Decanting wine basic information

A timeline for preparing Thanksgiving meal

The single most important thing when it comes to a big meal is planning.

This timeline can be altered to suit your needs, but generally speaking, this should fit most planning.

Up to several weeks in advance

-Write out your menu

-Refer to any recipes if needed

-Print out all the recipes you need

-Write a shopping list based on that menu

(Read entire recipes before writing a shopping list)

-Check your kitchen to determine if you have enough oven and refrigerator space

-Check if you have enough pots and pans, serving platters, utensils, glasses, etc.

-Utilizing post-its, write what each platter is for, and stick it on the pot.

-Don’t forget about random items such as a meat thermometer

-Write out a schedule of prep

-What about decorations?  

-Do you have extra containers for leftovers?

-Guestlist. Reach out to those you wish to invite and determine if anyone has any dietary regulations

-Order a turkey from your local store, or purchase one and freeze it

-Get your beverages, wine, beer, etc.

-Purchase decorations

-It is common to overlook the most widely used items such as salt and sugar, so keep that in mind when making your grocery list. 

Two weeks before

-Start depleting your refrigerator and freezer to make space. In other words, start eating everything.

-Make and freeze pie dough.

-Make and freeze stock

-Make and freeze soup. If your soup requires cream or eggs, make the soup without those items for freezing, then add them when reheating to serve.

-Shop for non-perishables 

 Five days before

-Start thawing your turkey

-Make the stock if you did not freeze it

 Four days before

-Make all sauces, soup, cranberry relish, dips, and salad dressings

-Make the soup if you did not freeze it

Three days before 

-Stuffing (don’t cook it)

-Make and cook potato gratin (if applicable and if you are serving as I posted where you cut it into squares and present that way)

-If you did not freeze pie crust, make that now

 Five days before

-Start thawing your turkey

-Make the stock if you did not freeze it

 Four days before

-Make all sauces, soup, cranberry relish, dips, and salad dressings

-Make the soup if you did not freeze it

Three days before 

-Stuffing (don’t cook it)

-Make and cook potato gratin (if applicable and if you are serving as I posted where you cut it into squares and present that way)

-If you did not freeze pie crust, make that now

Pies

Two days before

-Make/bake any desserts that can be made ahead, such as pies and trifles.

The day before

You want everything prepped, so the only thing required on Thanksgiving is to cook items or reheat them. 

-Par-cooking of vegetables

-Set up any items to be roasted in the roasting pan, season them and cover with plastic, then place in the refrigerator. Then, on Thanksgiving, you only need to remove the fridge items and put them in the oven.

Set up anything to be served cold (such as salads, dips, dressings, relish, etc.) in appropriate serving dishes, cover them with plastic, and place in the refrigerator. Thirty minutes before the meal, place these items on the table, and they’re ready to serve.

If you wish to cook your turkey from a raw state on Thanksgiving Day, remove the bag of giblets, rub the turkey down with some oil and seasoning, place on a roasting tray, wrap and place in the refrigerator. The only thing needed the next morning is to remove it from the fridge and place it in the oven.

If you are short on space, par-cook your turkey halfway the day before. The benefit of this is it shortens the cooking time on Thanksgiving and frees up valuable oven space. 

Par-cooking a bird the day before will not affect the quality or taste of the final dish. 

If you choose this route, once par-cooked, let the turkey cool to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator.

In restaurants that serve half a roasted chicken, par-cooking the birds is a tactic employed to cut down cooking times during dinner.

The night before

-Empty all trash cans

-Make sure all dishes are washed and put away

-Set the table

-Clean the kitchen

-Set up your kitchen as you need it, organizing pots, pans, and other items, so the next morning, you don’t have to waste time organizing your kitchen. You walk in your kitchen and rock and roll right away. 

-Do a mental “walk-through” of executing the entire meal. Visualize each item you need to do and what you need for it.

The morning of

-If needed, get bags of ice and load up coolers to chill drinks to free up refrigerator space

-30 minutes before guests arrive, start a fresh pot of coffee, if needed

30-45 minutes before the meal

Place anything chilled (salads, wine, appetizers, hors d’ oeuvres, etc.) on the table

Now, go enjoy your meal:)

Pies

About the author

Curt Sassak is the president of Winetasters Choice, a promotional agency based in Texas and serving seven states. Curt is a 35-year veteran of the food and beverage industry, with the first 27 years of his career spent as a chef.

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