Can you really be stress free for the holiday season? While there are many variables that can add tension to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, meal preparation doesn’t have to be one of them.
Taking care of a few items before you head to sleep Wednesday night will save you some time and cleanup on Thanksgiving day. Consider handling the following tasks and remember the cardinal rule; If you whip up pitchers of cocktails and chill overnight, don’t add any ice until you’re ready to serve. You don’t want to dilute the happy juice.
Cook and prepare your cranberries:
Fresh, simple recipes are a favorite for the holiday season. Whether you like your cranberries whole, slightly mashed or completely smashed, prepare them the day before and chill in the refrigerator until dinner time. Note: I prefer my cranberries to be room temperature. Remove from refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes prior to dinnertime and transfer to serving bowl.
Prepare your potatoes:
This is something you can do that saves not only time on the day of the feast, but a bit of mess as well. Wash, peel, cut your potatoes and place them in the pot/pan you are going to be cooking them in. Cover potatoes with cold water, add salt, put the lid on and put them in the refrigerator overnight. They will stay fresh and when you are ready to boil them, simply pull them from the fridge, set on the stove and turn on the burner. See Maria Roadale’s recipe for a “Scratch” Thanksgiving.
If you are preparing your own stuffing “croutons” this can be done one or two days prior and set aside. The day before, clean, chop and cook your herbs, onions and celery in butter. Transfer to a bowl, cool and chill overnight. This portion of your stuffing/dressing re-heats very well and gives the flavors a chance to blend. When you’re ready to create your delicious dish, remove from fridge, add to pan, heat them up and finish your signature side as you usually do.
Cocktails before dinner? Consider whipping up a pitcher or two for your guests. Keep your pitcher chilled but do not add ice. If ice is needed for the finished cocktail, add only before serving. This ensures you’re sipping with friends instead of tending bar.
The dessert table:
What’s on your dessert menu? No matter what you have on the docket for the finish, more than likely it can be and should be prepared the day before. Cookies, cakes or pies take up space in the oven and will do very well sitting overnight, if you trust your fam not to eat them.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!