Tomorrow we will be enjoying an Unprocessed and Local Thanksgiving Menu. Today I spent some time doing some basic prep so we can enjoy the Packer game and great friends without having to stress about meal preparations too much. Below you will find an outline of our menu and the prep work from today.
Our Local Unprocessed Thanksgiving Menu
Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Prosciutto (Appetizer)
Maple Baked Acorn Squash
Whole Wheat Rolls
Sweet Potato Casserole
Dill Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Butternut Squash Stuffing
Prosciutto Wrapped Turkey
Mixed Berry Torte with Cashew Date Crust
Day Before Prep– Below you will find a list of things I did to prepare for tomorrows big meal. We aren’t expecting nearly as many people as usual; however, I prefer to spend the day enjoying the people around me rather than drowning myself in kitchen chores. Here is what I did to make my Thanksgiving a bit more enjoyable.
Turkey Brine: Clean and rinse your turkey. Store the neck and gizzards in the refrigerator until tomorrow. Find a covered container to soak your turkey in for 24 hours (I used a 12 qt. stock pot.) In your container mix 1 gallon water, 1 T. peppercorns, 1 c. salt, 3 bay leaves, 1 T. Dried Thyme, ½ T. Fennel, and ice. Add your turkey. Cover and store in the refrigerator or other cool place.
*Keep in mind, on day two, you need to remove your turkey from its brine about 1 hour before cooking.
Sweet Potato Casserole: Peel, cube, and boil 3 sweet potatoes. Once soft, remove from heat and drain. Using a hand mixer, blend the potatoes, 1/3 c. milk, 3 T. butter, 2 t. vanilla extract, 1 egg, and 1 T. maple syrup. When the mixture is blended smooth, transfer to a covered baking dish and store in the refrigerator until tomorrow.
Torte Crust & Berry Filling: Using the attached recipe, prepare the crust. Cover in the baking dish and set aside until tomorrow. Prepare the filling ingredients, cover and refrigerate until needed tomorrow. For this recipe, I substituted a ½ pound of almonds for a ½ pound of cashews, 3 ½ cups blackberries for 3 cups plums, and 1 ½ T. whole wheat flour for the cornstarch.
Dates: Pit your dates and cut them in half. Fill with blue cheese and wrap in narrow strips of prosciutto. Place prepared dates in a pan and cover with foil. Keep dates in the refrigerator until about an hour before you plan to serve them.
In addition to preparing food, I laid out each serving and baking dish I will need along with the nonperishable ingredients associated with each. I rearranged the kitchen to accommodate everyone, washed our napkins, wiped down counters, lightly cleaned the floors, and enjoyed a bottle of wine in the process.
Tomorrow: I will only need to prepare my stuffing, rolls, squash, potatoes and turkey. While this sounds like a lot of cooking and prep, these are all quick and easy things to prepare and shouldn’t require a large time commitment. This is the first year I have prepared this much in advance and I am hoping it works in my advantage. Normally I am up by 5am and feeling stressed. Tomorrow will be much more enjoyable than years past. I would love to hear how other people prepare for a large gathering that centers on food. What are your menus and how do you prepare for the crowd?
To everyone reading, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with some of the greatest people in your life. Cheers!