Yikes! The biggest cooking day of the year is just three days away and you’re just getting around to planning a menu and making a grocery list?
Have you panicked yet? Do you wake in the middle of the night, frozen with the fear of too-little oven space, or cranberry relish gone awry?
Stop. Take a deep breath. Everything’s going to be fine. Why? Because we’ve got you covered with a last-minute to-do list and recipes.
First of all, let’s talk turkey. If you’ve waited until now to buy your bird, you’re probably going to be stuck with a frozen one, unless you happen to be very friendly with a turkey farmer.
How big do you buy? If you want some leftovers (and you do, of course), do the easy math and figure a pound per person. Allow a day of thawing for every five pounds of bird — again, very easy math.
Don’t thaw your bird on the counter; it’s not food safe. Do thaw your bird in a cool water bath in your sink if you failed to take it out of the freezer in time — that will reduce your thaw time dramatically, and it’s food safe. Just don’t wake up on Thanksgiving morning and expect a 12-pound frozen turkey to thaw in two hours. Using a water bath, thawing for that size of bird might take four to six hours.
If you DO wake up Thanksgiving morning and realize you forgot to thaw your bird, don’t fret: Mix a martini, and send someone to the store. Most groceries are open, and you can buy turkey drumsticks or breasts (again, a pound per person) and cook them instead.
Second, there are plenty of things to do now, before the big day. Make sure your serving platters and utensils are in place, and that you have enough seating and room for your guests. Stock up on vegetable or chicken broth, and have extra heavy cream and unsalted butter on hand (you never know when they might come in handy; heavy cream can save a failed dessert; broth can be used in everything from cornbread dressing to gravy — and everyone needs butter). Take a look at your menu, and start making a list of perishable and nonperishable items now. Have enough aluminum foil, plastic wrap and paper towels on hand.
Third, finalize your shopping list for perishables and last-minute items, clean out your fridge, and head to the market. But wait a minute — friends just called and added a guest or two, neither of whom eat meat or flour. I know, I know — you’re sobbing out loud at this point, ready to renounce your religion. Relax. We’ve got some last-minute, super easy recipes for even the most stringent of dietary needs.
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