Thanksgiving Feast: Lessons Learned

Thanksgiving dinner is over! And it was a success! I hewed closely to the draft menu, and learned a few things about making this particular meal, which I am sharing with you, below:

1)      Cornbread dressing freezes well, and a little goes a long way. I froze the stuffing a week in advance, thawed it in the oven warmer drawer while the turkey roasted, and then heated it the hour before dinner alongside the squash gratin. It turned out great. I had also made one from a box out of fear that I’d run out, but it turns out that lots of people eat stuffing, but not a lot of it. Next time I’ll just make one.

2)      Cornbread dressing goes great with eggs the next day. Heat some up in a skillet, add a few eggs, stir-fry and enjoy!

3)      Butternut squash gratin is delicious. This was the clear winning side dish, with two people asking me for the recipe. I was glad I’d tested out the whipped squash recipe in advance because it was too sweet, and this one was just right.

4)      Lots of people have had Brussels sprouts the wrong way. Sautee or roast them after tossing in oil, salt and pepper. When they caramelize, the bitterness leaves them and they are still crunchy, and oh-so-savory.

5)      Convection roast saves time. I cooked  14 pound turkey in 2.5 hours on the convection roast setting

6)      What to do when your turkey is done early. See #5—I was taken by surprise. I looked online and the best solution was the one from a caterer, IMHO, who advised me to wrap it entirely in foil, then entirely in an old bath towel, then place it in a cooler where it would stay warm and moist for hours. I took it out almost 3 hours later to carve, and it was still steaming and very moist.

7)      Breast-side-down works best, at least for a bit. Since I inadvertently roasted a chicken breast-side down and ate one of the juiciest roasts of my life, I decided I’d roast the turkey breast side for at least the last hour (more like 30 minutes, since the bird cooked so quickly). I think this helped with #6, considerably.

What lessons did you learn from preparing your Thanksgiving meal?


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