Thanksgiving: The Plan

Thanksgiving: The Plan

The moment has finally arrived. After weeks of testing delicious, yummy, and so-so recipes, I will be preparing my huge Thanksgiving this Saturday.

Though I will be working from 10am tomorrow until dessert drops at 9pm, I have been working hard on some delicious Thanksgiving menus for you all that actually require only 30 minutes of prep time So stay tuned! (note: does not include oven/cooking time)

But for those who have been following my Thanksgiving test kitchen (and especially those who have been testing the dishes for the me), here is the final menu for tomorrow.

Appetizers:

  • Collection of seasonal latkes

– Butternut Squash (with toasted pinenut and sage yogurt sauce)
– Spicy Cauliflower (with za’atar yogurt sauce)
– Swedish Potato (with brown butter applesauce)
(still awaiting trial)

Served with

– Za’atar Yogurt Sauce
– Onion Marmalade
– Chipotle Maple Cranberry Sauce

First Course:

  • Hazelnut Leek Smoked Salmon Chowder

Main Dishes:

Sides:

Dessert:

  • Spiced Brandy Semifreddo topped with Pomegranate Molasses and Honied Oranges with Mini Fruitcake Cookies on the side
  • Chocolate-Coffee Gingerbread Cake with Coffee Whipped Cream

When I passed my two page shopping list off to my significant other last night, he began to get a little anxious that we would need to be cooking solidly for the next two days to pull this off. Imagine his surprise when I said that not only was there no prepping I needed him to do today, but that we could even go dancing tonight and not worry about starting the cooking.

Why my seemingly careless nonchalance? No, I am not being an arrogant uber-chef who has no doubt that I can prepare any fantastic meal in an astonishing and seemingly impossible amount of time. I prepare. A lot. A mucho mucho lot.

Apart from trying every single recipe over the past month (some more than once!), here is what I have done in the past day to orchestrate this meal. I would highly recommend following these steps for any large dinner you are throwing, particularly if there are so many moving parts or the cooking will take more than a few hours.

  1. List all items in the menu, including any sauces that require a separate recipe.
  2. Compile a list of ingredients by recipe.
  3. In a separate document/list, sort the shopping list by store or section in the grocery store (produce, dairy, meat, dry baking goods, alcohol, etc.)
  4. Check you list of ingredients by recipe against the store list.
  5. Comb through the recipes and list the steps for each (not “mix flour and sugar”, but “bake at 350 for 40 minutes” or “reduce sauce for 28 minutes” or “chop 6 leeks and cube 2 potatoes.”)
  6. Sort cooking steps into prep cooking and timed (pre-meal cooking), and those lists by stovetop, countertop, and oven. If your meal is not huge, you can stop here and skip the following steps.
  7. Block out when each course needs to drop (be served).
  8. Working backwards from serving, outline an afternoon cooking timeline of the main dishes that need to be cooked right before the meal. First sketching what needs to go in the oven when and then fill in all of the steps needed to prep items for their final cooking.
  9. After you have sketched out the time dependent items, fill in other prep cooking, easier dishes, and sauce that need to be prepared.
  10. Print several copies of cooking lists and timeline

This may be hard to believe, but I have actually made my cooking timeline such that one person can prepare all of this dishes in the allotted time, with plenty of spaces for catch up, including a gap in oven time. So, it is my sincerest hope, since I will have a small army of cooking assistants (actually, only 3, but in the kitchen I am working in, that will feel like an army), I am really thinking this will not be such an arduous task. Boosting my confidence is also the fact that I have made all of these dishes before. However, the big dark cloud that I have hanging over me is that I will be making this dishes in a kitchen that is not my own, with cooking implement that we need to go somewhere else entirely to borrow, and there is not a whole foods across the street if we forget anything.

I hope that you have a lovely Saturday before Thanksgiving, and here is how I will be spending my day tomorrow. I look forward to telling you all about how it went next week.

