Holiday Feature


Timetable For a Thanksgiving Dinner


If using a frozen turkey, allow 3 days in the refrigerator to thaw. Or thaw in water.

About The Timetable

There's no way around the fact that most of the Thanksgiving meal is best done that day. This timetable takes into account the need to wash dishes as you go along, thereby keeping your kitchen neat with plenty of counterspace for working comfortably. At the end of each task, take a few minutes to wash the bowls and utensils you have just used and to clean the counter. You'll find the whole process much more pleasurable and easier to manage if you do.

Mise en Place: This is a French term for preparing all the ingredients for a dish in advance, such as washing, trimming and chopping vegetables; setting out your spices and herbs, etc. Do it at the beginning of the day and the rest of the cooking will be a cinch.

Things To Do The Day Before

  • Bake the cornbread. Refrigerate overnight until ready to use. (The cornbread may also be baked several weeks before and frozen; thaw in the refrigerator.)
  • Toast the pecans and seal in airtight container overnight, or freeze if made weeks in advance.
  • Assemble your Batterie de Cuisine.
  • Set the table and assemble your serving dishes and utensils.

What To Do Thanksgiving Day

Allow yourself about 4-1/2 hours from start to finish.


Perform any "mis en place" tasks, including:

  • chopping the onions, celery and other ingredients for the cornbread dressing.
  • peeling and trimming the vegetables for the stock
  • trimming the green beans
  • setting out any ingredients you will need for the herb seasoning, lemon-vinaigrette and
  • cranberry relish.


Prepare the Cornbread-Water Chestnut Dressing up until the point of adding the stock. Set aside.


Turn on the oven for the turkey.
Make the seasoning rub.
Prepare the turkey according to the recipe.


Roast the turkey; baste every 30 minutes with pan juices. Check the temperature using an instant read thermometer. You may need to continue cooking if not completely done.


Prepare the stock and skim surface.


Add the vegetables to the skimmed stock. Simmer the stock slowly.


Make the cranberry relish. Refrigerate until ready to use. At 2:00, baste the turkey.


Prepare the green beans and the lemon-vinaigrette for the salad, but do not dress until later. Set out the ingredients for the gravy; if you haven't already done so, get the serving utensils out. At 2:30, baste the turkey.


Add the stock to the cornbread dressing, stir and place in the pan. Cover with foil and place in the oven according to the recipe. At 3:00, baste the turkey, and rotate the pan around in the oven so it cooks evenly.


Bake the cornbread dressing covered with foil. Then remove the foil. At 3:30, baste the turkey. In between, mingle with any guests that start to arrive.


Bake the cornbread dressing *uncovered.* At 4:00, check the turkey to see if it's done. If not, continue cooking and checking every ten minutes until done. Remove the dressing and cover with foil to keep warm. In between, mingle.

4:00—4:20 (or as soon as the turkey is done)

Remove the turkey from oven and make the gravy according to recipe. While the gravy is simmering, dress the green bean salad and get the meal ready for serving.


Enjoy your Thanksgiving Dinner and get ready for loads of compliments.

Thanksgiving No-Brainer


FoodWine's Perfect Turkey Handbook
Using a Meat Thermometer


This page modified November 2006

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