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Best. Thanksgiving. Ever! Plan Your Thanksgiving Dinner

With many families planning their Thanksgiving holiday now, we thought it would be fun to provide some of our favorite planning tips and techniques so that you can enjoy a hassle free, delicious dinner with your family and friends this holiday season.

Make ahead side dishes

You can get an early start on your Thanksgiving dinner preparations by selecting and making some of your side dishes ahead of time.  This will not only help save you time the day of Thanksgiving, but it can also alleviate the stress of cooking everything on the holiday.  There are make-ahead methods and shortcut ingredients that can make side dish preparation easier. Here are a few of our favorites:

Green Beans with Almonds – you can cook these up a day ahead of time and easily reheat this dish on Thanksgiving Day just before serving the turkey.  Here is a great recipe from Better Homes & Gardens that can serve up to 8 and is easy to double for more.

Blue Cheese and Pine Nut Puffs – why pop a can of processed biscuits when you can make fluffy, cheese-filled puffs that will complement any holiday dinner.  This recipe will make about 100 puffs, plenty for a large crowd and can be made up to a month ahead of time and frozen.  Just follow the instructions to reheat frozen puffs and serve warm with dinner.

Homemade Stuffing – these recipes for homemade stuffing will have you skipping the store-bought stuffing aisle in the grocery store. With just three steps you can make your own homemade breadcrumbs that can be used for a variety of different stuffings. There are so many different recipes for delicious stuffing we couldn’t decide on just one, so click here to explore the recipes and choose the best one to complement your dinner.

Picking the perfect turkey

There are few things you need to determine in order to select just the right turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner. Many consumers are not aware that there are differences between fresh and frozen turkeys.  “Fresh” turkeys are labeled accordingly based on whether or not they have been chilled below 26˚ F because turkey meat does not freeze at 32˚ F but at a temperature around 26˚ F.  Frozen turkeys are chilled below 0˚ F and could be defrosted, labeled and sold as “previously frozen”.  Most turkey producers agree that freezing adversely affects the texture and the taste of the meat.

If a turkey isn’t labeled as either fresh or frozen it’s most likely “hard-chilled” or “not previously frozen”.  This type of turkey would have been chilled below 26˚ F but not below 0˚ F, which means it can’t be labeled as fresh or frozen.  Our recommendation is for whatever turkey you choose that you look for one without any added ingredients and organic, kosher or premium brand for the best quality cooked turkey dinner.

The size of the turkey matters, depending on how many guests will be having dinner.  When determining the size of the turkey, a good rule of thumb is three-quarters to one pound of turkey per person, which will be enough for dinner only. If you want leftovers to send home with guests or to have the next day, experts recommend calculating at least one to one-and-a-half pounds per person.  You could also buy two smaller turkeys that equal the total weight you require and roast them together which could save on roasting time as compared to one large turkey.  Another benefit to this technique is that smaller turkeys tend to remain more tender and juicy.

When Traditional Doesn’t Cut It

If turkey is not your favorite or you are looking to serve something less traditional, but full of flavor, consider some alternatives to a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Here are some suggestions for main course meats that will wow your guests:

  • Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
  • Orange Roasted Duck
  • Lasagna
  • Roasted Pheasant
  • Beef Wellington
  • Salmon or Halibut

With many families planning their Thanksgiving holiday now, we thought it would be fun to provide some of our favorite planning tips and techniques so that you can enjoy a hassle-free, delicious dinner with your family and friends this holiday season.

Some families choose to make an additional main course along with the traditional Turkey so that there is a main course that will please everyone at the table.  Whichever you choose, be sure to have side dishes that complement your main course for a well-balanced, tasteful dinner.

If you are not sure how to proceed with your Thanksgiving menu or want to enjoy the day with family and friends without the hassle of days of preparation and cooking, consider having your holiday meal catered.  Jacques Exclusive Caterers has been catering holiday dinners for four generations. Our complete holiday menu includes all of your traditional favorites, as well as a variety of specialty items and cultural cuisines to choose from.  Contact us today, or click here to view our holiday catering menu.

By Frank Mamola

Frank brings over 25 years of special event and food/beverage experience to the team.

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403 State Route 36
Hazlet, NJ 07730
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