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Cooking Tips for Your Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner is one of the largest meals of the year, and is often the most complicated meal most people prepare. It can also be one of the most nerve-wracking – with many moving parts, limited oven space, and friends and family to impress (and to entertain while you are cooking) Thanksgiving can be a stressful dinner to prepare. The following tips may help ensure a tasty dinner that goes smoothly and hopefully saves you some time and money in the process.

  • A smaller turkey will likely be tastier than a very large one, and will take less time to cook as well. If you are cooking for a large group, you may want to consider buying multiple small turkeys instead of one very large one. As a bonus, you’ll get twice the drumsticks and wings, for those dark meat lovers!
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  • Brining your turkey ahead of time will make for a tastier bird that won’t dry out in the oven. If you need a brine recipe, check out former Speaker of the House John Boehner’s recipe here.
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  • Deep-fried turkey is a popular twist on the traditional Thanksgiving bird. However, it can be a difficult (and dangerous) process. Alton Brown has a guide on turkey frying safely and effectively.
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  • Remember, you must begin thawing your turkey based on its weight. See the chart below from Favorite Family Recipes to determine what day you need to start thawing out the turkey for it to be ready for Thanksgiving day:
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  • If you are making stuffing from scratch, you can dry the bread out in the oven rather than waiting for it to become stale or buying days-old bread. This means you won’t have to plan as far ahead for your made-from-scratch stuffing. Here’s a top-notch recipe for homemade stuffing, that will tell you how to oven-dry your bread.
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  • Making gravy from pan drippings is an easy way to bump up the quality of your Thanksgiving meal. It can also be healthier (and certainly cheaper) than preservative-laden gravy in a jar. Here’s how to do it.
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  • Homemade poultry stock is easier to make than you might think, and is a surefire way to take your Thanksgiving dishes to the next level. Here’s an easy chicken stock recipe.
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  • Making stock out of the turkey carcass is an easy way to stretch your Thanksgiving dollars further, and cuts down on food waste. You can make a tasty turkey noodle soup with turkey stock and leftover meat!
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  • If you have vegetarians or vegans coming over for Thanksgiving dinner, remember that the marshmallows in a traditional sweet potato casserole are not vegetarian – they contain gelatin from animal bones.
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  • For creamier mashed potatoes, after you peel and dice your potatoes boil them directly in the heavy cream rather than water. This saves a step, as they can be mashed in the cream rather than drained and mashed separately.
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