Thanksgiving Dinner Plan

Thanksgiving Dinner Plan

I was one of those people who made everything for Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day and really never enjoyed the meal. I was just too tired and stressed out to appreciate the whole event. Believe it or not, some food actually tastes better the next day. I find that especially true with stuffing and gravy. Gravy is also one of those things that is a labour of love. You can’t rush a good gravy and when you are so focused on making sure the turkey is cooked, you neglect the gravy. I end up with runny bland and greasy gravy. Over the years, I changed my approach to this momentous dinner. I do some of the heavy lifting the day before Thanksgiving, then focus on the easier items on Thanksgiving Day. Below is my approach.

Day Before Thanksgiving

Make the Stuffing!

My recipe is traditional on my French parental side of the family. Make whatever stuffing you would normally make. Set it aside until you are ready to make the turkey roulade.

Prep the Turkey!

I first dabbled in deconstructing a turkey when I saw the recipe in one of Julia Child’s cookbooks. I made the version from ATK based on Julia’s recipe below as my first attempt. It was great!

Cook’s Country also has an amazing recipe for just the breast portion cooked on a bed of stuffing. It was amazing but not traditional.

I found the idea of deboning a turkey extremely intimidating. I stumbled upon a video with Julia and Jacques that showed exactly how to do it. I had to watch this video several times and also pause at key moments but I did do it (took me 30 mins and not 30 seconds). What is interesting is that even if you screw it up, it’s all fixable. Get some good sturdy twine for this. You also need extremely sharp knives to do this right. I did cut myself, but I learned my lesson. Watch the video as you make your first attempt. You will be getting very close to the turkey, be prepared to throw all your clothes in the laundry.

My incentive for trying this stuffed turkey roulade was the allure that it only took a couple of hours to cook and hardly any babysitting! You also still get the bones needed for the gravy.

Once the turkey was stuffed, tied, and refrigerated, I put my feet up and had a glass of wine. My bird looked just like Julia and Jacques!

Stuffed, deboned, tied and chilled whole turkey.

Make the Gravy!

I double and triple this recipe, depending on the number of guests I am having. In order to make the gravy, you need to prep the turkey first, as you will need the turkey carcass. The recipe calls for chicken bones, but you are using the turkey carcass instead. You will need a sharp cleaver-type knife to cut those turkey bones into small pieces as well. Do not use low salt or no salt chicken broth either. You will just not get that same flavor and end up with Bland Gravy. Read my post about that:

Thanksgiving Day

Cook Turkey!

Pull your stuffed turkey out of the fridge. Follow the instructions in the Julia and Jacques video.

I also used an instant-read thermometer since it was the first time I had made this and didn’t want to under or overcook the Roast Beast. What was truly surprising about this version was that you get a mixture of white and dark meat holding your stuffing down the centre. Even my fickle white or dark side family eaters didn’t mind this combo. When you slice this turkey, it looks straight out of a magazine. Meat and stuffing are moist and there is less meat waste. I found that so much meat is left behind when you carve a traditional turkey. This recipe actually produced more meat!

Make the Side Dish!

I usually do carrots or Gordon Ramsay’s Brussel Sprouts recipe. You should start getting your side dish ready midway through the cooking time. This turkey isn’t going to take as long so take that into account.

Make the Mashed Potatoes!

Get someone else to peel potatoes, it’s the least they can do. There are tons of recipes for mashed potatoes. Pick your favorite. Let the peeled potatoes sit in a pot covered in water until you are ready to start cooking them. Again, because the turkey is quick to cook, you almost have to get this going not long after you popped the turkey into the oven.

Reheat the Gravy!

I place the cold gravy in a large pot and slowly reheat it while the turkey is cooking. Once the turkey is cooked, there will be delicious brown bits and juices in the bottom of the roasting pan. You need that! Add about 1 cup of chicken broth to the pan. Bring it to a boil and scrape and get those brown bits and juices to dissolve. Once done, add to a degreasing cup or measuring cup. Need to degrease it. Fat = No Taste. You need to get it off the broth. You will then add this tasty broth to your already warming gravy. If this makes your gravy too runny, add 2 tbs cornstarch mixed with 3 tbs of white wine. Bring to a boil and it will be nice and thick. Keep low and uncovered until ready to serve. Taste it! It should be perfect. If not, you can make some adjustments.

Too Bland (I doubt this would happen because of the base you created): Add some undiluted chicken bouillon. Be careful not to add too much. Start with a little and taste again.

Too Thick or too Strong: Add a splash of chicken broth to loosen it up. Salt and Pepper to taste. Taste again!

That’s It!

Enjoy Your Dinner

Make someone else clean up!