Greetings and Salutations, Blog Readers!
Today we have a blog ALL ABOUT my Thanksgiving prep! As you may or may not know, I love this damn holiday.
Not it’s evil roots, I hate that. Obviously. Join me for dinner and you will hear all about it.
I love the eating. I love cooking, I love eating, and I love hyper planning and organizing something to the enjoyment of my friends.
And that is where my love of Thanksgiving comes from. Mostly. Anyways, the point isn’t to unpack why I like the holiday, the point is to puke piping hot organizational crazy all over you to help you prepare for the upcoming Holiday.
Every year, I will go through Pinterest, double checking my time tables to ensure I am ready for the holidays, and every year I roll my eyes at how several admirable, but kind of…lacking…. Holiday Dinner Prep Blogs can be.
So, here is my Holiday Prep Blog…And yes, even though this is the start of the blog, I know this will be a multi parter…so I think in prep for Blogmas, I will just blog it as a multi part blog as part of the Holiday Week- because for me, much of the week goes to Thanksgiving and NaNoWriMo prep.
Thus, this is Part one.
It may only be a few parts, but it will likely be segment in the upcoming daily blogs, if nothing else.
A quick disclaimer before we get started re: Blog Limbo – You will not seen my fully brined turkey until tomorrow’s blog, because this is MY timeline, meaning, in order for you to do it WITH ME, I need to post it the morning I will be doing it. To follow along live, please follow me on instagram (@abbigrasso) where I will be posting videos and stories about my prep throughout the week. If you have twitter, some of those will be posted there as well, because I have my posts save automatically to my phone, so I can share them elsewhere. My name on twitter, and all social media, is the same: @abbigrasso.
Basically, pictures this year will be delayed a day, but next year, when we do this again, I will have pictures to use, so hit that follow button and make sure you are here to watch this blog grow up in the next year.
Continuing on with the blog:
So, it is the Saturday before Thanksgiving and SOME people are being reminded to move frozen turkeys to the fridge, as to allow it time to thaw.
(Note, at the time of the writing of this blog it is Saturday. I will be posting on a Sunday, because my plan involves you having already started thawing, or, having a thawed turkey by Monday, to follow along with my prep for the week.)
For me, starting your thawing process now makes you late.
Because I like to brine my turkey for longer than a day, and I have never had bad results from brining so maybe my advice is good.
I mean, this is my blog after all, if you are here, you are likely here for my perspective and advice so…here is my advice for the turkey.
Brine that sucker.
I do a dry brine, and it works beautifully. I am told and have read that a wet brine works well too, but frankly, I love a dry brine and it is the space I have, a dry brine is perfect.
So, for my dry brine, I gather up the stuff needed, starting with brown sugar, herbs, and salt.
You brine, namely, to make it more juicy and flavorful, and the following is roughly what I do.
I mix brown sugar and salt together, adding in onion and garlic powder, pepper, thyme, rosemary, sage, and any other herbs you personally enjoy on your turkey. I try to do some fresh garlic and onion, as well as some of the herbs, like rosemary, sage, and thyme, but I also use them for the day of baking and many recipes for dinner, and try to stretch the good fresh stuff for the dinner.
Even when I have a fully stocked herb garden, it goes fast, so I try to keep some dried on hand…but my goal is to one day use all herbs from my garden, and if I do, of course you, my dear blog readers, will see it.The dried herbs help me make sure I have them on hand for the brine, however, and I feel that even when I have a well stocked herb garden, I will need some dried stuff for the brine…hopefully I will have dried my own herbs to do so.
So, the Saturday before Thanksgiving I am also generally thawing my turkey…But I am on day two if it. You see: I have a 14.64 lb turkey. You need, on average, one day per 4 lbs of turkey, to thaw.
It will take my bird approximately 3 1/2 days to thaw.
I like to do a three day brine.
I also don’t like to be stressed or rushed on the day of, which is where MY timeline comes in. Read this entire post to see my reasoning, and make sure it works for you, before following it, but I will say most people comment on how well ran my dinners go, and how shocking it is that I am able to entertain and mingle with guests while also cooking…This is in the planning.
I personally want to have my turkey prepped for baking before I go to bed Wednesday night. This means I need to have my brine done by Wednesday evening, and the bird prepped and in the pan ready to go. Some people, as I will discuss on tomorrow’s blog, consider their bird dressed with a dry brine. My dry brine is thicker and wouldn’t be well suited for this style. Read the blog tomorrow to see how I brine.
So, I start brining Monday. In this year’s case, I will not get the fresh herbs until Tuesday, and will maybe add a few, but the dried herbs, and more importantly, salt and brown sugar, I have on hand…because I have been prepping for the the holiday in small ways for a little while.
Anyways: This is MY breakdown for the holidays, and if you want to join me for this plan and schedule, DM me, let’s start a little DM group, and get through it together. Even if you aren’t doing a full turkey, let’s talk about managing and getting through the holidays.
Monday marks the START of the the Holiday Week, but some prep, begins over the weekend, namely the following:
Thawing your turkey– One day= 4 lbs thawed.
Finalizing menu– Yes or no, is it making an appearance on the table. include any salads or appetizers, and of course pies.
