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Use these Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Cooking CornerThanksgiving is the biggest food holiday of the year, but preparing the feast doesn’t have to be stressful if you follow a few simple tips,” says Sara Moulton, chef, cookbook author, and TV host of “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” on PBS.

“First, decide what kind and what size of turkey you’re going to buy,” says Moulton. She recommends buying 1 pound of bird per person, to allow for leftovers. “If you’re buying a frozen bird, note when to start defrosting it in the fridge—you’ll need 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds,” she says.

“Prepare the gravy a day ahead, then ‘marry’ it to the drippings in roasting pan while the turkey is resting. Other essential dishes to prepare ahead are stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes.

Cook and rice the potatoes, then refrigerate. On Thanksgiving, “nuke” them and add softened butter and warm milk. Another trick to make preparation go more smoothly is to create a timetable listing everything you are going to prepare and when and post it on the fridge,” says Moulton.

Sara’s Make-Ahead Gravy

Serves 8

Make about 1?2–¾ cup gravy per person. You’ll need that much gravy to pour over everything and have leftovers. For each cup of gravy, use 1 cup broth, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons flour.

  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey broth, heated
  • ½ cup dry red or white wine reserved liquid from turkey roasting drippings reserved liquid from turkey resting platter

In a medium saucepan over moderately low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 5 minutes. Add broth in a stream, whisking to boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Let gravy cool, transfer to a bowl, and cover and chill overnight. Note: The gravy will be thick but you’ll be adding liquid and thinning it before serving.


On Thanksgiving Day, platter your cooked turkey and cover it loosely with foil, pour drippings into a fat separator, and discard fat. Place bird roasting pan on two burners of the stovetop and use medium heat. Add wine and reserved drippings, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Whisk in premade gravy and any juices from resting turkey; salt and pepper to taste, cooking until hot. Serve with the bird.

Carving the bird: “My last tip to avoid stress: Carve the bird in the kitchen, not at the table and make sure you have a very sharp knife or knives.”

Chef’s Choice® Turkey-Carving Tips

Turkey-Carving Tips
Turkey-Carving Tips

Step 1
Be sure to use a good, sharp knife. Sharp knives are not only safer, but they will also help you smoothly cut thin, even slices without shred­ding the meat. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert to put a razor-sharp edge on your knife. Chef’sChoice® M130 professionally sharpens, steels and strops all brands and types of knives. Preci­sion guides eliminate guesswork for sharp, durable edges. For help finding a sharpener that’s right for you, call 800.342.3255 or visit www.chefschoice.com

Step 2
After the turkey is cooked (the meat thermometer should read 180–185° F when inserted in the thickest part of the turkey), cool the bird for 15 minutes. Cooling makes the meat firmer and easier to slice.

Remove and set aside the turkey legs and the last joint of each wing.

Make a long, deep (to the bone) horizontal “base cut” into the breast just above the wing.


Step 3
Slice down vertically through the breast until you meet the orig­inal base cut. This will release perfect, even slices.

Following these preparation and carving tips can help make your Thanksgiving a meal to remember.

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