Thanksgiving is upon us and there are several things we can do as cooks to make our lives easier.  Here are a few reminders to keep us on track. I think it will take a lot of pressure off the cook time wise.

If you do not have a fresh turkey thaw your frozen one in the refrigerator 3-4 days in advance

Make mash potatoes 1-2 days ahead. Just add 1/2 cup sour cream and one 8 oz. brick of cream cheese softened to your mixture and mash as usual. They will stay light fluffy and fresh up to 2 days.

Most desserts can be made 1-2 days  in advance and kept in airtight containers or plastic wrap tightly sealed.  Obviously some need refrigeration.

Now the turkey itself…our family usually cooks it overnight on slow roast. Remove Giblets. Cover the bird with foil in a large roasting pan. Place in a 250 Degree oven all night (I usually put mine in at 9-10 PM).  Before placing in the oven, stuff cavity with 1 Lg. rough chopped onion, 5 cloves of garlic, 4 large sprigs of rosemary,  1 lemon quartered.  You may place this in cheese cloth bundle if desired, for easy removal.  Place a tear in the skin between the leg and breast and stuff under the skin with a compound butter of garlic powder.  Rub surface with salt and pepper to taste.  Bake until morning under foil tent;  then keep on 200 degrees to keep warm.  30 minutes before serving bring oven to 400 degrees, remove foil and brown and heat throughout .  Done!

Gravy can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator.   You don’t have to wait for your turkey to be ready.  How to:

INGREDIENTS:  Oven to 400 *  Serves 8

1 Lg.                  Onion Chopped

2 Lg                   Carrots Chopped

2 ribs                 Celery Chopped

2 tsp.                Vegetable Oil

2 Lg                   Turkey Wings or 1 Turkey Leg

4  Cups             Turkey Stock

4 Cups               Water

4 Sprigs            Thyme

3 Cloves            Garlic

3 Tbsp.              Butter

1/2 Cup             All purpose flour

1/2 tsp.             Salt and Ground pepper (or to taste)

One or two days before roast 2 turkey wings or one turkey leg in an oven safe pot.  Shake the vegetables in a zip lock bag with oil to coat.  Place the meat over Carrots, celery, onion, in canola oil. Roast at 400* for 55 minutes until meat is brown and vegetables caramelized.

Place the roasted mixture in a large stockpot.  Place the roasting pan on the stove top on medium heat and pour 4 Tbsp of the chicken stock in to deglaze the browned bits. Now transfer this mixture to the stock pot and add the water and rest of the stock, thyme and garlic.

Simmer on stovetop uncovered for 3 hours. Reserve 2 Tbsp fat skimmed of top for later.  When done strain for 6 cups of stock  to remain.

In a large sauce pan heat butter, reserved turkey fat in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Sprinkle in flour and cook, whisking continuously, until a golden roué forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly pour in turkey stock, whisking continuously.  Increase  heat to high and simmer until thick. Check for salt and pepper to taste.  Will keep safely in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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