Turkey 101

THE COUNTDOWN

November 17, 1993|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Staff Writer

Here's a countdown to help you orchestrate your Thanksgiving meal preparation.

Two weeks to 10 days before:

*Plan the menu. Try to arrange dishes that can be cooked at various times -- some prepared ahead and reheated, some served cold, maybe one cooked in the microwave.

*Collect recipes and begin making a grocery list. Keep a separate list for last-minute items.

*If you are asking others to bring a dish, coordinate assignments now.

*Check linens, silver and serving pieces to make sure you have enough for all guests. Arrange to have enough chairs.

Weekend before:

*Do heaviest part of housework, so a quick clean-up will do Thanksgiving morning.

*Shop for most of the items you will need. Try to arrange supermarket visit during off-hours, so you won't have to fight a crowd.

*Assign such tasks as setting the table and clearing off to children. Also, older ones might entertain younger ones while last-minute meal preparation goes on, or older children might plan music to be played during the meal.

*Clean out refrigerator to create plenty of storage space.

Saturday before:

*If your frozen turkey weighs 16 pounds or more, remove it from freezer and place it on a tray in refrigerator to begin thawing.

Three to four days before:

*Begin thawing frozen turkey weighing less than 16 pounds. Allow 5 hours per pound. Thawed bird can be kept in refrigerator.

*Prepare dishes that can be made ahead, such as side dishes, desserts or appetizers, and store them in freezer or fridge.

*Check recipes and grocery lists to make sure you have all items. Shop now, if necessary.

Day to 2 days before:

*Pick up fresh turkey and store it, in original wrappings, in the refrigerator.

Day and night before:

*Prepare desserts, chop ingredients for last-minute preparation and store in plastic bags in fridge.

*Set table and get out serving dishes.

*Decorate table, sideboard and any other public areas.

Thanksgiving Day:

*Prepare stuffing and place in oven-proof bowl.

*Prepare turkey for roasting. It usually takes five or six hours from getting the bird out of the refrigerator to getting it out of the oven. Calculate rough roasting time and work backward to time other dishes.

*Place frozen dishes in refrigerator to thaw.

*Prepare any remaining side dishes.

*Prepare appetizers, if not made ahead.

*Do last-minute cleanup.

An hour or so before turkey is done:

*Set out appetizers; greet guests; vow to take any last-minute problems in stride, and enjoy the holiday.

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