We have been preparing all week and finally Thanksgiving is here tomorrow. Your turkey should be resting comfortably in your refrigerator, your ingredients should be processed and put away and I’m about to lay out a simple Thanksgiving day cooking plan that will leave time for morning movies, dog walking, and socializing.
Here is what you need to do:
First of all, appreciate that even if your turkey is 30 pounds, it is still going to cook in under 5 hours because cooking bags just speed the process up. Plan accordingly. Here is a helpful chart:
|8 to 12 pounds||12 to 14 pounds||14 to 18 pounds||18 to 20 pounds||20 to 24 pounds||24 to 30 pounds|
|1½ to 2 ¼ hours||2¼ to 2¾ hours||2¾ to 3½ hours||3½ to 4 hours||4 to 4½ hours||4½ to 5 hours|
Team VP wants to eat turkey at around 4:00 p.m. and our turkey is going to take approximately 2 hours to cook. Here is my rough schedule. Keep in mind I will have help from Mr. MVP which will speed the process up.
- 12:00 p.m. – Turn the oven on to 275 degrees.
- 12:00 p.m. – Cut the bread into cubes and lay it on sheet pans. Bake it in the oven for about 50 minutes or until it is completely dry.
- 12:10 p.m. – While the bread is drying make the stuffing:
Chop 1 tablespoon fresh sage, 2 stalks of celery, and five mushrooms. Add 4 tablespoons garlic infused oil to dutch oven. Add the sausage to the dutch oven and brown over medium heat. Add sage, celery and mushrooms to sausage and cook for about ten minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and add two cups of broth. Whisk remaining two cups of stock, three eggs, and salt and pepper as preferred until mixed in a separate bowl. Stirring constantly pour egg mixture into sausage mixture.
- 12:50 p.m. – Take the bread out of the oven.
Fold cubed bread in gently. Prepare the baking dish by lightly covering the sides and bottom with extra virgin olive oil. Place the stuffing in the baking dish and cover it with foil.
- 1:00 p.m. – Take the turkey out of the refrigerator to let him hang out in the kitchen.
- 1:00 p.m. – Turn the oven up to 350 degrees.
- 1:45 p.m. – Check the turkey for any extras, like a package of giblets, and prepare the roasting bag.
Add one tablespoon of gluten free flour – or plain flour – to your bag and add your turkey, breast side up. DO NOT RINSE YOUR TURKEY. Brush your turkey with a small amount of garlic infused oil and then add chopped fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Also, salt and pepper. Close the bag with the turkey inside.
- 2:00 p.m. – Cut six 1/2 inch slits in the top of the bag and put the whole operation in the oven.
- 2:00 p.m. – Prepare the Brussels sprouts, but don’t put them in the oven yet.
- 2:20 p.m. – Peel and chop your potatoes. Here is how I learned to make mashed potatoes:
- 3:30 p.m. – It’s time to check the temperature of your turkey.
- 3:30 p.m. – Most likely your turkey wasn’t completely finished, but the temperature gave you a good idea of where you stand.
- It should be about 3:45 p.m. and it’s time to do some oven juggling. Don’t panic. If you have two ovens you are in a seriously tremendous position right now, but if you are like me and only have one, then simply move your oven racks around so that your stuffing will fit on the rack underneath your turkey. Your stuffing should bake for about 45 minutes or until the temperature in the center is 150 degrees.
- 4:00 p.m. – Check the turkey again. If the thermometer reads 165 then it’s time to let that delicious bird rest. Simply cover him with foil and leave him alone.
- 4:05 p.m. – Following the directions above it’s time to cook your potatoes and put your sprouts in the oven. Both vegetables should take about 20 minutes.
- 4:15 p.m. – Check the temperature of the stuffing.
- 4:25 p.m. – By now dinner should be coming together. Your potatoes should be mashed, sprouts roasted and stuffing baked. Your turkey should be fully rested and ready to be eaten. Here is the best way to carve your bird:
Remember tomorrow is a day of gratitude and thanks, so when there is a timing issue or a missing ingredient have confidence in your ability to take on a Thanksgiving meal. Smile your biggest smile and know that I too am cooking my very first turkey. Now, go and take your sausage out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw right now. It will be ready when you need it tomorrow.