Not everyone has experience putting together a Thanksgiving meal and even those who do could use a few helpful hints for this once a year task.
Especially where the timing and preparation is concerned.
With only a week to go, time is of the essence, so this is what the Thanksgiving hostess with the mostest should be doing seven days out according to one holiday website.
Prepare a cooking schedule and create a seating plan because being organized is the key to a stress free turkey day.
Review your recipes and make a day-by-day schedule leading up to the most important – the day of.
For those preparing for more formal guests, place cards should be made for the aforementioned seating plan. Unless you come from a family where everybody gets along, this could be tricky. And following so close after what the pundits keep calling an “unprecedented” election, it could be downright impossible and worse case, dangerous.
4 Days Before
Defrost your turkey and buy perishable ingredients. Thawing a frozen turkey takes time and patience. The best way to thaw the bird is in the coldest spot in the fridge with a pan underneath to catch the drips.
For those who brine, now is the time. Find a simple recipe that maximizes taste but minimizes prep. Today is also the day to join the crowds at the grocery store and pick up perishable items like fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, heavy cream and bakery items.
2 Days Before
If you are part of the Martha Stewart set you will be making homemade cranberry sauce and preparing those pie crusts. Our holiday meal guide tells us to try fresh cranberries instead of canned this year. Also if you really like cranberries buy an extra bag for the freezer. They last up to a year. And because of its high acidity, cranberry sauce stays fresh for two weeks in the fridge.
Now to those pie crusts, if you are someone who is ahead of the game who made and froze the pie crusts, take them out today. If not now is the time to get out the rolling pin. After preparing the crusts, wrap them in plastic wrap and find a spot in the fridge.
Also if you made frozen stock, defrost that too. If not make sure you have a can or carton of stock on hand for the big day. It adds flavor to turkey, potatoes and vegetables.
First take a deep breath and convince yourself you will get through the day in tact and in one piece. (Especially if your seating plan is not diplomatically challenged).
Second prepare reheatable side dishes, such as casseroles or creamed onions, and bake your pies, especially Pecan Pie which needs an overnight to cool off.
If you are making homemade stuffing from stale bread now is the time to cut the bread into squares and put on a baking sheet to dry out. Along with stuffing ingredients prepare garnishes, toppings and salad greens.
Most of all don’t stress. Sticking to your day-of plan can help.
Begin the holiday by preheating the oven and getting your turkey in there.
Next get the wine and beer in the fridge. Remember you are going for stress free.
While the turkey roasts, prepare sides which can be left out for an hour before serving. They can also be put in the oven at low temps for warm keeping.
When the big bird is finally done, take it out of the oven, let it rest before its big debut and make your gravy as family helpers reheat side dishes and prep salads.
Wrap rolls in foil and place in the oven.
You are ready to feast.
If however, the turkey is dryer than the Griswold’s on “Christmas Vacation,” or the oven breaks down mid roast, or you just work too hard all week and want a real holiday for yourself, there are places in the area to go for a holiday meal and all that goes with it.
At Clancys Tavern in Neptune, a full three course turkey dinner is being offered for $16.99 with the full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu also available.
Manager Michael Reid said, “It will be a great atmosphere, stop by for a holiday drink after the big meal.”
Reid said the restaurant began opening on Thanksgiving in 2004 and found it to be so successful they kept it up. The package goods store there will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m..
The holiday dinner will start being served at 1 p.m.
McGillicuddy’s Lakeside Taphouse is offering two seatings for a full course turkey or prime rib dinner at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Reservations are required accompanied by a $25 deposit.
Server Samantha Chapman said platters of turkey or prime rib along with all the fixin’s are $28.95. Parties of five or more can order one whole turkey at $30.95 per person.
Children 12 and under are $18.95 and those five and under are free.
Chapman said the restaurant has been serving Thanksgiving dinner for the past several years with reservations filling up quickly every year.
And Kim Marie’s Eat and Drink Away on Kingsley Avenue in Asbury Park will also be open and serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.