- Remove turkey from freezer and defrost it in the refrigerator.
- Clean the house with the help of family/household members.
Two days prior:
- Make pies, rolls, breads, and cornbread for stuffing. Refrigerate pies; you can always warm things up again before serving.
- Make things that can sit for two days in the fridge such as soups and cranberry sauces (think about foods that always taste better a day or so after they are cooked).
- Prepare dishes that can be stored in the refrigerator uncooked, i.e. casseroles; squash, candied yams or green bean.
|Cooler Full of Food|
One day prior:
- If you ordered a fresh turkey, pick it up.
- Buy your greens and perishable vegetables. Wash and cut vegetables place them in plastic bags then refrigerate or place in cooler.
- Put ice in cooler (keep it in the plastic bag) and start storing food items. Just don’t mix meat items with non meat items. Make sure everything is self contained so that juices do not drip and contaminate other items. Place cooler in garage or other cool area until you need it the next day.
- Do any remaining baking.
- Prepare all other vegetables for cooking. Get all ingredients needed to put your dishes together peeled, cut, diced and sliced. Store them in containers in the refrigerator or cooler.
- Wash, dry and season turkey inside and out with dry seasonings. Wrap in foil or plastic and refrigerate. Also marinade/season any other meats or fish.
- It's easier if you set the table today.
- Estimate your cooking time for tomorrow and determine the order you need to cook you dishes in.
- Now get a good night sleep.
Day of the Event:
- Prepare stuffing
- Season any other meat (roast/ham) or fish you may be serving. Then wrap and refrigerate until it’s time to cook.
- Boil potatoes and mash them, cook other vegetables. They can be reheated just before serving.
Cooking Time for Turkey
12 pound turkey – cook 2 hours
15 pound turkey – cook 3 hours + 25 minutes
18 pound turkey – cook 3 hours + 55 Minutes
20 pound turkey – cook 4 hours + 20 minutes
- Get the turkey/other meats in the oven according to the schedule you determined.
- After the turkey is in the oven - if you have completed the rest of the tasks you have time to relax an hour or so.
- Just before the turkey's done, begin cooking fresh vegetables, get anything else that needs to go into the oven ready (stuffing, store bought rolls, etc.).
While the cooked turkey is resting:
- Put a foil tent over the turkey. You have an hour to complete the rest of the food.
- Put the stuffing, fish or any casserole not already cooked in the oven now.
- Warm whatever needs to be warmed, including mashed potatoes, rolls, soups, and casseroles.
- Cook any remaining vegetables.
- Make the gravy.
- Put all the food on the table or buffet. Have family members assist with filling the glasses, gravy bowl, etc.
- You are now ready to chow down! Sit, relax and enjoy yourself feasting on the great meal you just created.