09 Nov 2010

Thanksgiving Schedule

8 Comments Cooking/Baking

Yes, I wrote myself a Thanksgiving Schedule about four years ago. I typed it in Word, printed out the two pages, stapled it and brought it into the kitchen. Now I pull it out every year and do exactly what it tells me to do. It starts the day before Thanksgiving, with brining the turkey. If you’ve never brined a turkey, DO IT THIS TIME! It makes the moistest, juiciest dang bird you’ve ever had. I get my brine at Williams Sonoma and I think it’s worth the splurge, but there are many brining recipes on line that are great. It takes a little while because you have to boil and completely cool the brine, so give yourself ample time, and make sure you have a giant bag to brine in! I always get my Diestel turkey at Whole Foods. Delicious, vegetarian fed, no added hormones or anti-biotics and cage free. You can get organic or regular. Unpaid plug, kids.

The reason my Thanksgiving is pretty simple, is because I do a ton of the prep work the day before. I clean and brine the turkey, therefore I already have the neck and giblets to make my gravy starter. I also cut up all my veggies for the stuffing and place them in baggies, I make any desserts or breads I want to make, I boil eggs for deviled eggs (Russ makes them. Sooo good!), and I make my dough for the pumpkin corn fritters.

Thanksgiving Day, I take the turkey out of the fridge an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature, and I wash off all of the brine. You don’t ever want to put cold meat in the oven, you’ll be adding a lot of cooking time and it could dry out. My Mother-in-law taught me how to make a turkey 7 years ago, and it has never failed me. Right before roasting, I put an onion and fresh herbs into the cavity, and I rub the entire turkey with olive oil and a generous helping of salt and pepper. I put the turkey in a 325 degree oven until it’s golden brown. Then I tent the turkey and keep roasting. I never baste, and I open the oven as little as possible. Butterball.com has pretty accurate roasting times and has always been very helpful with any turkey questions, but I always check the temp on my bird and hour before it’s “supposed” to be done.  The temperature inside the deepest part of the thigh, without touching the bone, should be 180 degrees. The temperature in the deepest part of the breast should be 170. The turkey should be fully cooked at least a half hour before dinner, so it can rest before you cut it.

Then I’ve timed (to the minute) when to do everything else, like roasting the garlic for the mashed potatoes, boiling the potatoes, sauteing the veggies for the stuffing, making the green bean casserole, frying the fritters, etc. If you haven’t made a schedule for yourself, I highly recommend it. Just write down everything you’re doing as you do it this year and you’ll have it done by the end of the day! It helps me out every year.



Saute’ neck and giblets (toss out liver) in 1/2 stick of butter for about 8 minutes on each side, or until browned.

Add medium sliced onion and 32 oz. chicken broth.

Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, 45 minutes. Remove and throw away neck and giblets. Strain remaining broth into glass container and refrigerate overnight.


Start about 1/2 hour before dinner is served

Skim fat off top of broth and place in saute’ pan.

Put remaining broth in small pot and heat on low.

Heat fat in saute pan with about 1/2 cup of flour, stir with wooden spoon until brown and toasty smelling (about 4 or 5 minutes)

Slowly ladle warm broth into flour mixture and begin whisking.

Continue to whisk and add broth until all broth is used.

Add pan drippings from turkey and continue  whisking. Simmer and whisk about 10 minutes.

This gravy has always come out perfect. A couple of times I’ve had to add a little Wondra to thicken it a bit, but it’s so freaking good. If you’ve ever had gravy problems, try this one! And please, for the love of Thanksgiving, let me know how it turns out!!