Friday, November 11, 2011

Countdown to Thanksgiving

If you haven’t already thought about Thanksgiving, it’s time; we have 2 weeks until the big day, and if you aren’t prepared, it’s time to get your lists out and check them twice. 

Thanksgiving is the holiday that most people stress over; there is family anxiety and there is food anxiety.  The food anxiety can disappear if you follow a few easy guidelines, and (hopefully) read my books on how to make the Do-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner.  Here’s a list of tips to get you started:

  • Get your knives sharpened now; I’ve never cut myself with anything but a dull knife, and during Thanksgiving week, no one will have time to sharpen them for you. 
  • Order your turkey now; figure ¾ pound per person if you want some leftovers, or 1 pound per person if you want to send people home with doggie bags.  Fresh turkeys taste so much better—some of the frozen turkeys may be the ones that were fresh last year.

  • Make up your shopping list now

  •  Divide the shopping list into parts:  Non-perishables---include paper towels, and trash bags if needed.  This would be all the items that are shelf stable and can be stored, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. You can shop for these now---better to get this out of the way.
  • Perishables:  fresh fruits and vegetables --- shop for these 2 to 3 days ahead of the holiday
  • Dairy products and frozen foods:  butter, cream, milk, sour cream, ice cream, frozen veg etc. can all be purchased now, they have long shelf lives in the fridge/freezer.
  • If you are ordering rolls, pick these up the day before
  • Give yourself permission to have someone else do the work; if you have a great bakery, have them make the pies, rolls or desserts.  Veggie trays take 2 to 3 hours for preparing all the veg---go to your warehouse store, buy the veggie tray and make your own dip—no one will ever know!
  • Set your table a few days ahead of time, making sure all your serving dishes will fitJ; cover the table with a sheet, and that will keep the kids/animals and dust off the table.
  • If you are having more than 8 people at the table, set up a buffet for serving, then direct people to the table for seating.

  • To stave off hunger, serve a self-serve soup from your slow cooker, set on warm; guests can help themselves if the smells from the kitchen are making them hungry.
  •  If you can only make two things ahead, make the gravy and mashed potatoes, they are the last minute things that make cooks nutty with the gravy ending up lumpy and the potatoes watery. 
·         These are the top 12 pieces of equipment to pull off the perfect thanksgiving dinner:
o   Heavy Duty Roasting Pan (All-Clad and Mauviel are tops here)
o   Cuisipro roasting rack with removable pin
o   Sauce whisk
o   3-quart saucier for gravy (All-Clad wins here)
o   Emile Henry or Le Creuset oven to tableware
o   Silicone food loops
o   Carving knife ( I prefer one with granton/hollow ground)
o   Silicone basting brush
o   More Than Gourmet©  Turkey Stock Base (reconstitute for gravy)or Superior Touch Better than Bouillon Turkey soup Base
o   Oxo Peeler
o   Meat thermometer (either Taylor/Polder probe, or instant read---I have both )
o   Fat separator (Oxo wins here)

Students always ask what brand of knife I recommend; any high end retail store will carry a selection of good quality knives:  Wusthof, Shun, Messermeister,  and Global are all great brands and it will come down to what feels right in your hand.  If the knife feels too heavy you will never use it, if it feels too light, it will wobble in your hand, and you won’t feel comfortable with it---make sure to test drive the knives (any reputable kitchen store will let you hold the knives, and feel which is right for you)  If you have read this blog, you know where I teach, and the staff at each of these places will take good care of you, making sure that you find the right knife to fit you. 
And promise me you will never carve the turkey at the table!  It's a recipe for disaster! 
I’m on my way home after 3 weeks of teaching pressure cooker classes, and will have more to say on this subject with some new recipes in the coming days.  I hope you have a great day---now get out that list!

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