Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving 101: Meal Planning

Planning the Thanksgiving menu is exciting and daunting at the same time. You don't want to serve so many dishes that preparing and heating them becomes unmanageable—but nothing would be worse than not having enough to eat on the most gluttonous day of the year. I use a chart to get a handle on the menu and keep all relevant recipes handy. Not only is this chart illustrated below for you, gentle reader, but it has been populated with links to many BGC recipes that might be welcome on your Thanksgiving table!

Our Thanksgiving meal is usually a mix of tried-and-true family favorites, and new recipes culled from cookbooks, magazines, and the Interwebs. I recommend that you compile a list of dishes for each course (appetizers; soup, pasta, and/or salad course if you do that; turkey, sides, and accoutrements; and desserts) and then add/whittle down to what seems appropriate for your size group. Try to think about what can be made in advance and reheated, and what others will be bringing—and bear in mind the limits of burner and oven space.

Below (after the jump) is a sample menu. You could add more fields to your chart -- e.g., how much to multiply a recipe by; how many days in advance a dish can be prepared; a "Vegetarian?" checkbox to gauge whether meat-averse guests will have enough options; and so on. If a recipe is not online, you might want to note the cookbook/magazine issue date it comes from, and the page number, in the Recipe field.

Course Dish Recipe
Appetizer Hummus
Appetizer Babaghanoush
Appetizer Pan-grilled Flatbread
Appetizer Potato Pancakes
Appetizer Spicy Squash Seeds
Soup Curried Butternut Squash Bisque
Main Brined Roast Turkey Brine recipe
Accoutrement Mushroom Gravy
Accoutrement Canned cranberry sauce w/lines n/a
Accoutrement Canned cranberry sauce w/ no lines n/a
Side Stuffing, cornbread * TBD
Side Stuffing, saltine * Mom will make
Side Stuffing, Stove Top * Back of the box
Side Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Side Roasted Potatoes
Side Roasted Fennel
Dessert Pumpkin pie TBD
Dessert Pecan pie TBD
Dessert Sweet potato cake TBD
Dessert Chocolate chip cookies Aunty Olga will bring

(We'll fill in the TBD fields with links to cookbook recipes and/or new BGC posts.)

* One final note: Please be accepting of the fact that you may need to make several kinds of stuffing, especially if you are hosting a blended/extended family, as stuffing is an emotionally and culturally charged thing. For instance, along with the cornbread stuffing I like, we serve a saltine-based stuffing for my stepfather and (gulp) a package of Stove Top for The Rob. Yes, it goes against everything I stand for to prepare a prepackaged mix on the foodiest day of the year... but hey, it's his family tradition, so who are we to judge?

1 comment:

  1. ah stuffing wars.
    In our house, when we do a turkey (yes, I said when, I will tell the story of Turkey-Gate 2005 soon) we have 1 type of stuffing, but it's split into two: "In the bird" and "Out of the bird" of course the stuffing that cooked outside of the turkey in a baking dish is drier, not as savory, and the "In the bird" stuffing is always gone quickly. Watching my father and sister argue about how much stuffing the other has taken in their 1st, 2nd, and (if it goes around) 3rd helpings, is always a magical magical turkey day event.