The best part of hosting Thanksgiving dinner? You stay home, stuffed and sated, while your guests battle traffic wearing tight pants. The downside: It’s a big job.
Go With What You Know
Glossy mags and blogs make it look so easy to whip up delicious twists on holiday classics. Don’t fall for it. Stick to not-too-difficult favorites you’re familiar with, Littley says. You can experiment later.
Make Side Dishes Ahead of Time
Chop and freeze veggie mix-ins, like celery and onion, up to a week ahead. Pre-mix and refrigerate casserole and stuffing ingredients. Cookmashed potatoesa day or two in advance. “Anything I can do ahead of time, I do,” says Allori, who also suggests limiting the number of side dishes you serve.
Dry Brine the Bird
Forget wet brining. Dry brining is cleaner, quicker, can be done days ahead, and doesn’t require messing with liquids and special containers. Follow Littley’s four steps:
Rinse your turkey well, and pat it dry with paper towels.
Mix a 3-to-1 ratio of kosher salt and black pepper, plus your favorite herbs.
Rub the mixture outside and under the turkey skin.
Cover the bird, and let it sit in the fridge two or three days. For crackly, crispy skin, uncover it the day before cooking, to give the outside a chance to dry out.
The result will be soft, succulent slices of heaven and outrageously addictive skin.
Flip the Bird
Prevent the travesty of dried-out white meat by roasting your bird breast-side-down for the first hour to 90 minutes. This lets liquid run toward the breast. “You’ll end up with much juicier turkey,” Littley says. Use aroasting pan with a rackto help circulate air evenly.
Save the Bones
Throw bones and scraps into a largestockpotwith onions, celery, carrots, and water. Heat overnight at 200 degrees, and voila—soup! Allori tosses in shredded turkey and freezes batches to enjoy well into the winter.
Disguise a Store-Bought Crust
Brush the crust of a store-bought pie with milk or a beaten egg. Then, add a sprinkle of textured raw sugar before heating it up. “It’ll look like you baked it yourself,” Littley says. And you did—almost.
Simplify Your Spirits
Forget a fully stocked cocktail bar. Keep it simple by serving one chilled signature drink in a prettypitcherand another, such as a spiked apple cider, in aslow cooker. Allori serves her boozy cider with spiced rum, cinnamon Schnapps, and apple brandy.
Do BYOC—Bring Your Own Container
It’s easier to dole out leftovers when you don’t have to worry about containers. Ask guests to bring their own. And after the meal, you can make it PYOC: Pack your own containers. Your work is done!
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