Thanksgiving Turkey for Dummies
*For those of you hosting a “virtual” Thanksgiving this year due to Covid, check out “Why Zoom Thanksgiving Actually Rocks.” For those of you in charge of an actual turkey…. here’s what I learned last year!*
It’s three days until Thanksgiving and I just Googled, “Thanksgiving for Dummies.” Yup. Because I’ve made it to the age of 40 (shh!) without ever having to host Thanksgiving dinner. But in just three days, I’m the lady in charge of the turkey. And guess what? I’ve never cooked a turkey in my life. If you’ve been a long-time follower here, you know that I literally created a series called, “Slacker Mom.”
Up until now, I’ve been able to get away with the “I have small children” excuse. But now my siblings have had some of their own and my youngest is two and a half. So TAG, I’m it!
I have vague childhood memories of my mom doing things to the turkey days in advance, and one especially traumatic memory of wondering why she was shoving things into a turkey’s ass. I remember there being a lot of butter and gravy involved.
But, surprise, surprise, there’s no “Thanksgiving for Dummies” to be found! So, I’m going to share with you what I learned/am learning as I go along. Here’s hoping neither of us screw this up!
Buzzfeed has an amazing post that tells you exactly what to buy and shows you what to do, photos and all.
Their suggested shopping list for 6-8 people is:
1. 1 large bag of ice (for drinks)
2. Kosher salt (NOT table salt, NOT sea salt)
3. One 14-oz. can cranberry sauce
4. 2 medium onions
5. 5 sticks unsalted butter
6. 1 pint vanilla ice cream (optional, for pie)
7. 3 pounds brussels sprouts
8. 1 cup all-purpose flour
9. Freshly ground pepper
10. 2 eggs
11. 3 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
12. Two 1-pound loaves of store bought, sliced white bread
13. 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
14. 4 stalks celery
15. ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed tightly
16. 15 sprigs thyme
17. 4 lemons, halved
18. 2½ cups heavy cream
19. 2 large (or 4 small) carrots
20. One 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
21. 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
22. 1 unbaked 9-inch refrigerated pie shell (found in the dairy case)
23. One 14- to 16-lb. turkey
Of course, this list doesn’t take into account several things. Among them, all the wine I’m going to want to get through the political debates that always ensue. My family has some rather strong opinions on both sides of the aisle.
It also doesn’t take into account all of the children involved and their rather refined (picky!) tastes.
So, I’ll add to the list 4 boxes of wine (which I can decant into nice crystal decanters) and a couple boxes of Annie’s Mac and Cheese.
I learned that a frozen turkey can take up to four days to thaw! So, no waiting to buy it until the day before. I consulted Butterball’s website for advice.
The Buzzfeed post gives full-out instructions on how to bake a pumpkin pie from scratch. You know what I say to that? SCRATCH THAT! After all, I created, “Slacker Mom’s Guide to Baking.”
If you are doing the hosting and the barbaric preparing of the bird, I vote you don’t bake. Or at least tell someone else it’s their problem this year.
As for the sides, I found a Mashed Potatoes for Dummies recipe.
In fact, Pilgrims insist that a REAL Thanksgiving meal is made with Stovetop. I’m not kidding. See?
If it’s good enough for pilgrims, it’s good enough for me.
If all else fails, did you know you can buy a fully prepared Thanksgiving meal and have it delivered? I learned about this too late for this year, but don’t think I won’t try it next year!