Thanksgiving dinner is one of those stressful cooking days, sending most people begging for an invite elsewhere. There’s a lot of pressure to roast a juicy turkey, make fluffy mashed potatoes and perfectly tart, homemade cranberry sauce. But I’m one of those masochistic people: I love making this meal. The look on people’s faces when they taste my food (when it turns out well) gives me such pleasure, I’m quite certain I was a grandma in a former life. So if you find yourself without an invite or backed into the cooking corner with the in-laws, here’s the way to make the ordeal a little easier.
I’m not beyond shortcuts. I’ve ordered a pre-cooked turkey before and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you watch it closely while reheating it. It could dry out as fast as you can say, “Pass the gravy.” If roasting it yourself, these are some good tips. And be sure to remove the turkey before it reaches 160 degrees, using a meat thermometer like this one.
For perfect smashed or mashed potatoes, use either Russet baking potatoes or Yukon Gold. Any other might have too much starch content, resulting in a product that resembles gooey paste from kindergarten. I use either a potato masher like this one or, for creamier taters I use one of my favorite kitchen tools, a hand-held immersion blender.
The Green Beans
I usually skip the traditional green bean casserole… it’s a bit too fake food for me to handle. If all of the ingredients come from a can and are loaded with preservatives, it doesn’t go down my gullet. Instead, make fresh steamed green beans tossed in black truffle oil, salt and Parmesan Reggiano cheese (use the real deal if you can afford it). Toss together one pound of freshly steamed whole but snipped green beans, about a teaspoon of truffle oil (found at gourmet shops) and add freshly grated Parmesan and salt to taste. I use this Black and Decker steamer almost every day in my kitchen, less than $25 on Amazon.com.
The Other Stuff
- Buy the rolls (takes too much time), if you even need them
- Make the gravy using the drippings (this is a great recipe)
- Make one other vegetable side dish. How about creamed spinach? Check out my recipe
- Stuffing inside the bird or outside? I always put my cornbread stuffing inside and have never gotten sick (of course, now that I’ve said that, I’ll be suffering from salmonella shortly after the meal this year.) I’ve used Pepperidge Farm Herbed Seasoned Cornbread stuffing my entire adult life. Follow the instructions on the bag. Easy stuff.
- Serve the meal with Pinot Noir, Dry Rosé or Unoaked Chardonnay. Can’t go wrong with any of these.
And be sure to take a walk after the meal… your digestive track will need the help.