Thanksgiving is a point of pride for many home cooks because it is the perfect time to whip up something special for family and guests. Anything short of good food, football, and family won’t pass muster, with particular emphasis on food.
As expected, Thanksgiving kitchen preparations tend to be stressful affairs. It is the time of year when the phrase “if you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen” is most literally taken, but it shouldn’t be the case.
This year, have a peaceful, memorable, and stress-free Thanksgiving by considering the following tips:
Mise en place
Mise en place is a French culinary phrase that literally translates to “everything in its place.” It refers to the habit of having all ingredients measured and prepared, pans and cooking implements out and stacked in their order of use, mixing bowls and equipment ready for use, and serving ware on standby for cooked food.
Preparing everything ahead of time will let you cook in the most efficient way possible without disruptions. Many baked items such as macaroni and cheese, potatoes au gratin, and pies can be made a couple days ahead of Thanksgiving Day. Stuffing is also a great candidate for precooking — this is a food item that almost always improves when given time to sit and soak.
Use the same oven for several dishes
Your oven is your best asset. It’s a great way to cook food through without burning anything as you would on stovetop burners. Just remember that different foods of different portion sizes have different cooking times, and if you prepare everything earlier, you can simply cook your food low and slow.
Turkey takes the longest to cook, typically needing over four hours depending on the size of the bird. Make sure you put that in early in the day. Put it on your lowest rack so you can use the top rack for baking, reheating, and browning items. The turkey will also need to rest around 30 minutes before you carve it (unless you want your bird to fall apart); use that time to reheat your sides and other entrees.
Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose
Have a look around your home and you’ll realize that there are a lot of items you can repurpose to make your Thanksgiving a little easier. Need to parbake your pie crust but have no pie weights? You can use dried beans, gravel, or pennies (just line your dough with aluminum foil first). Need to keep your mashed potato warm? Use a slow cooker on low setting. Making gravy an hour ahead of serving? Keep it in a thermos to keep it at the right temperature. Solutions often sit around the house in plain sight. Use them.
Free up your kitchen
Keep well-meaning family and friends out of the kitchen by delegating tasks — also, leave out glasses, refreshments, bottle openers, corkscrews, and the like long before your meal. Freeing up your kitchen for the final flurry will save you precious time and will help minimize your stress. After all, cooking is just half the battle.
Potluck is more than okay
Harness the power of potluck. Have family and friends pitch in with entrees of their choice. There’s no shame in serving store-bought side dishes or desserts. It’ll save you a lot of headaches and more time and energy to focus on the turkey, which is the star of the show.
Thanksgiving — as with IT — is all about preparation. Stay ahead of threats and issues with a proactive attitude and with Capstone IT. We’re here for all your tech needs through Thanksgiving, the holidays, and the rest of the year. Contact us today to learn more.