GETTING THE MEAL AND THE HOUSE READY
1. Give the house a good cleaning a few days before. Keep it picked up. Put things away right away to keep it clean. Be sure to clean your counters of clutter so you have plenty of workspace.
2. Make your menu 3-7 days before. Look in the paper for sales and decide what items guests will bring. Contact guests you are asking to bring a dish.
3. Clean your refrigerator. Get rid of almost empty jars, leftovers and items that are out of date so you have plenty of room for all of your grocery items.
4. Write out your grocery list based on what you are making. Look at your recipes to determine how much of each item you will need. Check your pantry to see what you already have and what may be low. Go shopping
- 3-4 days before so you can begin to prepare some of the food.
- To determine what size turkey to buy: 1 lb. per person is the rule of thumb. Bigger birds have a higher proportion of dark meat. So if your crowd is a group of white-meat lovers, you may want to buy an average-sized turkey plus a couple of extra breasts on the side.
5. Make desserts that can be frozen up to 1 month before the day. Desserts that will keep in the refrigerator or can be stored in airtight containers can be made up to 4 days ahead of time.
6. Are your tablecloths and napkins cleaned and pressed? Check to see if they need to be touched up. Do this 3 days before. This is not something you want to do on the big day.
7. Check the dishes, glasses, silverware and serving platters you will use. Are they dust free and clean? If you have a place to put them, take them out, clean them and set them aside.
8. Decide what you can cook 1-3 days prior. Prepare an item then clean up and put away the things you have used. This will keep you from becoming overwhelmed and if something happens so you are unable to do as much as you thought the kitchen will not be a big mess.
9. To thaw the turkey, put it in a pan in the refrigerator 3 days before to thaw. If you do not have room in your refrigerator, use a cooler filled with ice.
10. Set the table the day before.
11. The night before make a list of everything you have to do. Try to make it in the order you plan on doing it. Checking the cooking times will help you do this. Have a list handy of the food that will be served including what your guests will bring from appetizers through dessert. Keep your lists handy the day of the event.
12. For Juicy Turkeys:
- Grease the turkey, then roast it without peeking. The more you open the oven door, the longer it takes to cook.
- Drape the turkey with butter soaked cheesecloth. The butter will baste the bird as it cooks.
- Begin roasting the turkey breast side down. Halfway through turn it over.
- Before roasting, butter the turkey under the skin.
- I always use cooking bags when I cook a turkey. They come out very juicy and do not have to be basted.
- Letting the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes after taking it out of the oven keeps the meat moist.
13. Transferring a hot turkey from the roasting rack onto a cutting board. Use two long-handled wooden spoons. Insert the bowl ends of the spoons into either end of the bird’s cavity so that the handles stick out. Grasp the handles, really choking up on them so your hands are right next to the turkey, and lift the bird.
14. To help prevent lumpy gravy use Wondra flour. It is designed to melt in liquid and will give you smooth gravy.
15. For best results with mashed potatoes, mash them by hand. Using a mixer or food processor can cause them to seem like glue.