Monday, October 27, 2008

A Better Mousetrap

As you might have guessed by now if you have been taking notes, I like to cook. I always make a huge Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for my friends, and I have had several people ask me "How do you do it so fast?!" I have developed a routine to make a large holiday meal for up to 8 people (more if guests bring additional sides) in just a couple of hours. The trick is to know what you can make the day before, plus a little secret to get really good, juicy turkey in just a few hours. I end up redrawing this schedule every year, and have been wanting to keep a record of it somewhere. so this post is as much for me as it is for you. So I won't be posting recipes right now, just timing. If there is a particular recipe you want, though, please email me!

Day before:
Make pie
Make cucumber salad
Make rolls
Brine and prep turkey
Make giblet gravy
Make cranberry sauce
Prep veggies for stuffing

Day of:
2:00 - Preheat oven to 425
2:15 -Prep green bean casserole (yes, I am an unrepentant canned soup user. Don't hate.)
2:30 - Put turkey in oven, left side up
3:00 - Flip turkey to right side
3:30 - Flip turkey to left side, peel potatoes
4:00 - Flip turkey to right side, boil potatoes
4:30 - Flip turkey breast up, mash potatoes, make stuffing
5:00 - Remove turkey, turn oven down to 350, put green bean casserole and rolls in oven, make pan gravy
5:15 - Remove rolls
5:30 - Remove casserole, carve turkey, EAT

See? Not so hard. Everything I do on the day before takes 1 to 2 hours, tops. That's actually the most labor intensive part. On the day of your party, you have minimal work to do. Everything is ready to go, and just requires a little maintenance from time to time. It sure beats slaving for 8 hours and being so exhausted by the time it's done that you don't enjoy yourself.

If you are persuasive, or have friends who like to cook, they can take care of a lot of the "day before" things. Assign people to bring a salad or dessert or bread, which cuts your time down even more. Hurray for planning!

PS - My mashed potatoes are usually gone in seconds, and people rave about them. Here's why: I put in a whole block of melted cream cheese and whip the crap out of them. So good! Diets are for the the New year anyway.

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