Most Thanksgiving sides can be made ahead of time and then reheated before serving. Mashed potatoes are the perfect example of a side dish that holds up perfectly if made a couple of days in advance. Just add them to a casserole dish and reheat in the oven when ready to serve, and sprinkle some extra cheese on top for good measure while you’re at it!
Thanksgiving day is not the day to discover that your new sweet potato recipe didn’t come out as planned. Save all the surprises for another time in order to keep your day stress-free and have no fails in the kitchen. We suggest writing out a menu ahead of time with all the recipes you are planning to make, and have the ingredient list for each recipe written down too. If there is a recipe you are not familiar with, try a test batch ahead of time to really master the dish before the big day.
By cooking your stuffing separately and not inside your turkey, you can keep your bird from becoming too dry. The stuffing will absorb all the excess liquids from your turkey, thus taking all the excess moisture in the pan. Cooking your stuffing in a separate casserole dish will give you a stuffing that is toasted and not soggy, while keeping your bird moist.
You may be tempted to try the latest trends of turkey cooking fads, but a simple seasoning blend is best. Stick to a time-tested rub of seasonings, or a simple rub of salt, lemon zest, and thyme. The turkey really isn’t the biggest star of the show, sometimes it’s the sides or the dessert, so keep the turkey simple and allow for proper resting time once completely cooked. Stop by our meat department for all the basic necessities for cooking your bird including cooking pans, brines, and seasoning blends to make things extra easy!
Your guest may show up hungry, but be sure to save everyone’s appetite by providing small snacks and appetizers. Keep it simple and serve up a cheese platter with some nuts and olives (pssst- JWG has everything you need in our specialty cheese department!). Or serve apps that are easy to make ahead of time and aim for no-cook, ready to serve hors d’oeuvres.
Since things can get a little hectic in and around the kitchen, aim for help that can be directed away from the kitchen. This could be as easy as having someone refill guest’s waters, clear away dirty appetizer plates, or set the table for the meal.
Don’t stress over having all the basic Thanksgiving dinner essentials and classic dishes. Instead try a colorful approach and build your menu based on the color palette of the season. Aim for a balance of orange, green, golden browns, pops of red, and so on. This will ensure a good mix of food groups, plenty of variety, and a gorgeous spread that will satisfy everyone’s tastes.
Pick out 2-3 really good wines for your Thanksgiving meal, and serve those same 2-3 bottles for the whole evening. Our JWG wine expert, Mary, suggests a lighter wine such as Chardonnay, Riesling, or Pinot Noir. Some hand-selected favorites include Wilde Farm Chardonnay, Tegernseerhof Riesling, and Belle Glos Pinot Noir.
Stick to recipes you know, keep the turkey simple, and make some dishes ahead of time and you are in the clear for a fun and relaxing holiday! Spend more time with family and friends, not fussing in the kitchen. Cheers to a stress-free turkey day!