What should someone cook for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving à l'americaine
Thanksgiving N ° 2: This is how the party and the bird succeed

  • Little table set you up

    Scarlett Gaus

Thanksgiving for a large number of guests isn't really a big deal - if the planning is right. I have collected inspiration for the feast for you and put together a menu with which you can bring the perfect turkey to the table, guaranteed and stress-free.

In recent years, Thanksgiving has always been celebrated beautifully. Most of the time we were invited, but turned it into a cooking joint venture. Sure, together it's easier to feed a lot of hungry mouths. But even if you stand alone in the kitchen, you can do it. Good preparation is half the battle! And of course realistic menu planning that you don't overdo. I am happy to share my experience, tips and tricks that I have gathered over the years, so that you are guaranteed to succeed and you can still enjoy the party (despite the role of host).

1 The menu

The menu is the be-all and end-all of Thanksgiving. All come with great hunger and one goal: to feast. The expectations of the guests are usually quite predictable: hearty dishes, juicy meat, autumnal ingredients, cozy get-togethers. Conditions that are easy to meet! You just have to think of your favorite autumn dishes: pumpkin soup, mashed potatoes, apple pie. The basic principle is: The menu should not strain your personal and infrastructural resources. Questions that you should clarify:

Are you making a buffet or plate service? I like a combination of both: the bird is cut up and carved (by an expert, ideally), then served on plates. The rest of the dishes and side dishes are available on the table or in a separate buffet so that everyone can help themselves; to your heart's content.

Are you planning to roast a bird? If so: Then your oven will be "blocked" for at least 2-3 hours, i.e. the other dishes that are being used should either be prepared beforehand or while the turkey is resting, i.e. things have to move quickly (approx. ½ hour).

My tip for choosing a menu: Less is usually more. You don't need five side dishes plus stuffing, gravy, and sauces. And you don't have to do everything yourself. One possibility is to harness the guests in the spirit of a «potluck»: everyone brings (coordinated) a dish. And a cranberry sauce usually tastes - honestly - just as good when bought as a homemade one, so shop smart.

Here I have put together an exemplary menu for you - not too many different things, realizable for a cook with a day of preparation - with which you should meet all expectations.

2 the bird

Filling or not? How the bird is cooked is crucial. Whether filling or not - opinions are divided. Personally, I'm not particularly fond of stuffing, and I think it just dries the bird out unnecessarily (even if many say the opposite). Instead, I prefer to stuff the bird with citrus fruits and herbs and regularly brush the outside of its chest.

To baste or not? Whether you regularly douse the turkey with jus or leave it alone, however, is also a science in itself. Some swear by shoving fat and spices under the skin or covering the turkey with bacon on the outside. Either way, you should do some research, come up with a plan - and then stick with it. Freestyle turkeys are not for those new to roasting birds.

Glaze or not? My best bird was one with Glaze (Glaze): Pour the turkey over and over again with a jus made from beer, pomegranate molasses (gives a nice, dark color), maple syrup, poultry stock and orange juice. Only a few (as much as the animal can hold) halved pomegranates, citrus fruits, herbs and onions are used as a filling. If you leave the lemons whole in the belly and only pierce them, they give the turkey nice moisture from the inside.

Notes: a vegetarian Thanksgiving menu works just as well; a turkey doesn't always have to believe in it!

3 The planning

Preparation: Think about what you can prepare (possibly the day before), what you have to prepare à la minute and what you prepare in which order with which tools - and refrigerate (if necessary). The dessert can usually be prepared the evening before or the morning of the festival. Only: if the bird is cooking, you should be able to do without any other dishes using the oven. Meanwhile, use the stove! A mashed potato or a soup can cook very well in parallel.

Time schedule: I like to make an exact schedule for the cooking day. That makes me calmer and helps me to keep a cool head, even if something doesn't go according to plan.

4 The guests

Role play: So that you can ultimately really enjoy the party and your meal with your loved ones, you should at some point just let things take their course. A Thanksgiving dinner is not a competition - the focus is on getting together. Feel free to harness your guests. Do you have a meat preparation expert in-house? Then let him cut the turkey! It's a great honor. Someone is a hobby sommelier? Nothing better than that; leave the refills to her. But announce these possible roles beforehand - then the guests will be prepared for their function and will flourish in their new office in top form.

Have fun with the preparations for the festival!

Read Scarlett Gaus' first contribution to Thanksgiving here: "Table and decoration". And you can find more articles from “Tischlein set dich” here.