Thanksgiving is meant to be a celebration, but let’s be real: It often comes with a hefty dose of stress. It’s a big meal to plan, and, frankly, there’s only one way to pull it off: with a foolproof plan in place—oh, and a bottle of wine doesn’t hurt either. We’ve put together the ultimate Thanksgiving timeline and guide to preparing your feast. Sanity included.
Write Out a Menu
List each dish, its serving dish and who is responsible for that dish if you have outside help. Then, make a shopping list.
Get Your Pantry Staples
Stop by the grocery store after work when it won’t be too mobbed with everyone else shopping for the holiday. Pick up pantry staples, as well as ingredients for turkey stock (bones, onions, carrots, celery, herbs).
Defrost the Turkey
Frozen turkeys take a long time to defrost, approximately one day for every four pounds, so leave your bird plenty of time to defrost in the refrigerator.
Make Your Turkey Stock
Start a pot of turkey stock in the morning and let it simmer—all day long if you work from home or all evening. Once the stock is ready, pop it into containers and put half of it in the freezer—you’ll want as much open space in your refrigerator as possible.
Buy Your Wine
You already know which wines to get for the big day; just make sure to get an extra bottle to go with all those leftovers.
Brine, Baby, Brine
One of the most important things you can do to ensure a great Thanksgiving meal is to brine your bird, which takes several hours or overnight.
Make the Cranberry Sauce
Once it cools, put it in your desired serving dish, cover and pop into the refrigerator.
Make the Stuffing
Stuffing (or dressing, depending on where you’re from and where it’s being cooked) can 100 percent be prepped the night before, placed in a casserole dish, covered and refrigerated. If you also plan to stuff the bird, prepare extra dressing and put it in a separate container in the fridge.
4 Hours Out: Roast Your Turkey
Take the bird out of its brine and get it all set for the oven early in the morning. About four hours before your feast, put the turkey into the oven. It won’t take all that time to cook, but it will allow the bird to rest.
3 Hours Out: Make the Sides
Roast your Brussels sprouts and make your mashed potatoes, sweet potato gratin and anything else you’re serving with the turkey.
1 Hour Out: Set the Table and Bar
Get all your plates, silverware and glasses in place on the table, and check that all of the right serving utensils are present and accounted for. This is also the perfect time to set up your bar (the only thing more important than the turkey).
30 Minutes Out: Make the Gravy
Once your turkey is cooked and properly rested, use the pan drippings to make your gravy.
Time to Eat!
Carve the turkey and get all sides on the table. Then, right before you sit down to feast and after the oven is off, pop your pies into the oven to warm up.
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