It seems that there are two different schools of thought about Thanksgiving. Either you want to make everything (or nearly everything) on Thanksgiving day, or you like to cook as much as possible ahead of time so that you can relax and enjoy the holiday. This theory holds true with our callers and the AnswerLine staff. We thought it would be fun to compare methods so that you can choose the right method for your family.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. There isn’t much to be done ahead of time, besides planning and grocery shopping. You don’t have to remember to buy gifts for everyone, think up costumes for the family, or make sure everyone has something new for Easter and dye eggs. In our family, the menu is fairly standard. We might try a new dish on occasion, but family members request the same old standards every year.
I like to do most of my cooking on the Thanksgiving day. I do make the dough for my crescent rolls ahead of time, and shape and then freeze the rolls. I take them out of the freezer Thanksgiving day and thaw them and then bake them fresh for dinner. I often make cheesecake or French silk pie for dessert. Both items need to be prepared the day before for best results.
I do get up very early on Thanksgiving and do have a very helpful husband. We get the turkey ready, no washing, but I do remove the neck, giblets and the plastic piece holding the legs together. I saute onions and celery as my husband tears bread for the stuffing. We always have a large turkey so it does take a while to cook. I do stuff the bird, but loosely to keep it all safe for my family. I usually get my tables set the night before, so all I need to do after the turkey is in the oven is peel potatoes, prepare sweet potatoes and make a vegetable or two. Often I do ask guests to bring a salad or vegetable or relish. Sometimes, depending on the number of guests, we may have them bring drinks or appetizers. Usually, everyone pitches in and we enjoy the day immensely.
Our family tradition of cooking the turkey a day before Thanksgiving started one year when we were traveling and we were in charge of making the turkey. My dad cooked the turkey, cut the meat off and put it in a cake pan with the juices to keep it moist. It was cooled down, covered with foil and ready to reheat on Thanksgiving morning. The meat is put in the oven at 350 degrees to heat for an hour or two (depending on the size of your turkey) until the meat temperature reaches 165 degrees F. The best part is the meat is moist and tender especially when reheating in the juices and the messy part of cooking and cutting the meat off the bones is done! After the turkey is heated the juices are drained for making fresh gravy. Our family prepares the turkey this way every year now and we are passing this tradition down to our kids as they start to fix Thanksgiving meals themselves.
No matter which method you and your family prefer, we have experts at AnswerLine that can help you with your questions. Happy Thanksgiving.