Thanksgiving 101

Our Top Ten Tips for a Stress-Free Turkey Day

  1. MAKE YOUR LISTS!
    1. Guest List
    2. Menu
    3. Grocery list
    4. Equipment list – What will you need to make and serve each dish?
    5. Review Timing for preparation of each dish – What can you do in advance?
    6. Wine and other beverages: In many areas, liquor stores are closed on holidays, so purchase any alcoholic beverages before Thursday. Check out our Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations.

  1. CLEAN & PREPARE THE REFRIGERATOR and storage containers for leftovers.
  1. BUY THE TURKEY well in advance of Turkey Day.
    1. This should be done at least 3 to 4 days in advance of the dinner if buying frozen to allow ample time for thawing. Check out our Turkey Thawing Guidelines.
    2. If you’re ordering a special turkey or side dishes from a butcher or caterer ,place your order this week to ensure that what you need is available.
    3. How much turkey do you need? Rule of thumb: Allow 1 pound of uncooked turkey per guest.
  1. THAW THE TURKEY!
    1. Frozen turkeys can take several days to thaw, so be sure to allow ample time for thawing.
    2. NEVER thaw at room temperature. It is always best to thaw the turkey in a refrigerator, whenever possible, but a cold-water method can also be used. It takes less time with cold water, but is not as safe as a refrigerator.
    3. Check out our Turkey Thawing Guidelines.
  1. COOK THE TURKEY
    1. Cook at 350°F for approximately 15 to 17 minutes per pound.
    2. If the turkey is also stuffed, add an additional 30 minutes of cooking time.
  1. USE A MEAT THERMOMETER to ensure the turkey is thoroughly cooked. Once the turkey has reached its cooking time, you will need to take at least two temperature readings to test for doneness.
    1. Insert a meat thermometer into the breast – the temperature should be 165°F.
    2. Next, insert the thermometer into the thigh of the leg for a reading of 180°F.
    3. If you stuff your turkey with dressing, you will also need to insert the thermometer into the stuffing for a reading of 165°F.
  1. ALLOW THE TURKEY TO REST for 30 minutes after removing from the oven. This will help it to stay moist and keep the juices from spilling out when carving. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  1. SHARPEN YOUR KNIVES! A proper carving knife is the best utensil for carving a turkey, and the sharper, the better and safer. Check your local kitchen or hardware store for sharpening services.
  1. USE PORTABLE STEAM TABLES to hold side dishes to ensure that everything is hot when the turkey is served.
  1. MAKE YOUR LEFTOVER PLAN: What do you plan to do with the leftover turkey and side dishes? Make our Creamy Turkey Wild Rice Soup, or, instead of throwing out the turkey’s carcass, use it to make turkey stock.

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