Break down menu into itemized menu– doing this helps to create the grocery list and helps with the ease of planning. This seriously helps you plan and makes sure nothing is forgotten. It also helps to manage the cost. Thanksgiving dinners tend to share many of the same ingredients, so you can buy larger, often times cheaper amounts. Others are items you may already have on hand, so you can avoid buying duplicates by…
Cross checking list with personal home inventory- This prevents buying more dried sage than you need, or buying more potatoes when maybe you actually already grabbed a large bag that needs to be used this week.
Finalizing shopping list– I make mine to include the pans I will need, and simply check mark off any pans, herbs, or groceries I already own.
Pan check – Make sure you have pans for all the food you have on your menu
Last minute cleaning projects- (Please note, your big projects you should have done by now on my schedule, but if you didn’t, never fear, clean up now. I am likely going to also start some cleaning blogs to help people like you so comment or DM if this is something you like) You will have to do the following no matter the cleaning you have not forgotten.
Clean the fridge out– You will have major amounts of food storage requirements, and you have no time for old, rotting foods. Toss everything old. Take EVERYTHING out of the fridge, clean the walls, clean the wracks, reline the shelves or drawers, replace only what is not expired. You need room for all the food, you need to be able to easily locate the food you will be prepping, and you will have company snooping in your fridge, don’t make them uncomfortable with the cleanliness of the place that food is stored in.
Optional juice/water cleanse: I do cucumber water and lots of fruit, but I also eat, so not a full cleanse, just a chill one. I try to eat light and healthy if possible. If not, I drink even more fluids to help account for that. Lots of cucumber water for me.
Double checking invite list– I know some people want to have a head count, for the holidays I keep it loose, I simply make sure I have extended an invite to everyone. For some people, this may be a final headcount.
Final Guest Checks– This check I do for guests who have confirmed, I make sure any preferred dishes they enjoy, are being included. For me, this meant that we had a cauliflower and cheese for Lenyn, wine for Amanda, and an assortment of pies based on guest polling that leads to Apple, Pecan, and Pumpkin. This time can and should also be used to verify any food allergies are major issues. For examples some people can’t or won’t do nuts in a stuffing, others need a gluten free alternative. Be aware.
If you care about someone enough to invite them to your home for your meal, you should care enough to make sure they have something they will enjoy, and also have nothing that may accidentally kill them.
I am not saying don’t invite someone with a turkey allergy to dinner, but maybe have a couple vegan options if you have a confirmed guest that eats vegan.
Most of my final preps involve making sure I am ready for the following week. I try to buy certain things before THE BIG DAY.
The big shopping day is TUESDAY, which is when you go and buy everything you will need…and if you do your list and planning properly, you will only make one stop to the store this week, and trust me, that is normally more than enough.
Monday: We brine. As we discussed earlier, brining is done to increase moisture and taste. The salt helps with the moisture, the brown sugar helps with the browning. Herbs help, in my opinion, with opening up and flavoring the meat. Mix the salt, brown sugar and herbs together, to your satisfaction, and rub that shit all over your turkey. I mean it. All over. Get all up in there and add some onion and garlic inside the bird itself.
Put the turkey inside a baking bag, and put that bag in a lined pan. We do this to avoid cleaning anything later, because we are TRYING to not stress ourselves out this holiday season, eh?
Tuesday: We shop. Armed will a well articulated, typed, and organized list, we venture into the stores. We steer clear of the turkey’s, that section is a madhouse and is full of people who foolishly think they can thaw a turkey in time, or are having to buy a thawed out turkey, at a higher price, and still don’t have time for a long brine. We will be armed with a list and a smile, remembering that people may not be in their best selves or forms on this day, but that doesn’t mean WE have to be brought down to their level.
Wednesday: This day, this day I will be blogging about at length when it happens, but please know, this is our major day, and this is the day that will make or break a great Thanksgiving. Wednesday is the day to make the holiday your friend. You work on Wednesday to enjoy Thursday.
Yes. Thanksgiving is the one time where you can prep on a Wednesday to avoid the Thursday curse.
Wednesday is when we prep most of our food. We cut and cube our potatoes, soaking them in water. We cut any and all produce that can be cut and stored, for me, this is most of the stuff. We chop all the onions that will be needed, and garlic too. This way, our hands aren’t smelling all weird all day, and we don’t ruin our makeup crying over onions. We don’t waste valuable time chopping. We chop on Wednesday and store our chopped ingredients in containers. I chop and mince everything I will need that won’t go bad from doing so.
Please note: this is why the fridge MUST be cleaned out before the holiday, it isn’t just storing the food, it is storing the prepped food.
Chop, mince, rinse, sort, everything you must and seal it in containers. This is also a great chance to double check the ole itemized menu, to ensure you still have the supplies needed for Thanksgiving.
Because sometimes, people will get into the sour cream you set aside for dip, or eat all the celery for a snack.
If I am making Wednesday sound small, please note this section of the overview, just for Wednesday, was over one thousand words. I deleted it, and saved it for that blog, knowing that it will be a long one. I do a lot on Wednesday.
Thursday: Bake the bird, make the dinner, collect accolades, beg someone else to do dishes, and be proud that you nailed it. Also…it is never too soon to start planning for the next big meal, likely a month a way, given the number of holidays we have in the following month.
So: This is the overview of what I do for Thanksgiving prep, which I wanted to lay out for you guys as help for your own plans, more so if you use a brine. Many of the plans on Pinterest don’t brine, or only do a one day brine, and I believe in a three day brine.
Over the next few daily blogs, I will be chronicling the prep each day, so please feel free to join me as I do so.