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A Foolproof Plan for Your First Thanksgiving

Novice hosts, no need to be intimidated by a turkey! Follow this handy timeline for preparing our First-Time Thanksgiving Menu, and you’ll get dinner on the table without a hitch.

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You Can Do It!

You Can Do It!

Whether your family has passed you the cooking baton or you're preparing a spread for your friends, hosting your first Thanksgiving can seem a daunting task -- but it doesn't have to be! With a little bit of strategizing and a foolproof menu, you can pull off the big feast without a fuss. Our menu of classic yet simple recipes and our handy timeline will help you pull off the festivities with ease (and have fun doing it!).

First-Time Thanksgiving Menu

  • Turkey with Brown-Sugar Glaze
    Turkey with Brown-Sugar Glaze

    Behold the meal's centerpiece! Cloaked in a tangy-sweet glaze, this bird is ready in just under three hours, including resting time, so there's no need to wake up at dawn and baste all day.

  • Pan Gravy
    Pan Gravy

    The secret to superb gravy is right in your roasting pan. After taking your bird out of the oven, simmer the drippings with a bit of flour and fat to create a deeply flavorful sauce.

  • Presbyterian Cocktails and Cheese Crackers
    Presbyterian Cocktails and Cheese Crackers

    The key to hosting a good party might be delicious food, but the key to a great party is to keep the drinks flowing! Buttery cheddar-laced crackers are the perfect cocktail companion.

  • Turkey with Brown-Sugar Glaze
    Turkey with Brown-Sugar Glaze

    Behold the meal's centerpiece! Cloaked in a tangy-sweet glaze, this bird is ready in just under three hours, including resting time, so there's no need to wake up at dawn and baste all day.

  • Pan Gravy
    Pan Gravy

    The secret to superb gravy is right in your roasting pan. After taking your bird out of the oven, simmer the drippings with a bit of flour and fat to create a deeply flavorful sauce.

  • Glazed Carrots with Thyme
    Glazed Carrots with Thyme

    Call the kids to help with this dish. Little ones can remove the thyme leaves from their stems. Older children can peel carrots and measure out the ingredients for the glaze.

  • Brandied Pecan Pie
    Brandied Pecan Pie

    Instead of preparing a full spread of sweets, we suggest serving one spectacular dessert. This brandied pecan pie is simple to prepare but layered with irresistible flavors.

Thanksgiving Timeline

  • Two Weeks Ahead
    Two Weeks Ahead
    Reserve your bird. Whether you're picking up your turkey from your farmer or grocery store, or even ordering online, contact your purveyor and confirm that one will be available when the day arrives.
  • THREE DAYS BEFORE
    THREE DAYS BEFORE

    Thaw your turkey. If using a frozen turkey, defrost on a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom shelf of your fridge. Allow a full day for every four pounds of turkey being thawed.

    Make the Herb-Marinated Olives and Garden Veggie Dip.

  • THE WEEKEND BEFORE
    THE WEEKEND BEFORE

    Clean the kitchen; it will help keep you organized and create room in your fridge. Toss any expired foods, wipe surfaces, and gather platters and cookware. Also wash and properly store produce and make the cranberry sauce.

  • TWO DAYS BEFORE
    TWO DAYS BEFORE

    Make pie dough and refrigerate.

    Toast bread for stuffing and pecans for pie; store separately in airtight containers at room temperature.

  • Two Weeks Ahead
    Two Weeks Ahead
    Reserve your bird. Whether you're picking up your turkey from your farmer or grocery store, or even ordering online, contact your purveyor and confirm that one will be available when the day arrives.
  • THE WEEKEND BEFORE
    THE WEEKEND BEFORE

    Clean the kitchen; it will help keep you organized and create room in your fridge. Toss any expired foods, wipe surfaces, and gather platters and cookware. Also wash and properly store produce and make the cranberry sauce.

  • THREE DAYS BEFORE
    THREE DAYS BEFORE

    Thaw your turkey. If using a frozen turkey, defrost on a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom shelf of your fridge. Allow a full day for every four pounds of turkey being thawed.

    Make the Herb-Marinated Olives and Garden Veggie Dip.

  • TWO DAYS BEFORE
    TWO DAYS BEFORE

    Make pie dough and refrigerate.

    Toast bread for stuffing and pecans for pie; store separately in airtight containers at room temperature.

One Day Before

One Day Before

Trim and peel carrots; refrigerate in a zip-top bag.

Trim Brussels sprouts and shred; refrigerate in an airtight container. Cook pancetta; refrigerate it and drippings separately in airtight containers.

Trim green beans; refrigerate in a zip-top bag. Caramelize onions. Let cool completely; refrigerate in an airtight container.

Make cheese crackers, cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Make pie and let cool completely. Wrap well in plastic and keep at room temperature.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day

The morning of: Prepare potatoes, cover, and refrigerate.

3 1/2 hours before: Bring turkey to room temperature; start roasting. Make glaze.

2 hours before: Once oven is at 350 degrees, bake potatoes. Bring caramelized onions and cranberry sauce to room temperature. Cook green beans. Assemble stuffing.

1 hour before: Set out cheese crackers and other snacks.

30 minutes before: While turkey and potatoes rest, put stuffing in oven. Cook carrots. Make gravy. Finish Brussels sprouts and assemble green beans.

Call everyone to the table: Dinner's ready!

After Dinner

After Dinner

Pack it. Have airtight containers on hand and encourage guests to bring their own so the leftovers can be easily divvied up.

 

 

Comments (2)

  • 12 Nov, 2013

    I would like the recipie for Martha's Congac and milk marinade. Thanks

  • 12 Nov, 2013

    Nice,very nice,I like your page

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