Cooking Timeline

night before

Soak 1/2 cup of following: cherries, currents, dates, golden and brown raisins) with 4 tablespoons each sherry and bourbon for cookies
Soak raisins for yams (1/2 cups raisins in 1/4 cup brandy)

10:00am

Set water boiling for potatoes and cauliflower.
Preheat oven to 350.
Chop cauliflower.
Cut bread for stuffing.

10:15am

Toast bread for stuffing (15-20 minutes, till golden, stir occasionally).
Chop onions for marmalade.
Chop chocolate.

10:30am

Raise oven to 425.
Halve squashes and prep for baking.
Boil brussel sprouts. (5 mins)
Cook yams. (8-10 mins)

10:45am

Roast Squashes for latkes.
*****Go to mom’s house to get additional cookie sheets, pans, serving dishes, plates and bowls********

11:55am

Reduce oven temp to 400.
Prep squash cubes for baking.

12:00pm

Roast squash cubes for bread pudding.
Chop white chocolate.
Make egg mixture in bagna maria.
Make gingerbread cake.

12:20pm

Reduce oven temp to 350.

12:30pm

Bake gingerbread cake.
Make cranberry sauce. (10 mins)
Make onion marmalade (20 mins).
Beat cream for semifreddo and mix in egg mixture; freeze.

1:00pm

Prepare fruitcake cookies.

1:30pm

Reduce oven temperature to 325.
Heat oil for latkes.
Mix cauliflower batter and fry them up.
Chop and saute shallots for butternut squash latkes.

1:45pm

Bake fruitcake cookies.
Mix batter for butternut squash latkes and fry them up.
Chop and saute shallots for rosti latkes.
Chop onion for pumpkin latkes.

2:00pm

Mix batter for pumpkin latkes and fry them up.
Slice leeks, garlic, and celery and cube potatoes for chowder.

2:15pm

Reduce cider for apples and onions. Mix with butter and salt. (half hour)
Pomegranate glaze for steak.
Grate potatoes for rosti latkes.
Slice brussels sprouts to 1/4 inch.
Chunk the yams.

2:30pm

Peel and slice oranges into *thin* rounds.
Finely chop dates for orange mixture.
Mix oranges w/molasses, honey, dates, and spices.

2:45pm

Wedge onions and apples. Mix lemon juice into apples.
Grate cheddar cheese for bread pudding.
Chop 2 large onions and 5 stalks celery for stuffing (same bowl)

3:00pm

Cook rosti latke on stovetop.
Cube apples for stuffing. Mix with lemon juice.
Flake salmon. Refrigerate.

3:15pm

Set oven temperature for 450.

3:30pm

Bake Rosti latke.

4:00pm

Oven to 425
Coat apples and onions w/glaze and prep on cookie sheets.

4:15pm

Cook apples and onions.
Begin sauteing items for stuffing: sausage, onions + celery, apples, sage.
Soak bread for turkey stuffing.
Saute onion, garlic and celery for turkey stuffing.

4:30pm

Combine turkey stuffing, make into log and fridge or freeze.

5:15pm

Set oven to 350
Assemble stuffing.
Make glaze for yams and assemble yams.

5:30pm

Stuffing in oven (45 min – 1 hr)
Yams in oven (55 mins)

6:15pm

Pound turkey breasts. Assemble ballotine, wrap, place in fridge.
Set egg mixture for bread pudding to soak.

6:30pm

Reheat latkes (oven still at 350).

6:40pm

Assemble bread pudding

6:45pm

Mix yogurt and za’atar in medium sized bowl (4:1)
(Oven still at 350)
Butternut squash bread pudding (20 minutes covered, 20 minutes uncovered)
Turkey ballotine in the oven (45 minutes, 1/4 turn every 10 minutes, baste, 10 additional minutes)

7:00pm

Start chowder on stove

7:30pm

Serve chowder

7:40pm

Start cooking steak

8:00pm

Serve main dishes

9:00pm

Whip cream for cake

9:15pm

Serve dessert

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