Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Day prep

I enjoyed a busy day at work on Thanksgiving Day. As the chef in a institutional program, holiday meals give me the chance to cook a special meal for the residents. The holiday meal provides a break from the routine of the standard menu.

Prep work began on Monday morning when I placed two 12- to 13-pound turkeys in the refrigerator to thaw. On Tuesday morning, I wrote a list of a dozen tasks that had to be completed in two days. I worked on most items on the list while cooking the regular meals.

Here's a list of the prep work for the Thanksgiving Day meal. Even though the holiday has past, it gives you an idea of how to organize prep for any large meal.

  • Thaw turkey
  • Finish shopping for the meal
  • Cut carrots and celery for relish tray; place in ice water
  • Prepare orange cranberry relish from 2 (12-ounce) bags of fresh cranberries
  • Prepare 1 quart of cilantro lime vinaigrette
  • Dice 3 pounds of cracked wheat sourdough bread for stuffing
  • Prepare 1 cup of green salt by whirling 1 cup kosher salt with fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in the food processor; the salt was used to season the turkey
  • Thaw turkey
  • Peel 9 pounds (A.P.) of fresh sweet potatoes
  • Gently simmer sweet potatoes in salted water until al dente
  • Prepare about 3 quarts of turkey stock from the necks, giblets and hearts
  • Remove plastic wrapping from turkey and set in roasting pan
  • Baked 4 pumpkin and 2 pecan pies with assistance from a team of residents
  • Remove turkey from refrigeration and season at 9:15 a.m.
  • Place turkey in oven at 10 a.m.
  • Two residents assemble the relish tray appetizer at noon
  • Complete the rest of the meal meal between noon and 2 p.m. with assistance from a team of residents
  • Pull turkey from oven at around 1:30 p.m.
  • Carved turkey two residents mashed the potatoes and the rest of the hot dishes
  • Served the meal at 3 p.m.
  • Traditional relish tray with carrot and celery sticks, radish roses, stuffed green olives, pepperoncini peppers and gherkin pickles
  • Tossed green salad with cilantro lime vinaigrette
  • Roast hen turkey
  • Giblet bread dressing
  • Mashed garlic potatoes
  • Candied sweet potatoes
  • Braised collard greens with smoked turkey necks
  • Mustard herb gravy
  • Orange cranberry sauce

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