It’s that time of year again. All of the ghost and goblins have retired, but don’t put your Christmas trees up yet!! It’s turkey time.
As a chef, I have to admit I get pretty excited at this time of year. I get to be in my element, dancing around the kitchen, entertaining family and friends, and feeding the masses.
For most however, Thanksgiving tends to be a more stressful time. Countless hours in the kitchen, wondering if the turkey will be dry, and tackling that every tricky pie crust.
I have 5 tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving, a less stressful one…
- Have a game plan. Organization in your kitchen at home, is just as important as organization in a professional kitchen. Most people laugh at me for all of the lists I make. A list of what I plan to prepare, who’s coming to dinner, what everyone is bringing, even a grocery list. It sounds silly, but you would be surprised how helpful just writing things down can be. Ever get home, and realize you forgot milk? Wouldn’t happen if you put it on the list!!
- Delegate. If you are a control freak like me, this one might be tricky. However, don’t feel like you have to make EVERYTHING. If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, make the turkey, and say yes when people ask if they can bring something. Make sure you keep track of who is bringing what. You don’t want to end up with 5 pumpkin pies.
- Get a head start. There is no need to wake up at 3 am on Thanksgiving to start cooking. In culinary school, one of the first things we earned about was ‘mise en place’. This means everything in its place. Anything you can do ahead of time, will make your life so much easier. In restaurants, we call this prep. Chop all of the onions you need, thaw and brine the turkey the day before, go ahead and bake the cornbread today for the stuffing you will make tomorrow. It will save you time, and lots of steps the day of.
- Keep it simple. Don’t be over-ambitious about your menu. Yes, Thanksgiving should be a feast, but you don’t want to kill yourself in the kitchen with 50 items to prepare. Thanksgiving is about tradition, it’s about family and togetherness. No need to have mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, and yams with the marshmallows on top. Make sure to have the classic items, and maybe a few new recipes. But don’t forget sometimes less, is more!!
- Relax and make it fun. Don’t feel overwhelmed. I like to invite my sisters over, have a glass of wine, and put them to work the night before!! We listen to music, laugh all night, and I do my best to make cooking fun for everyone.
The bottom line is that Thanksgiving is a holiday. Holidays are fun!! Don’t get the Turkey day blues. Cooking is fun, entertaining is fun! Don’t approach Thanksgiving as a chore. Leave those feelings for the dishes!!