It’s been a few years now since I’ve been able to really go all-out for one of my all time favorite holidays—a holiday that can only be done in one very particular way in my humble opinion! The process is a follows (taken directly from my notebook):
- Prep: 1-2 days prior
- Ordering, cooking, decorating, etc.
- Day of: TONS OF FOOD
- Gather around a big bird (most likely turkey, but I’m surprisingly flexible here)
- More importantly: SIDES!!!!!
- Maybe have one glass too many
- Give back
- Asleep by 7:30
That’s right, If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m talking about the one… the only… Thanksgiving!!
The extra exciting thing about Thanksgiving 2021 is that we’ve begun to enter the “roaring 20s:” We’ve been given a big dose of appreciation for everything there is to be thankful for and we’re ready to gather & eat & party like never before.
With that said, many of us have found ourselves forgetting how to socialize, let alone cook for more than one or two people. I’m not exactly the leading expert on socializing, but I can certainly help with the latter.
I broke down my ultimate “How-To Thanksgiving,” so you can spend all your time enjoying, and none of your time stressing. I cover what to focus on, what to keep simple, what to do ahead, and what to do the day of.
A very happy Thanksgiving from all of us!!!!! We are grateful for each and every member of our great big Truffle Shuffle family.
Prep | 1-3 Weeks Before
Whether you’re a chef getting ready for service at a restaurant, a Truffle Shuffler getting your mise en place together before class, or the host of what will surely be the greatest Thanksgiving celebration of all time, the key not to success (because everyone is capable of pulling off crazy stuff under pressure) but to enjoyment lies in the prep. A lack of preparation will leave you stressed and unable to have a good time, or the opposite of what Thanksgiving’s all about!
In the weeks & days before Thanksgiving:
- Write a list of what will go on your table. Turkeys are great, but I believe any bird—like duck, chicken, or guinea hen or squab if you’re feeling particularly adventurous—can feel just as festive and delicious, if not more.
- Staples of my menu include:
- Welcome snacks: keep these simple with dips, make it a fun activity with oysters, or go all out with blinis & caviar.
- No one cares about the salad at Thanksgiving. Keep it simple: fresh greens, something crunchy like roast nuts or croutons, shaved Pecorino or Parmesan, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Done.
- Fresh bread from a local bakery.
SIDES!!!! We rounded up all our favorites in one On-Demand class to raise money for Alameda County Community Food Bank, including:
- Chef Ian’s Turkey Brine with Citrus & Brown Butter Truffle Honey
- Chef Jason’s Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Dijon & Sage
- Chef Tyler’s Whipped Potato Casserole with Farmer’s Cheese, Buttermilk, and Truffles
- Chef Tyler’s Thanksgiving Gravy with Black Truffle & Thyme
Cheese: great to serve before or after the meal, especially with our Brown Butter Truffle Honey. We have some favorites which you can order here, but going to your local cheese shop the week before Thanksgiving is also a great way to go.
Dessert: I like to delegate on this one, but we asked our resident desert person/marketing manager Chef Jeremy (also known as “Young Jeremy” or “jWOW”) and he says you should make the Pumpkin Pie that made him love Pumpkin Pie.
- Ideally look to reserve a local, organic, humanely raised bird. It will taste better and you’ll feel better about eating it.
- I wait until the day before to pick up more delicate produce in person so I can be sure I’m getting what’s most deliciously fresh, but ordering non-perishables or “less perishables,” like flour, butter, cheese, wine, alcohol, etc. will set you up for success.
- Think about your table set up. Questions I ask myself before hosting an event:
- Do I have enough water & wine glasses? Do I need to ask my friend with the car to bring over a couple of chairs?
- (Personal preference) Do I want a tablecloth/runner? Do I need to spend too much time online shopping for Thanksgiving-themed decorations?
- CANDLES!! Candles are a huge (essential!) part of setting a scene—make sure to stock up!
- Clean out your fridge, delegate rooms to clean to your various household members, make things look nice before going to town the day of and completely trashing the place.
- I don’t need to explain to you that good music is super important, but it’s often that thing that gets forgotten until the very last second. Get your playlists in order: one for the dinner, one for the dance party.
Shop & Cook | 1-3 Days Prior
Defrost: if your turkey is frozen, unwrap it a few days prior and put it on a baking sheet in your sink. Transfer it to your fridge at night to finish defrosting while you sleep.
Last minute shopping: grab all those fresh tender herbs, fresh flowers (another essential in my opinion!) and anything you may have forgotten.
Brine your turkey 3 day before (we use Chef Ian’s Turkey Brine with Citrus & Brown Butter Truffle Honey) & return it to the fridge.
Prep your sides & snacks 1 day before: get all your sides out of the way so you can focus on your bird (& cocktail) tomorrow! All of the sides on my ultimate Thanksgiving menu have been chosen for 2 very important reasons:
- They are DELICIOUS.
- They taste just as delicious the next day.
Ready the syrup for your signature cocktail (I'm making an I Appreciate Fuyu).
- Focus on the bird (let it temper for about 45 minutes before roasting!), reheat the sides, make the salad, make yourself a cocktail, decorate your living room, light the candles, and have an amazing Thanksgiving!!!!!