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How to plan ahead for the best Thanksgiving ever

ThanksgivingMeal-tall-1It’s Turkey Time again! And that means a home filled with delicious smells and smiles, family and friends gathering together around a beautiful feast, and making memories for years to come. I fondly remember my mother getting up early on Thanksgiving morning to stuff the turkey, rubbing it with butter and herbs, and then slow-roasting and basting it for several hours while fending off my brothers and I as we tried to steal little piece without her noticing. (Although we now highly recommend, for food safety, that the stuffing be prepared outside of the bird, and put inside a cooked turkey right before serving.)

Serving up the best from your Market
My mother is a fantastic cook, and I’m always amazed and grateful when I think back to the holiday meals she lovingly prepared for us. Planning ahead helps create those kinds of moments for your special dinner. That’s where your Market Kitchen shines. Visit us for all of your Thanksgiving needs. Your Market Chefs have all of the traditional sides you and your family love, including Turkey Gravy, Mashed Potatoes with Herb Butter, Maple Bourbon Sweet Potatoes with Pecans, Green Beans with Hazelnuts and Shallots, Bread Puddings, Cranberry Sauce and so many other treats. You just have to see for yourself. From a little help to cooking the whole shebang, we’ve got you covered. We even have oven-ready turkeys rubbed with butter, lemon and sage, ready to roast at your convenience!

Divvy up the tasks among your guests
If you’re cooking the big meal yourself, divide the tasks up among your guests, asking for specific dishes. We have some favorites in my family, such as my wife’s Smoked Trout or Salmon Pate (see recipe below). Her talented mother provides sides or dessert, and her father chooses the cheese and wine. We always enjoy appetizers an hour before dinner. Good food takes time. A rushed cook leads to big mistakes, so take it slow.

Developing new traditions
I like to take charge of the main course, as you might have guessed. Whether it is turkey, ham, prime rib, salmon or game, I always start with recipes I know well. Now is not the time to start experimenting on your family and friends with an obscure French recipe for roasted pigeon, which might or might not translate to your much larger needs. And besides, those pigeons are hard to catch! I love simple recipes for the holidays, that can become traditions in future years, such as a Lemon-Sage Butter for rubbing and basting the turkey. (See my blog post from Thanksgiving of 2012 for recipes and more tips.) Or a generous salt and garlic rub for prime rib. Stick to only one or two new ideas for the entire menu, and you will sail through with flying colors.

Tips for cooking the main meal
A few tips for cooking meats, and just about everything else for that matter: You should have a good meat or kitchen thermometer to achieve the best results and insert the probe into the deepest part of the roast, checking multiple spots repeatedly to avoid overcooking. Remove a large roast/turkey from the oven a few degrees under optimum or desired temperature, and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. Carryover heat will bring it to the proper temp, and the juices will relax and redistribute throughout the meat.

Ellen’s Smoked Trout or Salmon Pate

½ lb smoked trout or smoked salmon, bones removed, or 4 oz lox salmon
8 oz cream cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 T fresh dill, chopped
1 T capers, drained (optional)
2-3 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper Salt to taste, approx. ½ tsp
1 T chives or green onion, minced

Add salmon or trout to processor and pulse to a coarse paste. Add remaining ingredients, except chives, and combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired, adding more lemon juice or salt as needed. Stir in chives or green onions. Serve with cucumber slices, crackers and bread.

Enjoy the time with your friends, family and everyone else, this season. And as always, eat and live well!