Tackling Thanksgiving early: Tips to make you feast a success

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OKLAHOMA CITY- Thanksgiving is just days away and experts say you should start preparing now for the feast.

  • Thawing a turkey in the refrigerator- Allow 24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey. If it is too late for the refrigerator, place packaged turkey breast side down in a sanitized sink of cold tap water. Change the tap water every 30 minutes and allow 30 minutes per pound.
  • Cooking the turkey - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and factor 20 minutes per pound for a defrosted turkey and 15 minutes per pound for a fresh turkey. After removing the neck, giblets and rinsing it with cold water, pat dry and coat the exterior with olive oil or vegetable oil. Season with salt, pepper, dried thyme and even rosemary. The turkey will cook more evenly without stuffing, so you may just season the cavity of the bird. Cover the breast of the turkey with foil to prevent over-browning.
  • Don't check the turkey - Every time the oven door is opened, heat escapes and increases the likelihood of a dry turkey. Once the timer is up,k use a thermometer to check the internal temp of the turkey's thigh and make sure it is 165 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest 25 minutes before carving.
  • Using an electric roaster - Prepare turkey as directed for oven roasted but preheat roaster to highest setting. Place the turkey on the rack in the insert and then place the insert into the roaster. Cover, cook for 30 minutes and reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Allow 12 to 15 minutes per pound. Don't continuously check the turkey and don't forget to take it out of the liner and roaster when the timer is up.

When it comes to creating homemade dressing or stuffing, there are a few tips that could save you some time.

  • Plan ahead. Cube/tear breadcrumbs in advance and store in a paper bag.
  • Chop onion, celery and fruit and cover in a fridge. Even sausage may be cooked a day ahead to save time.
  • Roasting the dressing/stuffing outside of the turkey allows for a more even cooking temperature.
  • If you are making packaged stuffing, use low or no sodium chicken or turkey broth instead of water. Use butter, not margarine. Also, bring water and butter to boil before adding contents of the package. Mix in all other ingredients first before adding the packet into the mixture.

To make easy whipped cream, place a mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 30 minutes before preparing.

Place 2 tbsp of sugar in the bowl, add 1 cup of heavy cream and whisk until cream forms stiff peaks. Add 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract and fold in. Cover and refrigerate up to 10 hours before serving. Re-whisk for 15 to 20 seconds before serving.

If you are planning the whole feast, no problem! You can start now.

  • Prepare rolls or dough for pie crusts in advance and freeze for a couple of days. Also, homemade pies can be made the day before and allowed to sit out, covered. Be sure to completely cool before covering so the crust doesn't become soggy.
  • Onions, celery, carrots and other items can be chopped in advance and stored in zipper bags or airtight containers. Apples can even be cut early and put in a jar of 7Up or lemon juice and water.
  • Casserole dishes may be cooked a day or two in advance.
  • Cranberry sauce may be made days in advance.
  • Set your holiday table early.
  • Plan serving pieces/ utensils in advance and be sure they are clean and ready.
  • Make a list containing your menu, daily tasks and leave space at the bottom for last-minute things that were forgotten.

Thanksgiving is a time of being thankful for our many blessings and being together. Don't stress, your guests will appreciate your hard work and enjoy the meal.

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