11:08pm | November 22, 2011
One thing to keep in mind about Thanksgiving – and why it is my favorite holiday of the year – it’s a tradition that is fluid and always evolving just a bit, which keeps it interesting for me. A few years ago, due to family logistics, we moved our big Thanksgiving feast to Friday instead of Thanksgiving Day, and I’ll tell you it was so enjoyable we’ve almost never gone back! That gave us a lovely, family focused day on Thursday to hike, mushroom hunt, and cook at our leisure without the pressures of having to pull off the unthinkable meal in just half a day! Remember to give yourselves a break as you are cooking Thanksgiving, it is likely a meal that took the pilgrims a month to prepare!
When you’re cooking on Thursday you have the whole day to enjoy making the meal and spending this time with your family. By the time Friday hits, it’s just about presenting the dishes and hanging out in the kitchen. And our guests always seem much more relaxed having gotten through their epic Thanksgiving cooking challenge at their house, they come to ours for great stories and lots of good wine!
My Thanksgiving cooking tips for you are to keep the sides to a manageable minimum, and don’t be afraid to ask people to bring a dish as well, especially those family favorites like Aunt Marge’s green bean and mushroom soup casserole. My favorite side dishes, that add pizzazz to a well-dressed turkey, are: Panettone Stuffing, Cranberry Citrus Cressing, and for a more Italian twist, Pumpkin Pastina Risotto, served right in a pumpkin. All my Thanksgiving recipes can be found here.
The other great thing about cooking a small number of side dishes is that you can really devote yourself to the turkey. If there’s one piece of advice I could give year after year, it’s that brining matters! Take the time to brine your bird. If you’ve never brined a bird, or could use a few more pointers check out the video I did for Chow.
Just remember, Thanksgiving is a day for family and loved ones. Do yourself a favor – cut back on the side dishes, cut back on the over-the-top gigantic turkey, and spend your day with the people you care about, not your stove top.
And if you’re looking for something different to do with all those left overs, check my leftovers recipes, Thanksgiving Leftovers, great for Football Friday!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
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