We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this public service announcement. You have exactly one week to gather your celery, onions, cranberries, potatoes, butter, and cream, harness a turkey carcass, and get your friends and loved ones to the table to celebrate Thanksgiving.
At some point on the path to adulthood, Thanksgiving shifted from being a holiday I merely tolerated to a holiday I embrace as fully as my little T-Rex arms will allow. I get it: when you’re a kid, Thanksgiving offers as much excitement as Columbus or Presidents’ Day. Sure, you get some time off from school, but you won’t be rewarded with presents nor are there particularly cool costumes (unless you’re into elaborate headdresses and severe hats). Now I realize it’s not just a day to be harassed by well-meaning relatives until you’re allowed to retreat to the den and play The Game of Life with your cousins; it’s about sharing love and appreciation through food, which is pretty much the best way I know how to show people I care about them.
Whether you’re a first-time host, a general nervous wreck, or a feast-throwing veteran, it never hurts to get your plan in writing: finalize your Thanksgiving Timeline today and shop no later than Sunday or Monday. Don’t worry, the Brussels sprouts and other perishables will stay fresh. Take inventory of your plates, glasses, silverware, and seats. Folding chairs have been traditional seating at many of my childhood Thanksgiving dinners, so if you got ‘em, flaunt ‘em!
If you decide to brine your turkey, remember that you’ll need to set aside an hour per pound for the brine to penetrate, and that the brine needs to be chilled before the turkey gets submerged, so plan accordingly. (And don’t forget to save a bite of turkey for your cat, lest he go looking for it himself:)
For pete’s sake, invest in a real roasting pan, a probe thermometer, and a good, sharp knife for carving. You’ll use these pieces more than once a year, I promise. Though they may not leave the drawer as frequently, turkey lifters really do help wrangle the large birds when you’re moving them from pan to cutting board.
Finally, are you stumped by what to serve? Here’s a selection of time-tested recipes from the Good. Food. Stories. archives (also available with a quick click via the photo of stuffing on the upper right of the home page):
- Arancini with Gruyère and Parmesan
- Deviled Eggs
- Crispy Salami and Chickpea Cocktail Mix
- Savory Parmesan Shortbread Rounds
- Dinner Rolls
- Perfect Stuffing
- Mashed Potatoes
- Bourbon-Duck Fat Potatoes and Green Beans
- Pumpkin Risotto
- Kale, Leek and Bacon Bread Pudding
- Cranberry-Maple Spread