Thanksgiving meal laid out on a table

How-To: Tackle your Thanksgiving timing

Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful for the host or hostess, particularly if they are cooking the meal alone. Luckily, we spoke with Chef Josh Castillo of Charlie’s Coastal Bistro on how to tackle the timing of preparing such a large meal. Thanksgiving cooking will be a breeze with these four steps.

Chopped root vegetables in the kitchen

Prepare as much as you can days ahead

“For starters, I would think of this in terms of what I can prep ahead. The turkey, for example, is one of those things you want to get a jump on two to three days ahead of time. This way you can put it in a brine overnight, drain it the next day and let it dry out overnight in the fridge. Some other things can be done the day before or even two days before and cooled down and stored. That way the day of your event, you can pull them out for an hour or two before cooking to get them closer to room temperature.” 

Prepare the turkey and pull out preparations three hours out

“Now as for the day of the main event, you want to start prepping and cooking the things that are going to take the longest. The turkey, for example, will need to be pulled out the morning of the event for at least three hours ahead to come up to room temperature. That way it will cut down on your cooking time and cook more evenly. Remember to take out those other preparations that need to come to room temperature.” 

Start last-minute cooking one hour before the turkey is done

“Now that the turkey is out of the way, and you have all of the things you have started to prep ahead coming up in temperature, concentrate on those last things you have to make. This includes sauces, sides, desserts and giving time for the turkey or ham to cook. I would say when you’re about an hour until the turkey is done is a good time to start adding all other things that may take longer to heat in your oven. Start putting your sauces on low heat with whatever else you may have in a pot. Keep it all as warm as possible until everything is ready.” 

Let everything rest, including yourself

“Finally you can take a moment for yourself to get yourself together and organized. You can let the food rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. One last great tip is to get some chafers to keep your food hot but not burning.” 

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