I remember the first time I did the Thanksgiving turkey, I know I sound old… I’m not though, I swear! Anyway, the first time I roasted the turkey I took tips from Ina Garten; I didn’t stuff the turkey with stuffing, I stuffed it with aromatics. The aromatics steam as they cook and give off the most incredible flavour. There is one very important tip that I share with you in my Roasted Chicken (interchangeable with Roasted Turkey) recipe but I’ll repeat it here: let the turkey rest, covered with foil for exactly 20 minutes; this will take an average turkey to superior heights! Making the Thanksgiving dinner isn’t difficult; it’s one recipe after the other of your favourite fall fare. With that said, a little strategy doesn’t hurt! So I’m going to show you what my Thanksgiving dinner is going to consist of. I’ll show you the recipes and outline when I’ll prep what, and most importantly, I’ll let you know what time I’m going to put my turkey in the oven!
Here is our menu:
That was Brined
Sometimes we have:
Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Potatoes instead of the mashed potatoes
Yes, tomatoes and a salad are on every Thanksgiving table in our house, they help cut the richness of everything else on the table. One thing you may notice is missing; stuffing! IF we do have it, it’s boxed!!! Oh and the cranberry sauce comes out of a can (just like Bart Simpson’s). Take the help where you can get it.
Our dinner is traditionally served on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend so I’ll break everything down for you as if that’s when we’d eat (my sister is a nurse and has to work this weekend so we’re celebrating our Thanksgiving next weekend!).
So the first thing I do is the turkey brine; if we are going to eat on Sunday then I have to have the turkey in the brine exactly 24 hours and 15 minutes prior to the turkey going in the oven. This sounds intimidating but it’s really not! Basically you need to let the turkey sit in the brine for 24 hours and then sit in cold clean water for 15 minutes. The key about the brine is allowing enough time for the temperature to come down because it needs to be cold for the turkey to go in it. So if we eat at 2:00 pm (European thing!) and the turkey is going to need to be in the oven for 4 hours (just an example) and I have to allow time for the turkey to rest, I’ll put the turkey in the brine at 9:15 am on Saturday morning:
The turkey comes out of the brine at 9:15 on Sunday morning; it sits in the cold water until 9:30. It goes in the oven (prepped as recipe outlines, give yourself 10 minutes to do this) at 9:40, roasts until 1:40 and then gets covered for 20 minutes. The turkey will be rested and ready to be carved at 2:00 on Sunday. I have been called a kitchen drill sergeant because I run a tight ship!
So how do I know the brine will be ready for Saturday morning? I’ll cook it on Friday morning or Thursday night. I have to bring the brine to a boil and then I have to allow it to cool to room temperature before I put it in the fridge to cool completely. To be perfectly honest here, I have been known to set my alarm for the middle of the night to facilitate a good dinner! Also, the brine can be made a day or two ahead, give yourself a break! I should also point out though; the Turkey is delicious even if you skip the brine. Check out the Roasted Chicken recipe.
Here’s a link to the turkey brine recipe:
Here’s a link to Roasting the turkey:
Here’s the picture of a brined turkey again:
and roasted turkey:
Now I’ll let you in on a little secret; a lot of my recipes call for roasting veggies at 400 or 425 but in the interest of the turkey, I’ll roast my veggies at 375 on Thanksgiving!
So once the turkey is in the oven, I set out to prep the veggies and potatoes. I clean all the veggies at the same time. Then when everything is washed I strategize what is going in the oven next. I’m lucky because I can fit two roasting pans in my oven on one shelf. So on one side is the turkey and then on the other side will be the potatoes and underneath the potatoes will be the Brussels Sprouts Gratin. I also tend to give myself a little help with the sides, I’ll let the potatoes sit in the oven a little longer then necessary, just in case!
I’ll prep the potatoes first; get them in the pan with the herbs, garlic and olive oil and then I’ll put them in the oven around 12:50 (see above!), plus you want to allow yourself some time to mash the mashed potatoes!
The gratin can also be prepped ahead of time because it will cook in the oven so that’s what I’ll do next; prepare the gratin up until the part where is goes in the oven. I’ll put the Gratin in the oven around 1:20 because it can go from the oven straight to the table.
I’ll prep the gravy next; I’ll have the stock sitting in the pot with the thyme ready to go and I’ll have the cornstarch and water mixture sitting beside the pot ready to go! I’ll turn the heat on the gravy with 5 minutes left to spare before the turkey gets carved.
The tomatoes will be ready to go minus the salt; they get seasoned just before they are placed on the table (otherwise they’ll go soggy)
The salad will get dressed just before it goes out as well (we tend to use the white wine vinaigrette).
Once the turkey is about to get carved (with about 10 minutes to go) I’ll prepare the mashed potatoes; they’ll go out to the table. Then I’ll do the seasoning on the tomatoes and the dressing on the salad. Then I’ll start the gravy. Once the gravy is in the gravy boat and on it’s way to the table, my dad will start to carve the turkey. He always carves it in the kitchen and then puts the meat on the platter.
After we eat too much, we have dessert! Store-bought pumpkin pie (why mess with tradition?)
Now this is called My Surviving the Holiday Dinner Guide, this guide will work for any holiday dinner. I guarantee at our Thanksgiving dinner we’ll start discussing Christmas dinner.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope I helped!