turkey said it was done and registered at the right temp it wasn’t actually cooked all the way. Now the crazy part is how does the bottom of the bird be the only part that doesn’t cook? This is closest to the heating element of my stove. Also this wasn’t the first time I have ever cooked a turkey it was my second, and the first one was perfect if I do say so myself, so I had no doubts that I could manage a turkey last year. Well obviously I can only manage 7/8ths of a turkey.
Which brings me to this Thanksgiving, I think I am freaking out and am unable to focus because I am scared I am going to only cook 7/8ths of my turkey this year and I really do not want to repeat that. But the other issue I am thinking about is how do you keep the turkey warm while you cook all the other sides. Every blog post I read says they let their turkey rest from 30 mins to an hour before carving and it is still hot. How is this possible? I can’t even let a whole chicken rest sitting covered on my counter keep warm for 15 mins. So how do these people manage a whole hour?
Luckily I get a little reprieve because football controls our family life and the Green Bay Packers are playing Thanksgiving Day my parents and I will be at the local Packer bar to watch the game. Which means we will be having our Thanksgiving on Friday, which allows me one extra day to do things. Especially since as of today I still haven’t done a single ounce of shopping; but I have made multiple shopping lists so that is a step in the right direction. I think. I am planning to make the stuffing from scratch for the first time, brine my turkey for at least 24hrs, and bake my first apple pie in years. Since I am freaking out I am considering making the mashed potatoes in the crockpot. A lot of the recipes I read online seem to really like the set it and forget it approach, but at the same time what if they suck then I don’t have any potatoes. I think I need someone to tell me to calm the heck down things will be fine and who cares really. Worse case scenario we have to go out and eat.
So what is one of your oh my goodness stories or do you have a tried and true tip to make the turkey day schedule a breeze? Please leave me a comment below so I know I am not the only one freaking out over how to accomplish a holiday meal!
When I was a kid, my mom popped the Christmas turkey in the oven at 5 am. (Back then we would have 20-30 people over for dinner) So after she popped it in, she also popped open a bottle of champagne (yes at 5 am!)… Fast forward 6-7 hrs later, the turkey is done, but my mom hadn’t peeled a potato, made the green bean casserole, gravy, etc… I think we all have some kind of crazy Christmas/Thanksgiving meal story! 🙂 So how did the turkey turn out this year?
Well instead of the turkey cooking super fast like last year and then not being done, this year it seemed to take forever. So I have mastered not getting dinner ready at the approved dinnertime. 🙂 Luckily the brine I used from William Sonoma was fantastic so it tasted delicious even though it took an extra hour to cook! Overall it was a very smooth process, just it taking longer to cook meant my oven wasn’t free to cook all the sides. I also learned that frozen green beans are too fresh for green bean casserole, the consensus was you should only used canned lol.