This is the first time I've hosted Thanksgiving. I've co-hosted plenty of times. Even this year, we potlucked it, which I would absolutely do going forward. So relaxing! So much more fun. I did the the core, but it is the difference between feeling exhausted when you finally sit down to eat and feeling tired but happy. Some general thoughts: warning to readers this could possibly be a tremendously boring entry as it's mostly for myself for next year. ;)
- Potatoes: do that s*** ahead of time. I made so many mashed potatoes for our big pot luck the previous weekend, I had enough for our meal. I had made them with butt-tons of butter and milk, and I put it through a food mill. I think that was the key to keeping it good. I had it out for 24 to defrost and then heated it up in the pan with the sad little amount of schmaltz I was able to produce. Texture was totally, totally perfect.
- Dutch apple pie: it's harder to make than you think. Americans: if you are going to make a Dutch apple pie you need to first take everything you know about making crusts and throw that out the window. Everything is man handled. The butter should be room temperature. You knead that s*** in with the sugar by hand. You then knead in the flour. It is a big, crumbly, don't-look-like-it-will-ever-become-a-crust mess when you end. Then it sits overnight to recover from all that rough play. The next day you take it out and knead that s*** again! It's warm like well used play dough by the time you roll it out. Sadly, I made a mistake of substituting something called lemon peel in a jar to save time and it made it the pie too sweet. Boo.
- Ice cream: don't overfill the ice cream maker! The ice cream had ice crystals in it - boo. We conjecture this is because I made a double batch and tried to stuff it all in there. I suspect the water froze before the fats solidified, causing the crystals.
- Stuffing: easy to do ahead of time.
- Turkey: small = good. Provided you have time, I am starting to see roasted bird is not rocket science. The reason there are a million ways out there to roast a bird is because they all work. OH, seasoned eater of turkeys, mentioned that bigger birds are probably a lot more challenging and then you do need to take more care to ensure the white meat doesn't dry out. But up to 4,5 kilo it still roasts like a smaller bird and in fact I'm pretty sure it was in there maybe 30-50 minutes too long and it STILL turned out juicy and delicious. What works for me: a LOT of butter smeared on before, especially on the white meat, and liberal basting although this will increase the cooking time. I had it in for 4 hours in the end.