Bring something new to the table this year!
How many times have you prepared the same thing over and over again because, well it’s just tradition? Things have come a long way since the days of a dry bird, lumpy mashed potatoes and slab cranberry sauce, so why not adventure a little bit this year and mix it up? The real trick to pulling off a stress-free, delicious holiday feast is organization and prep work, so you don’t feel overwhelmed on the big day.
Believe it or not, many dishes can be made a day or two in advance and just need to be warmed up before serving, which also helps the flavors develop more, especially for dishes like homemade cranberry sauce with orange and sage, cinnamon-pecan roasted butternut squash, homemade parker house rolls, and of course – all kinds of pies! All of these types of dishes can easily be made 2 to 3 days ahead of time, so all you’ll need to do is warm them up before it’s time to dig in.
Now a word on the bird: first, a frozen bird will take at least a day or two before it’s ready to go, so plan accordingly. After that, this is actually one of the easiest parts of the whole day. Just make sure to get up a little early so you can prep the bird to get it in the oven, on the grill, or if you can – into the smoker!
There are tons of recipes out there for brining, stuffing, or even “spatchcocking” a turkey (cutting it so it lies flat while roasting), as well as all sorts of rubs you can add for enhanced flavor. And honestly, they are all easier than you think – so go ahead and try something new! One of our favorites is to create a herbed butter using rosemary, sage, and thyme, and spread it under and over as much of the skin as possible, roast at 450 for 30 minutes, and then down to 350 for the rest of the time to get that nice golden brown skin.
While the turkey is cooking along in the oven the stuffing can be going at the same time, if you’re a traditionalist the turkey’s already stuffed and good to go. However, if you’re willing to try something new, go ahead and make the stuffing separately and then bake with the bird in a separate baking dish. You’d be surprised by how well this comes out and just how much easier it can be, so take a look online for something you think looks good and try it – like cornbread oyster stuffing or rosemary, fig and hazelnut stuffing – you really can’t go wrong…especially covered in gravy!
Of course, making everything from scratch and trying out a bunch of new seasonings and ingredients can sometimes be a bit more costly than Stovetop, frozen corn, and canned cranberry sauce. But we encourage you to go for it – you might just find a new favorite tradition!