Thanksgiving Countdown Planner
Try this step-by-step guideline for a successful Thanksgiving dinner; planning is 90 percent of the success of the meal!
Three Days Before Thanksgiving
Remove the frozen turkey from the freezer; place in a container in the refrigerator to thaw. Do not thaw outside the refrigerator, since this could lead to food poisoning. A turkey that’s 16 lbs. or larger could take more than three days to thaw, so purchase a fresh turkey if you need a large one.
To speed the thawing process, you can keep the bird in its original packaging and place it in a sink of cold water. If the turkey is up to 12 lbs., soak it for four to six hours. If it’s 12 to 16 lbs., soak for 6 to 8 hours. If it’s 16 to 20 pounds, soak for 8 to 10 hours. And if it’s 20 to 24 pounds, soak for up to 12 hours. It’s vital to keep the water cold, or you could end up with food poisoning.
Two Days Before Thanksgiving
Brine the turkey, if desired. Clean the house.
One Day Before Thanksgiving
Make the pumpkin pie (or other desserts). Allow the pumpkin pie to cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. If you’re serving frozen desserts, thaw them today.
Prepare and bake bread or muffins, if desired. If you like, you can also prepare the stuffing, bake, and store in Ziplock bags in the refrigerator.
Prepare salads, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
Prepare any ingredients in advance that won’t go bad. For example, chop vegetables and store them in Ziplock bags in the refrigerator. Wash salad greens, too.
Now is also a great time to set the table.
First thing in the morning, remove turkey from the refrigerator, rinse in cool water, and pat dry. Season as desired. Preheat oven, then begin roasting the turkey. Allowing the turkey to come to room temperature before roasting results in more even cooking. To determine when you must start cooking, determine how long your turkey will take to cook.
Check out the USDA’s website for a cooking timetable, but use it only as a guideline. Test the turkey with a meat thermometer to determine when the bird is actually done. Place the thermometer in the inmost part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast until the turkey reaches at least 165 degrees F.
If you haven’t prepared the stuffing already, do so now.
Prepare and bake rolls, if desired.
Garnish desserts. (But leave the whip cream for later.)
When the turkey is about an hour from being done, prepare vegetable and side dishes.
When turkey is out of the oven and resting for about 15 minutes, warm muffins, breads, or buns.
Wait until dinner is over to make the whip cream for desserts.
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