The biggest cooking day of the year is finally upon us. Notice, I didn’t say the best cooking day, because it isn’t. There’s just far too much pressure put on the family cooks to produce way too many dishes for it to be an enjoyable cooking experience even for veterans. The resulting “gourmet” meal tends to suffer. More isn’t necessarily better.
For some strange reason, while Americans discard and disassociate ourselves from most traditional customs, we can’t give up our idealized visions of the Thanksgiving spread. What I have observed (I’m not judging) over the past 10 years is that a couple of take-out items or some fast-food are good enough for most holidays, but not Thanksgiving: This is America’s feast and a strict menu must be followed. Turkey remains essential, accompanied by as many starches as you can find on Pinterest, a few overcooked vegetables and lackluster pies. Boy oh boy, I can’t wait for them leftovers!
While all of these foods might be simple to prepare on their own, the sheer volume can drown even the most intrepid home cook. I feel your pain!
So I’m offering y’all some last minute advice to conquer this marathon day. One: Begin drinking early. This is the perfect day to start a tradition of pouring beer on your cornflakes. Ah, a healthful beginning. Now you must adhere to that comprehensive prep list and timeline. Without well-thought-out lists, it’s too easy to lose track of time and bust your groove.
My prep lists begin with a menu based not only on “timeless” favorites, but also on my cooking and refrigeration space. Understanding which dishes can and cannot be executed efficiently in your kitchen is paramount to success. Many can be partially prepped one or two days before and just finished à la minute. Stuffing, pies and cakes are great examples. The more quality time you can devote to each, the better the result.
Once you’ve finished your malty cornflake breakfast, you should get the big bird in the oven. The turkey and many root vegetable dishes won’t suffer from a quick reheat just before service, so get ’em going early. Don’t forget to check your timeline frequently—oh, it’s 10 a.m. already… better freshen up that bourbon-and-water. Don’t forget the most important part of the meal: the gravy. Make sure you get all the drippings from the turkey pan and add some white wine: a little for the gravy, a little for the cook. I hope everything will be delicious. BTW, here’s a great recipe for leftover turkey.
CHEF BILL’S Thai Turkey, Coconut & Rice Noodle Soup
- 1-1/2 cups turkey broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 tbsp. minced lemongrass
- 1 tbsp. finely julienned ginger
- 1 serrano chili pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. yellow curry paste
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3 tbsp. fish sauce, or to taste
- 1 lb. turkey breast, roasted,
- 2-inch julienned
- 8 oz. fried rice noodles, cooked to package directions
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 bunch cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
- 1/2 serrano, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lime, in wedges
- Quickly sauté the lemongrass, ginger, serrano and curry paste in the oil.
- Add the turkey stock and water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk, turkey and fish sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes, adjust seasoning and add cooked noodles.
Until we cook again,
Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of The Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at firstname.lastname@example.org to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!