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Thanksgiving Primer III October 22, 2010

I like the number three- everything seems to come in trifectas!

Thanksgiving is no exception- where the First Part is guests/menu, the Second Part is sketching out what needs to be done and asking for help, and the third part is:

Actually doing it.

The week before Thanksgiving is such a rush! 

And yes, I mean running around; but I also and mostly mean the FUN of it all. 

 I love having a solid gameplan for the days leading up to Thanksgiving Thursday, and executing against the plan. 

When not only are my food recipes ready to go, but I’m ready to go too.

You can learn all of my secrets by attending the Thanksgiving Crash Course!  Check it out HERE and HERE, and sign up!

It’s all about:

  • A la the big Santa Claus— I made my list, now I’m checking it twice.  (Before I go to the grocery store!)
  • A la Jack Sparrow— enjoying the treasure hunt that is grocery shopping.
  • A la Frosty the Snowman— Thawing out (and brining) the Turkey.  No- the rule “Better late than Never” does NOT apply in this situation!  It will need 4 days!
  • A la June Cleaver— Getting the table- and the house- ready.  Don’t forget to clean the guest bathroom too.
  • Cook anything I can – in advance!

Like…. Potatoes

Don’t think you need to wait to peel, boil, and mash those potatoes while your guests are in the living room drinking wine and watching football. 

You can be doing that too!  Just make them on Wednesday before Thanksgiving…. using my Grandma Spaniol’s trusty recipe:

**** Warning Warning**** THANKSGIVING IS A “NO CALORIE COUNTING ZONE” AT MY HOUSE.  You have been warned.


  • 1 – 5lb bag of Baking Potatoes
    • Peel the potatoes. 
    • Put them in a large Dutch oven or Stock pot and cover them with cool tap water… starting this way ensures the potatoes will cook evenly! 
    • Bring to a boil (for about 40-45 minutes, test for doneness with a fork)
    • Drain (I use the potato water, once cooled, to water my houseplants!)
    • Put in a greased 9 x 13 pan (that has a cover)
    • Mash them (I recommend either using a potato ricer for a very smooth result, or a hand masher, after having added the below ingredients, for a more textured result.  Don’t use a hand mixer!  It introduces too much air and may make the texture like paste.)

Mash into the Potatoes:

  • 1 stick of room temperature, or softened, unsalted butter
  •  1- 8oz block of cream cheese or Neufchatel lower fat cream cheese, at room temperature or softened
  • 1 cup of sour cream (I use Light Daisy as it has no added ingredients!)
  • 1 tsp Onion salt
  • 1.5 tsp white pepper, or black pepper if you don’t mind the appearance
  • 1 tsp Seasoning salt
  • 1 tsp Salt (to taste)

You can refrigerate these potatoes (for a couple of days if necessary) until Thanksgiving day.

I typically let the turkey cook all by itself in the oven until it is done.  I remove it from the oven and set aside some of the cooking juices, to make gravy later. 

Cover it with the roasting pan cover, blanket the roaster with a couple of large beach towels, and let the turkey rest for at least 20, and up to 45, minutes.  This allows the turkey to absorb yummy juices back into the meat, and to slowly come to a good “carving” temperature.

As soon as the turkey is out of the oven, I put all of the side dishes that need to be warmed (including the potatoes) into the oven at 350 degrees for 30-60 minutes

I recruit my mom to make pan gravy on the stovetop, as she does it way better than me.

As all of this is coming together, I get my master carver into the kitchen to carve the bird at 20-40 minutes after the turkey has emerged from the oven. 

The last hour before eating is crucial, but with this game plan all of Thanksgiving bounty is on the table, hot, at the same time!

“The bird has landed”!!


2 Responses to “Thanksgiving Primer III”

  1. […] Thanksgiving Primer III « Jen the Catalyst Says: October 22, 2010 at 9:18 am […]

  2. […] Stay tuned for Part III… Doing it! […]

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