How to make a complete turkey dinner
Thanksgiving dinner all over the United States generally means that families will be gathering and sharing a big meal. In some families there are long standing traditions about what is served for Thanksgiving dinner. This year, some will be starting their own long lasting Thanksgiving dinner traditions.
Today, you can start planning your Thanksgiving dinner menu and compiling recipes so that you will be ready. Make a list today to ensure that your Thanksgiving dinner menu is ready to prepare and that you have all of the supplies on hand that will be needed for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.
Selecting your turkey
Creative homemaking suggests that you allow 3/4 of a pound of turkey (for turkeys over 12 pounds) per person. For turkey’s under 12 pounds, you should allow 1 pound of turkey per person. This means that you need to purchase the right size turkey for the number of people you anticipate serving.
Thawing and preparing your turkey
Depending on the size of your turkey, thawing could take as many as six (6) days in the refrigerator. The USDA suggests thawing your turkey in the refigerator versus cold water soaking. Turkeys that are between 20 and 24 pounds may need five (5) or six (6) days to thaw in the refrigerator versus 10 — 12 hours in cold water.
Cooking your turkey means that the minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F. Turkey should be cooked for approximately five hours for a 20 — 25 pound turkey. Cooking your turkey from a frozen state (which may be done) will increase cooking time by approximately 50%.
Stuffing and other side dishes
While your turkey is roasting you may prepare your stuffing and other side dishes. If you have stuffed your turkey you may still need to prepare vegetables including mashed potatoes, squash or turnip (or both) and other side dishes.
If any of your side dishes are ready before your turkey has finished make sure they are tightly covered and removed from the heat. You may re-heat them in the microwave or the oven when the turkey has finished cooking.
Preparing gravy and carving turkey
It is normally recommended that you allow the turkey to rest for between twenty and thirty minutes after removing from the oven. This allows for easier carving. While the turkey is resting you can prepare turkey gravy from drippings and if timed properly it will be ready when the carving is complete.
Storage of leftovers
Thanksgiving dinner almost always involves a full sit-down meal. However, there are almost always leftovers. After everyone has had their fill of your perfect Thanksgiving dinner, you must then consider storage of leftovers.
Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator as soon as possible after the meal. If you are not able to use air-tight containers, you may consider zip-lock bags or plates/bowls with tightly sealed covers. Leftovers should be used as quickly as possible or frozen for later use.