It’s time to finalize your Thanksgiving menu. You’ve probably had it churning around in your head since you accepted that you were in charge of the big dinner this year. Turkey has been a given in your mental menu. Fantasies of a Martha Stewart platter, elaborately garnished with sprigs of rosemary and maybe even some editable flowers (if you possess an over-achiever imagination.) have been blowing around up there and frankly, it’s been stressing you out.
It’s time to finalize your Thanksgiving menu. You’ve probably had it churning around in your head since you accepted that you were in charge of the big dinner this year. Turkey is the star in your mental menu. Fantasies of a Martha Stewart platter elaborately garnished with sprigs of rosemary, and maybe even some editable flowers (if you possess an over-achiever imagination.) have been blowing around up there. Frankly, it’s been stressing you out. It’s time to end the stress and commit, in writing, to your menu.
Yeppers, you need to write it down (even if that’s with your keyboard or touchpad). Trust me, this is an immediate stress reducer that cuts through all the fantasy thoughts and clearly identifies what you will be making. As your Thanksgiving GPS, I will walk you through selecting a menu that is sure to delight your bubble while NOT making you looney tunes. (There isn’t going to be any editable flowers garnishing your turkey platter!! So relax and BREATHE!)
Let’s talk about the bird. It’s not enough to just knowing that there’s going to be a turkey. We need to drill down and figure out what form of turkey is best for this dinner. Once that is decided, we can fill out your menu with the other expected Thanksgiving staples and move on to sides and, of course, the pie. So let’s talk turkey. Gobble-Gobble!!
Turkey is the traditional Thanksgiving main course, and that’s going to be our focus. If you have a bubble member who doesn’t like turkey, there are options so that person won’t starve. Rather than serving another main course, I suggest incorporating some protein in a side dish. Consider adding ground sausage to the stuffing and/or serve a baked ziti with ground beef or mac & cheese with diced ham. Any of these options can substitute for the main dish for the non-turkey eater. If you choose to cook a whole turkey, it will hijack most of your oven space. No worries! That’s an easy workaround. Roast turkey needs to rest for 60 minutes before carving. Yeppers, an hour! This is excellent news, as it frees up your oven for your roast veggies, stuffing, and side dishes. NOTE: We will be getting into coordinating cooking time later. Right now, you just need to choose which turkey option will best work for you.
Here are your options with your Stress Rating and Impress Quotient (1-lowest; 10 highest)
Option 1: Roasted Turkey Breast (Stress Rating: 3; Impress Quotient: 9)
Advantages: Turkey Breasts are fantastic, especially for families who only like white meat. Very manageable. Doesn’t hog the oven! While a turkey breast may not showcase like a whole bird on a platter, when it’s served– it doesn’t matter! Prep time and roasting time are considerably less. Best of all, no reaching inside the bird’s internal cavities (sticking your hand up its arse!) Turkey breast can be bought fresh or frozen. See below for the pros and cons of fresh vs. frozen. The same general principles apply to a turkey breast as to the whole bird.
Downside: No dark meat! Few leftovers
Option 2: Roasted Whole Turkey – Fresh Turkey (Stress Rating: 7; Impress Quotient: 10)
Advantages: No defrosting is needed! Traditional turkey dinner with white and dark meat, wishbone, and plenty of leftovers. Fresh turkey can be ordered in advance (butcher or grocery store) and picked up Wednesday. Roast turkey is the showcase for a Thanksgiving dinner, and less can go wrong with a bird that isn’t frozen.
Downside: Effort is required in prepping. Your hands will need to go inside the turkey cavity to remove the bag of heart, liver, and neck.
Option 3: Roasted Whole Turkey – Frozen Turkey (Stress Rating: 10; Impress Quotient: 10)
Advantages: Cheaper than fresh, more available, can be purchased well in advance and stored in the freezer, and thawed in the fridge.
Downside: Defrosting is a super pain!!!! The only truly safe method to defrost is in the refrigerator and depending on size, it can take up to 5 days. No offense to Grandma, but thawing a turkey on the counter at room temp is an invitation for STRESS! First, you create a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty bacteria (read: food poisoning). Nothing will cause you more stress than knowing that you made someone sick!! Second, it’s nearly impossible to gauge how long it will take. There is no thaw at room temperature how-to recommendation because IT ISN’T RECOMMENDED. TIP: Don’t do it! Seriously, unless it’s been given to you (offices love to gift turkeys to employees), and even then, a frozen turkey is not worth the STRESS. Trust me on this!
Now that you know your options make your choice — while you still have options! There are rumors that turkey may be in short supply this year to COVID. Place your order today. Call the grocery store or the butcher shop/meat market and reserve your bird.