We've all heard the horror stories - beautifully browned turkey still frozen in the middle,
gravy that tastes like wallpaper paste and cat paws in the pumpkin pie. For
someone who's never done it before, hosting Thanksgiving dinner can inspire
nightmares. But it doesn't have to be a stressful event.
Marjorie Ohrnstein, Los Angeles-based
chef and owner of Fun Foods Catering, has cooked
Thanksgiving dinner for literally hundreds of people. "The basic elements of a
Thanksgiving dinner are not difficult," she said. "The challenge is bringing all the elements together
and making sure they're ready at the same time." Ohrnstein advises cooks to create a schedule and prepare as much as possible in advance. Her last piece of advice? Don't be afraid to ask for help.
The Internet is a great place to start asking for help. Who knows turkeys better than
the people who sell them? Head to Butterball for detailed instructions on how to prepare a picture perfect turkey. The site also features a "Turkey Talk-Line," a hotline open annually in November and December to answer questions on those "turkey situations," like which pan to use, what to do when the turkey is on fire, and when to start roasting the turkey so it's ready by halftime. At Honeysuckle White, you'll find a turkey buying guide, illustrated carving techniques and a variety of preparation instructions (including roasting, deep frying, and grilling). The National Turkey Federation can help you with thawing, roasting and carving. This helpful chart provides nutrition information for a wide variety of turkey cuts, and be sure to check out the online cookbook.
Epicurious: Thanksgiving features Thanksgiving 101, shows you how to care for the "must-have" Thanksgiving tools, and offers illustrated workshops on cleaning and carving a turkey, making gravy and rolling pie crusts.
Now that you're an expert, get creative with the Thanksgiving theme at recipe-filled site,
What about Ohrnstein's advice to plan ahead and be organized? You'll find just what you need at Global Gourmet Guide's Timetable For a Thanksgiving Dinner. The site tells you, step
by step, when to do what. And don't forget to ask for help. If someone else brings the dinner rolls or the pumpkin pie, your job will be that much easier.
Take last-minute emergencies to the Food Safety Inspection Service's List of Food Safety Questions. We doubt you'll need
them, but better safe than sorry!