Entertaining a crowd in limited space…….
………I.E, THANKSGIVING DINNER!
Constructing this monumental gastronomic masterwork called Thanksgiving dinner with an average size
residential stove, less than adequate counterspace, and a fridge already packed with cheeseballs, olives,
and drinks really can be done! But planning and organization are key.
When I was perusing sites for tips to speed up the production of the Thanksgiving feast, I ran across
some great tips from an article published in the local newspaper.
Local chefs say:
- Have a plan Create a list of everything you need to do for the meal. Start with the big things,
like shopping and roasting the bird; and continue through to little details, such as washing
greens, chopping garlic and deciding what platters and serving spoons to use. Check things off as
you get them done.
- Select appropriate recipes Since a whole turkey dominates the oven space for several hours,
look for side dish recipes that can be made the day before and rewarmed just before the meal
or that can be kept at room temperature. You may also want to think about cooking a turkey
breast, which won’t take as long. One trendy option is to butterfly the bird, which cuts cooking
time to about 90 minutes for a 14-pound bird. Ask the butcher to butterfly the turkey for you.
- Clear the decks Move everything from the counter so you have as much space as possible. Box
up the stacks of papers and put it in another room. Do the same for any appliances you keep on
the counter but won’t be using on the big day. Create a few extra feet of work space by putting
a cutting board or large pan or tray over one-half of your sink.
- Use other appliances Don’t have a double oven? (No, I don’t! thus my double-oven envy!) No
problem. You probably have plenty of other appliances at your disposal. Cook your turkey on
the grill or in an outdoor smoker; use the slow cooker to make the sweet potatoes or warm the
- Make dishes in advance Much of the holiday meal can be made the day before, including fresh
cranberry sauce, appetizer dips, stuffing, sweet potatoes, gelatin salad, rolls and pies. Get as
much of the cooking out of the way as possible.
- Clean the refrigerator (I love this one! Has someone seen my fridge??) It’s a good time to clean
out all of the things that have been hanging around since summer and you’re not using. Besides,
guests open the fridge a dozen times throughout the day so you don’t want to scare them with
moldy mystery containers.
- Ask for help You don’t have to do the meal by yourself. Ask guests to contribute a dish or
two. But be sure to assign them something specific or you’ll have five cheese plates and no
vegetables. Asking them to bring something traditional from their family recipes is a fun idea.
Happy Holiday Season!