The Halloween is over, which means now is the perfect time to start planning for the next big holiday event: Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is a classic American holiday and one of our favorites here at Lajollacooks4u. This celebratory feast was made for foodies – so if you’re one of us, then it’s time to start prepping for the excitement to come. Check out these awesome kitchen tips to help make everything run a little bit smoother.
With a Little Help From Your Friends…and Family
If you’re in charge of hosting this year’s Thanksgiving feast, lighten your load by delegating who brings what. Nobody should have to deal with all the stress that comes with preparing Thanksgiving alone. Request a potluck style holiday and invite family and friends to bring their best Thanksgiving dishes, so you’re actually able to join in on the fun this year!
Whether you are hosting the feast or simply attending and bringing a dish, always prepare yourself days in advance. Once you know what it is you are making, write yourself a complete list of everything you will need. Cross check what’s available in your own pantry before you stock up on ample amounts of one ingredient. This is also a good time to note if you may be just a tad short on something – you don’t want to start cooking and realize you don’t have enough of something!!
Make sure to give yourself enough time beforehand to shop for ingredients. The grocery store will be packed with last minute shoppers and you don’t want to be one of them! Don’t forget to utilize your local farmer’s market too, to find the freshest fall ingredients to include in your recipes.
Turkey Brining: Wet versus Dry
Sometimes it can be difficult to decide how you are going to prep the big bird. The turkey is the centerpiece of the holiday tradition and without a a juicy flavorful bird, the whole meal can really fall short. Brining your turkey is the perfect way to make sure that a dry turkey is not on your menu this Thanksgiving.
To dry brine, drizzle the turkey with olive oil and rub herbs and salt on the outside and inside cavity of the bird and underneath the skin. Carefully wrap turkey in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. This method pulls the moisture from the bird, which will later be reabsorbed.
- By not submerging your turkey in water, the skin remains thin and super crispy after cooking.
- Overall improved meat texture.
- Less labor intensive.
- Takes twice as long as wet brining, so you will have to prep the bird a few days in advance (so make room in your fridge).
- The bigger the bird, the harder it is to dry brine. Any bird over 24 pounds will likely not benefit from this method. The salt does not manage to permeate all the way to bone – as is the case with wet brining.
To wet brine, allow your turkey to soak, fully submerged, in salted water overnight, or anywhere between 8 and 18 hours. Add additional seasonings to the water to amp up your wet brine. Some great additions include bay leaves, sage, star anise, chile peppers, rosemary and thyme sprigs, garlic, molasses or maple syrup, honey, or citrus zest.
- Use this method to get the juiciest bird! Salted water helps the bird retain much of the moisture.
- Use the salted water as a way to add some additional flavor profiles to your turkey! Toss in some herbs, citrus, or even brews like cider, to add pizazz to an otherwise typical poultry flavor.
- Takes less time to prepare – only one day as opposed to two.
- Wet brines make it harder to get a nice crispy turkey – but this can be countered by patting the brined turkey dry and then leaving it in your fridge for a couple hours, uncovered.
Wet brining is the most popular form of brining out there. While your turkey may not be as crispy as it would be with a dry brine, it guarantees the most flavorful and juicy bird. Wet brining is ideal for the larger crowds because this method works great on prepping huge turkeys, while dry brining is more ideal for those smaller gatherings. Whichever you choose, just make sure to set aside enough time and thought in order to make your meal perfect!
Make it Look Like Autumn
Something about the look and feel of autumn really sets the mood for a warm and comfortable holiday season. Make your Turkey Day as appealing as it is tasty by decorating accordingly. Rustic oranges and warm browns are just what the season calls for…
Real autumn harvest makes for the most beautiful table centerpieces. Don’t throw out last month’s pumpkins just yet. Splash some clorox mixed with water on your Halloween pumpkins and toss them in your fridge and save them for your upcoming parties. When it’s time, place your gorgeous squash in the middle of the the tables for a true Thanksgiving feel.
Don’t hold back on making your holiday celebration absolutely perfect.