Originally published Nov. 10, 2015.
So you’re hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. The big day is right around the corner and if you’re freaking out—don’t worry. IHMVCU has taken the time to round up the best advice for first time hosts and hostesses.
Don’t forget to thaw the turkey. If you’re using a frozen bird, know that depending on the size it can take up to a week to thaw entirely. If you’re feeding a large crowd, you definitely need to plan ahead—so buying the turkey the night before is probably not a good bet. According to the USDA, it takes about 24 hours in the fridge for each 4-5 pounds of turkey.
Remove the giblets. If you’ve never roasted a bird before, you may not know that there’s a little bag of giblets (i.e. raw organs) inside your turkey. The good news is that your turkey may not be ruined if you forget to remove it. Again, the USDA has some great food-safety advice when it comes to giblets. If you do forget to remove them, giblets packed in paper are no concern if accidentally cooked in the turkey. Giblets packed in plastic are a different story. If the plastic bag comes out of the turkey unaltered, the giblets and poultry are safe to eat. If the bag is melted or altered at all, it’s best to trash the whole bird.
Use a turkey bag. The internet and IHMVCU staff agree—when cooking a turkey, using an oven bag is a no-brainer. You get moist, juicy turkey inside and crispy skin outside. The bag method doesn’t allow the juices to evaporate though, so there’s no fond for gravy (aka brown bits at the bottom of the pan). If you want gravy, poke a hole in the bottom of the bag during the last hour of cooking, allowing the juices to drain into the bottom of the roasting pan.
Do as much as you can the night before. Most side dishes can be prepared the night before and reheated before dinner. Our very own VP of Marketing, Amy Orr, even roasts her turkey the night before. Think it can’t be done? Think again. Roast and carve your turkey as usual, then put the meat in a storage container with a little juice, and store the rest of the drippings separately. On the big day, transfer your meat and the juice you stored it with to a glass or metal container, cover it with foil and throw it in the oven with one of your sides until warm. Amy says you’d never know it was cooked the night before, and we trust her.
You don’t have to do it all. Asking around the IHMVCU corporate office, most people agreed it’s perfectly acceptable to ask your guests to bring a dish. Rather than just asking everyone to bring something, give everyone a specific dish to bring. You don’t want to have four bowls of mashed potatoes and no green bean casserole.
What’s your advice for first time hosts and hostesses? If you’ve never hosted before, what’s your biggest worry for the big day?
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