A Couple Thanksgiving Tips.
I posted this last year with a few edits for this year.
I have been a professional cook for about 20 years. I own a restaurant and I have hosted Thanksgiving on a number of occasions. I rarely post about food and cooking on the boards but I decided that this year I would share a few tips on Thanksgiving day entertaining.
Criticism is welcome as well as other tips.
!. When your guests ask about what to bring do not forget about appetizers. This is very important. For one you can still control The Dinner. Second you avoid guests asking to heat things up in your already over packed oven. And the apps arrive as the people arrive. Perfect really. The social eating and filled app table create a festive atmosphere. and keep the pressure off the kitchen if in fact the turkey or whatever is taking a bit longer than expected.
Drinks are always an issue. Not that there are not enough but with 5 kinds of beer and wine and sodas egg nog all packed in your already packed fridge your workspace (kitchen) will have way to much traffic People all jammed in trying to get things and asking questions. and looking for cups and trash and all sorts of stuff. Have a drink table set up and some coolers. This will help immensely. Have a guest or two bring a cooler or a mini fridge or something. with ice and a small trash can nearby. This will keep the kitchen traffic way down. Another thing guests can help with.
Let the guests help. 80% of the female guests will offer to help in some way or another. Have ready a few simple jobs. The want to help in order to do something and get socializing. Make it small and easy. Fill the ice cooler, put out some napkins. whatever. Just simple and easy and something you already had planned out for a guest to help with. You really don’t want a bunch of people all rummaging about your kitchen.
Be ready for spills. They will happen. Have a wet washcloth and some paper towels handy. Keep it by the drink table/area . That is were they will happen. Something for the guest to do.
Make several lists.
A guest list. On that you can put specific jobs for them. And items they can bring.
A menu. Look at it often you will not forget anything that way. It is so sad to remember after Thanksgiving dinner when it is all over and the cranberry sauce or whatever is still in the fridge.
A list of ingredients.
And any other thing you need to keep track of.
Put them on the fridge and consult them often.
Keep your kitchen clean. Stop every 30 min or so while preparing and do the dishes and sweep the floor. I do not care how far behind you are or what DO THIS.
Do not attempt to many new dishes. I suggest only one really if you can. Otherwise stick with what you know. It is super fun making new dishes and looking up recipes, but do not get carried away. Just add one or two.
Do not get over burdened with everything coming out at the same time. This is almost impossible with a full kitchen staff and several large ovens. Just wrap things with foil when it is ready and put it on the serving table . When the last item is ready uncover everything. It will be fine.
Do not over burden yourself with the turkey. Get a thermometer and take the birds temp. Of all the 1000’s or recipes you will find and all the hubbub even a seasoned Thanksgiving entertainer can get quite overwhelmed. THE BIRDS TEMP TRUMPS ALL RECIPES. A plane unseasonal bird chucked into a 375 degree oven till the thigh reads 155-65 carry over temp will take it the rest of the way will make a better bird than any newfangled, brined, fried, stuffed, whatever that got over or under cooked. Of course you can improve on this a bit with some seasoning and your own style but just remember about temp.
Above all relax. This is a fun holiday. Make it a non stress as possible. Let people help but try and stay organized and know what you in fact need help with. Keep clean and remember It is just family and friends. They love you and all will be grand.
Bonus.Tip, Make all your desserts the day ahead. And whatever else you can as well.
Just about everything will be OK made the day ahead. People are gonna overeat. Subtle nuances in the foods flavor and temp will go largely unrecognized. And the trade off is relaxation less stress and a more festive atmosphere.
Pro tip: Do not stay up late the night before. I do not care how far behind you are. Get some rest. go to sleep by 10 pm eat breakfast.
Keep up with the dishes. You probably don’t have enough for dinner and desserts for all those people coming over. Toss them in the dish washer immediately. Do them fast so you don’t have to many people helping in the kitchen.
Really have fun