We had the joy of serving Thanksgiving dinner to American troops in Okinawa for 10 years. Each of those years around 100 people attended the meal. Feeding 1,000 people Thanksgiving dinner taught me a few tricks I thought I would share.
1. My best trick is cooking the turkey on Wednesday. We bake it in an oven bag, carve it, and put it back in the pan with all the juices that were saved in its bag. It soaks in the juice over night and then we reheat it on Thursday with it still in its juice. This makes for a very moist bird, as well as extra oven space and less stress on Thursday.
2. Almost anything can be made ahead of time on Tuesday or Wednesday. Potatoes can be mashed and reheated in a crock pot. Pie crusts and pie filling can be prepared on Wednesday and baked on Thursday. You can set your table on Wednesday. Do as much as you can on Wednesday. Setup your drinks. Prep your buffet. Don't go to bed until you've done all you can. The less stress you have on Thursday the more thankful you will be!
3. A favorite cranberry relish recipe is as follows: Dump 1 - 12oz package of fresh cranberries, plus 1 whole orange (peel and all), plus 1 cup sugar all into a food processor. Blend until slightly chunky but pretty smooth. Strong, fabulous flavor!
4. This leftover turkey and wild rice soup is the best ever. A friend once said it could bring people to Jesus. Definitely use your leftovers this way.
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken or turkey broth
2 cups cooked wild rice (save time and use the Uncle Ben's microwavable pouches)
2 cups cubed cooked turkey
2 cups half-and-half cream
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
- In a Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery and onion; cook and stir until tender.
- Stir in flour until blended; cook until bubbly. Gradually whisk in broth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the remaining ingredients; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Yield: 12 servings (about 3 quarts).
- (I got this recipe from http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/turkey-wild-rice-soup, because all my cookbooks are on a train right now, but the original recipe I used is from the awesome Cadence cookbook.)
5. Lastly, my kids have had so much fun making the following crafts/foods that we've put at each place setting. It keeps them busy while I do the "real" cooking and they have cherished their role.