I have always enjoyed preparing and sharing food for the people I love. But I also like spending time with my family and friends. Several years ago I began making my Thanksgiving turkey ahead of time. Besides the fact that I would prefer being with my kids instead of in the kitchen, that giant bird takes up a huge amount of space in my oven and juggling the time with other dishes was stressful. While the turkey is probably considered the star of the meal, it’s the supporting cast of sides, salads and desserts that people at my house prefer anyway.
Another shortcut I have taken, and don’t know why it took me so long to make this decision, is to cook only the parts of the turkey that we actually eat. While the whole turkey is great for a grand entrance, it was just not practical at my house. And while I am just fine cooking for an audience having done that on TV for many year, I don’t like carving for a crowd. A lovely presentation platter can be created without the entire turkey and it is easier to serve.
Here are a few tips for storing, reheating and serving the turkey followed by one of my favorite roasted turkey recipes and a make ahead gravy recipe:
- While both the turkey and gravy can be frozen, I prefer to prepare it only a day or 2 in advance and refrigerate instead of freezing for the ultimate juicy, flavorful turkey.
- After roasting, let the turkey rest before slicing so the juices will be absorbed and your turkey will be more moist. Slice and place on a shallow pan in an even shallow layer.
- Cover the cooked, sliced turkey tightly with plastic wrap before refrigerating.
- To prepare for serving, let the refrigerated turkey come to room temperature, which takes about 30 minutes.
- Drizzle the turkey with a little homemade or canned chicken broth before reheating. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
- Do the reheating at a high temperature (450 degrees) for a short time (approximately 10 minutes) so that it will not continue cooking, but only reheating. Check about halfway to make sure it is just reheating, not cooking.
Tell Me: What’s your favorite dish at the table on Thanksgiving?