Nov 17, 2011

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for a Crowd

When you offered to host Thanksgiving dinner, it seemed like the right thing to do - and it is. As host of a Thanksgiving feast, you get to cook traditional family favorites and try some new recipes, use the season's best ingredients, and be the ultimate dinner host.
Cooking for a crowd requires some pre-planning and careful scheduling, but it can be double, triple or quadruple the fun. Here are five tips for cookingThanksgiving dinner for a crowd.

1. Make a second turkey
Don't panic: You won't have to double stuff, double baste and double carve, in the middle of everything else you've got to do on Thanksgiving Day. Roast one turkey the day before Thanksgiving, unstuffed. Carve the turkey and refrigerate the turkey slices in an airtight container. Toward the end of thecooking time of the rest of your Thanksgiving meal, place the turkey slices on a platter, add some turkey broth or chicken broth, cover with foil and warm before serving.

2. Offer an alternative meat
Stuffed pork loin, Cornish hens, a honey baked ham or a vegetarian lasagna will offer an alternative for those who don't like turkey or who don't eat meat. Another main dish meat also ensures you won't run out of the main course.

3. Make ahead what you can
Pumpkin pies and other desserts can be made in their entirety the day before Thanksgiving. Rolls, bread and cranberry sauce can also be pre-made.
Other dishes, like mashed potato casseroles, sweet potatoes, stuffing and other side dishes, can be started the day before. Green beans can be washed, trimmed and stored in airtight Ziploc bags, vegetables for salads can be sliced and chopped and set aside, and nuts can be toasted ahead of time
It helps to make a list of what you have to do for each dish on your menu and divide the jobs so that your work in the kitchen is paced and not rushed at the last minute.

4. Two small is better than one large
With many side dishes, doubling, tripling and quadrupling recipes makes for awkward and messy cooking and less-than superior taste. If you're not sure how Grandma's sweet potato casserole will taste if it's multiplied by more than two, make two or even three regular dishes instead.

5. Serve Thanksgiving dinner buffet style
When choosing a dinner serving style, keep in mind the flow of many people. Family style is quaint, but with a crowd buffet style works best. Set your meal in serving dishes on the kitchen counter or long buffet table and have guests pick up a plate, get their food and take a seat.

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