Your Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving Get Together

Your Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving Get Together

Here is the ultimate guide to perfecting your Thanksgiving meal. Whether you are brand new at this or need a little change this year, you will find everything you will need to know about preparing for the greatest feast.

For most of us, just by looking out the window we can see that autumn has arrived, which means it’s time to start planning for Thanksgiving. I have found some simple side dishes and desserts for your feast, along with easy-to-follow directions for roasting and stuffing a turkey. Not sure of what type or size to buy? Don’t worry I did a little research for you and everything you need to know is right here. 

For starters, you need to figure out how many people you plan to feed for this feast. Once you have calculated that number, you must figure out how big of a turkey you want to purchase. To figure this out just go by this simple rule, assume one adult will eat around a pound of turkey and a child will eat anywhere from a half a pound to three-quarters of a pound.

The next step is to decide on what kind of turkey you want to purchase. Below is a simple description of the different types you will find at the grocery store.

Fresh - These turkeys need no thawing and are ready to cook. You can pick them up only one or two days before cooking.

Frozen - You can buy this type of turkey weeks in advance, but they'll need several days to thaw in the refrigerator before cooking. The general guideline is one day of thawing for every 4 lbs. So if you have a 16 lb. turkey you will need to have it thaw for four days.

Basted - These turkeys have had moistening or flavoring agents injected into them.

Natural - These turkeys have not been injected with artificial moistening or flavoring agents. As a result, it is known that they may be drier and blander than most other turkeys.

Free-range - When alive, these turkeys were allowed to roam outside their coop.

Organic - This label ensures that the turkeys are free of antibiotics and, when alive, were fed grain that did not contain chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Kosher - These turkeys have been brined in water and salt and processed in accordance with kosher law.

Now you need to prepare for the big day and for roasting your turkey. Below is a check list of what you will need.

- Large roasting pan big enough to fit the turkey (should be about 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep).

- Adjustable, non-stick roasting rack

- Instant-read turkey thermometer (the pop-up thermometer is the best one)

- Oven thermometer

- Butter brush

- Oven mitts

- Transparent bulb baster

- Kitchen twine

- Carving set

- Large cutting board or big platter

Here is a guide to follow when it comes to Roasting the Turkey from the National Turkey Federation:

The National Turkey Federation recommends roasting a turkey breast in a preheated 325-degree oven until a meat thermometer indicates the internal temperature registers 170 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. Pop-up timers are helpful as a preliminary step in judging the correct temperature, but a meat thermometer is the best final authority to determine doneness.

A shallow roasting pan should be used so oven air can flow completely around the turkey breast. Pans with sides higher than one inch will shield the thickest part of the turkey from the heat, and the breast will not cook evenly. For easier clean-up, add 1/2 C. of water to the bottom of the pan.

The addition of 2 C. of coarsely chopped celery, onion and carrots to the breast cavity will enhance the fragrance and add to the flavor of the pan juices. Season the skin and bone sides with salt and pepper.

For uniform results, it is recommended to cook the stuffing outside of the bird. But if the turkey is stuffed, the stuffing should be placed loosely into the breast cavity. The center of the stuffing should reach 165 degrees before removing the turkey from the oven.

Use roasting times as a planning guide only; use a thermometer to determine actual doneness. Allow the turkey breast to stand for 15-20 minutes before carving the bird.

NTF Roasting Guidelines for a Fresh or Thawed Turkey Breast:

Roast in a 325-degree Conventional Oven on the Lowest Oven Rack for:

Weight               Unstuffed Turkey Breast         Stuff Turkey Breast 4 to 6 lbs.          1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours               Not usually applicable

6 to 8 lbs.          2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hours               3 to 3 1/2 hours

Now for the fun part, RECIPES! These delicious and easy recipes are perfect for any special Thanksgiving get together!

Here are some of our Roasted Turkey Recipes

Rosemary Roasted Turkey

Slow-Cooked Garlic Turkey Breast

Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

Home Style Turkey Breast

Herb-Buttered Roasted Turkey

Gravy Giblet Pan Gravy

Basic Turkey Gravy

Low Fat Gravy

Rich Fat Free Brown Gravy

Stuffing Thanksgiving Day Sausage Stuffing

Old Fashion Stuffing

Five Ingredient Stuffing

Festive Cranberry Stuffing

Classic Turkey Stuffing

Cranberry Sauce Orange Cranberry Sauce

Yams with Cranberries and Apples

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Traditional Cranberry Sauce

Casseroles Corn Casserole Squash Casserole Green Bean Casserole Twice Baked Potato Casserole Spinach Casserole Sweet Potato Recipes Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Crisp

Cinnamon Honey Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Cranberry Sweet Potato Bake

Veggies Roasted Root Veggie Medley

Carrots with Ginger and Honey

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions

Baked Mash Carrots

Vegetable Medley

Sides Su’s Green Bean Salad Nutty Raspberry Fluff Golden Herbed Rolls Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Mashed Potatoes Garlic Mashed Potatoes Creamy Mashed Potatoes Twice Mashed Potatoes Onion Mashed Potatoes Heavenly Mashed Potatoes Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Fresh Herbs Day Before Mashed Potatoes

Desserts Pumpkin Pie Cookies Pumpkin Bread Chocolate Pecan Pie Pumpkin Dump Cake Sugarless Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin Cheesecake Apple Sauce Spice Cake Cranberry Walnut Pie You simply cannot have a Thanksgiving feast without some wine for your guests. Below are some different types and flavors of Red and White wines that you can choose from. White Wine Chardonnay - best known for its oak flavor. Watch out for serving a real rich oak flavor of chardonnay. Try looking for a crisp, light oaked wine with herbal flavors. Riesling - a floral, fruity, light wine that appeals to sweet wine drinkers.

Pinot Blanc - a versatile dry white wine that pairs well with all the different flavors and dishes at a Thanksgiving dinner.

Sparkling wines - a wine that is always welcome.

Red Wines

Pinot Noir - this is a top choice for Thanksgiving wines.  The light to medium bodied wine pairs well with the diverse flavors and textures without overpowering the turkey breast.

Zinfandel - The rich red wine will stand up to the strong bold flavors of the Thanksgiving feast.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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