Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Thanksgiving Plan

Last year, my Thanksgiving dinner was a HUGE success. I'm doing the same thing this year, except making a few swaps. We just had a dinner party and had the carrots I made last year, so I'm doing Ina Garten's AMAZING Roasted Butternut Squash this year instead of carrots. And I'm making pecan bars instead of pecan pie. This year, I have a brining bag, which should take up less room in the fridge (and if it doesn't work, DH will be making a late run to Home Depot for a new bucket, LOL).

Anyway, here's last year's Thanksgiving plan...I HIGHLY recommend brining.

>> Thanksgiving was a HUGE success in my house. Brining the bird was DA BOMB and I highly recommend it. I mean, HIGHLY recommend it. I have never had a juicier, more delicious turkey--it was beyond simple to cook, and twelve people devoured nearly an entire 21-pound bird. Lots of going back for seconds and thirds that day!

Take notes if you want for next year, because here's how I did it (and managed to have a LOT of relaxation time on the big day, too):

Wednesday Night: Brine the Bird (in the fridge by 8pm)
Equipment needed: 5-gallon pail from Lowe's or Home Depot
Alton Brown's recipe for Brining from I'm Just Here for the Food
(which involves essentially cooking some water, brown sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves and kosher salt, then cooling and adding to the bucket).
Plus: 3 gallons ice water and 1 1/2 cups kosher salt

Thursday Timeline:
7:00 a.m.: Remove bird from Brining Liquid
Preheat oven
Dry bird, stuff with an onion, celery sticks. Brush whole bird with melted butter, then tent with foil, stick a meat thermometer in it, then put the bird in the oven.

8:00 a.m.: Cook sausage for stuffing, chop vegetables for stuffing (celery, carrots and onions), then cook when sausage is done. Add dried cranberries, leave to cool and set aside

8:15 a.m.: Peel 8 pounds of potatoes and start boiling them for mashed potatoes

8:45 a.m.: Start simple syrup for kids' Floating Island Punch
Put Frozen raspberries, pink lemonade and sugar in bowl to thaw for Poinsettia Punch for grownups :-)

9:30 a.m.: Mash potatoes and put in crock-pot (NOTE; the link to my recipe is right on the blog under Most Popular Recipes) --done till 11:15 a.m. (take a nap, read the ads for Black Friday shopping...I do all my house cleaning on Wednesday, so I'm chilling for these two hours)

11:30 a.m.: remove foil tent from turkey, baste with more butter and turn oven temp up to 425 degrees
Start green beans (I made a healthy version, which I can post later)
Start Citrus-Glazed Carrots

12:15 p.m.: Assemble stuffing

12:30 p.m.: Remove turkey from oven and let set
Put rolls in oven
Put stuffing in oven
Make gravy

1:00 p.m.: Serve and eat ;-)

My MIL made the pies, and I had baked cookies on Wednesday night, so all the rest was done ahead of time. I usually make the pies a day or two ahead of time, but this time someone else did them, so I was saved that chore. This turkey was SO SO good, though. I just can't even tell you ;-)

How was your Thanksgiving? Was it a huge success? I do dishes as I go, and run the dishwasher about halfway through so that everyone can eat on real plates. Clean-up is still a lot of work, but it's not AS bad as it could be.



  1. Shirley, I might just try your Crock-Pot idea. The mashed potatoes are always the first to cool. (I might do that with the gravy too--in a queso crock.) What temp do you keep the crock at, warm or low?

  2. Hi Mel,

    I keep the potatoes on Warm. I should do that with the gravy, too. I think about doing it every year and then forget, LOL.


Share a recipe or thought, and remember to visit to read about Shirley's latest book!