Thanksgiving Day is also game day and I want to help you with a winning tailgate feast! After all, this holiday is all about being thankful with family, food, and football! However, it should not be a stressful event. Many people spend so much time preparing their feast, they barely partake in the fun. So, when it comes to your tailgate this year, here are 5 things to consider to keep your party easy, tasty, and safe!
- Think and thaw: Turkeys take a long time to thaw…like days! Think in advance and get that turkey thawing today and thaw it in the refrigerator! Do not put a turkey on the counter as you are asking for food borne illness. Look how much your turkey weighs and use the Internet to see how long it should thaw and get going. Nothing is worse than a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving morning so, think and thaw in advance!
- Prep in advance: Cooking can be quite the task so prep what you can in advance so your morning is less stressful. Put your pies together the night before, refrigerate, and then cook in the morning. Or if you are making cornbread dressing, make the cornbread the night before, chop the veggies, and hard-boil the eggs so in the morning you are just sautéing and baking.
- Bite size is better: Typically, at Thanksgiving we think of platters of food with beautiful serving spoons. However, unless you want the biggest mess ever, try to keep your foods bite size where people can grab one or two. Mini turkey meat loaves and bite size desserts are great ways to accomplish this.
- Have a colorful feast: Turkey, dressing, gravy, rolls, and pumpkin have one thing in common, they are all the same color! Get away from the yellow-tan color of Thanksgiving and add some flavor with a big green salad and a colorful veggie platter of yellow squash, red tomatoes, green zucchini, and garnish dishes with beautiful, naturally sweet pomegranate arils, etc. It will add some life to your spread while also dressing it with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- 4-hour rule: Though Thanksgiving is about socializing over food, don’t leave the food out for hours, refrigerate, reheat, and then sit out again! No. No. No. The 4-Hour Rule with meat, dairy, and creamy dishes, is that it should not sit out at room temperature for longer than 4 hours total. When these particular foods sit out for long periods of time, they are more likely to develop bacteria and thus cause food borne illness. So put the food out and eat, then refrigerate as soon as you can, and don’t leave it sitting out again. In context of a football game, if it sat out the whole game and then some, it probably needs to go. One way to prevent this is to put cold things on ice and keep warm things warm with hot plates or sterno. Keep your Thanksgiving safe with watching the clock!