Turkey Day - One Week Away

Thanksgiving Wreath

One week from now, most of us will be cooking, searching for our holiday sweatpants or eagerly anticipating Thanksgiving Day football. For me, I'll be staying as far away from the kitchen as possible - in my sweatpants, watching the Macy's Day Parade and ready to eat copious amounts of food.

No one wants me in the kitchen unless it's time to do dishes. Every year, I somehow magically disappear when it comes to dishes time! If my family is reading - I swear it's not intentional. Of course it isn't!

I listened to a fascinating NPR interview of chef Alton Brown yesterday and realized that people really get into Thanksgiving. Traditions are important to people, that much I know, but I guess I never realized that some people feel pasionately that there is a right and wrong way to cook a turkey. Who knew that stuffing preparation (inside the bird or out?) could be such a divisive holiday issue?

I pretty much just show up to eat and nap. I do remember the year someone forgot to make the mashed potatoes. That was terrible.

That's why I decided to consult my sister to bring you some tips for Thanksgiving that are actually useful. I'm pretty sure my tips on the best strategy to maintain your comfy couch seat in the face of would-be seat stealers aren't very helpful! I can attest that she knows her way around a kitchen.

Turkey Day is a week away. Here are my sister, Kate's, best tips to make it a day that your family AND you can enjoy. It sounds like she feels there is a right and wrong way to go about Thanksgiving, too.

  • Plan ahead of time and be organized.  This allows you to spend as much time with friends and family and out of the kitchen! 
  • Fresh turkey is the best, but frozen will do.  Just make sure to plan enough time to defrost! 
  • What is that saying, “Butter is better”?  Well, it’s the truth.  Fat equals flavor and there’s no better tasting fat than butter.  I usually have a pound (or two) of softened butter sitting on my counter top ready to go.  I use it on my turkey (flavors turkey and drippings used for gravy), in my mashed potatoes, in corn, on bread, in desserts, and anywhere else I can think of.  Last year, I even used it on my son’s arm when he got it stuck in between the chair rungs. 
  • Nothing makes better gravy than the turkey drippings.  Pour drippings into a large measuring cup.  The fat will rise to the top while the dripping settle to the bottom.  Skim off fat and use to make a roux.  Add strained drippings and chicken stock (if necessary) to make gravy.  Season to taste.  Nothing is better. 
  • Pumpkin pie screams Thanksgiving, but it’s nothing without whipped cream. 
  • Thanksgiving Pantry Must-HavesButter
    Kosher Salt
    Fresh Ground Black Pepper
    Chicken Stock
    Poultry Seasoning

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving tip or a tradition you can't imagine not honoring next week?