Sara’s Simple Tips:
“First, decide what kind and what size of turkey you’re going to buy,” says Moulton. She recommends buying 1 pound of bird per person, to allow for leftovers. “If you’re buying a frozen bird, note when to start defrosting it in the fridge—you’ll need 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds,” she says. Then start focusing on the side dishes:
“Prepare the gravy a day ahead, then ‘marry’ it to the drippings in roasting pan while the turkey is resting. Other essential dishes to prepare ahead are stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Cook and rice the potatoes, then refrigerate. On Thanksgiving, “nuke” them and add softened butter and warm milk. Another trick to make preparation go more smoothly is to create a timetable listing everything you are going to prepare and when and post it on the fridge,” says Moulton.
On Thanksgiving Day, platter your cooked turkey and cover it loosely with foil, pour drippings into a fat separator and discard fat. Place bird roasting pan on two burners of the stovetop and use medium heat. Add wine and reserved drippings, scraping up the brown bits on bottom of pan. Whisk in premade gravy (see recipe at right) and any juices from resting turkey; salt and pepper to taste, cooking until hot. Serve with bird.
“My last tip to avoid stress: Carve the bird in the kitchen, not at the table and make sure you have a very sharp knife or knives (I like to use both a boning and a 10-inch chef’s knife).”
After the turkey is cooked (meat thermometer should read 180° when inserted in the thickest part of bird), cool for 20 minutes. Cooling makes meat firmer and easier to slice. Remove and set aside the legs and last joint of each wing. Make a long, deep (to the bone), horizontal “base cut” into the breast just above wing. Slice down vertically through breast until you meet the original base cut. This will release perfect, even slices. Following these preparation and carving tips can help make your Thanksgiving a meal to remember.