Thanksgiving is nigh! If that statement has you already planning your recipes, then this article probably isn’t for you.
Although, if you’re the accident-prone type of person capable of roasting your turkey and your entire kitchen, too — then you should probably keep reading.
And if the only planning you’ve done for hosting your holiday party is that you’re planning on hosting one — then here’s your guide to getting your act together.
One thing, however, isn’t belated this year — Hanukkah. The Observer wishes you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukah!
Tips on preparing ahead of time
Purchase approximately 1.5 pounds of bird per person. If you’re hosting a large party, it’s easier to accommodate two smaller birds than one large one.
Don’t forget to defrost the turkey! It takes 24 hours per every five pounds of bird. If you’re out of time, consider purchasing a fresh turkey.
Plan time accordingly. It takes 20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees to roast. It should cool for a half-hour before you carve it.
If you’re stuffing your bird, cook it until the center of the stuffing and thigh reach 165 degrees.
Do all your prep work the night before — chop the vegetables and pre-measure ingredients. If you can, prepare any bread, pie and cranberry sauce the night before. Mashed potatoes can be prepared the day before and warmed beginning the morning of in a slow cooker.
Always have extra aluminum foil and chicken or vegetable stock on hand.
What if your turkey is …
Still frozen — thaw it in a cold-water bath, replacing the water every 30 minutes, or roast it in pieces.
Late going in the oven — cut into the legs and wings and remove the breast meat from the bone and roast it on a baking sheet.
Not cooking — wrap the bird in aluminum foil and turn the temperature up to 450 degrees and cook for three minutes per pound of bird.
Done too early — keep it in a warm place under a tent of aluminum foil.
Starts to burn — flip the turkey on its back and continue cooking. Remove any burned skin prior to carving.
*For all other turkey emergencies, call Butterball’s expert help line: 1-800-Butterball (available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thanksgiving Day).
If your gravy is greasy — stick it in the freezer until the fat solidifies, then scoop it off.
If your gravy is lumpy — strain it or puree it in the blender.
If your gravy is too thin — make an equal part soft butter and flower paste and add it little by little into the saucepan, bringing it to a boil after each addition.
Learning from past mistakes
Thankfully, some of our readers shared their own Thanksgiving disaster stories to keep you from doing the same thing. If you are the type to learn the hard way, please submit this year’s stories to email@example.com.
“I was a new bride hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner. I cooked a lovely bird on the outside and then started to slice. I found a plastic bag with the neck and giblets inside! It spoiled everyone’s appetite, and I was totally embarrassed.” Sandra Hanan
“I forgot to remove the wax paper dividers out of the frozen pie crust. I realized when we cut into the pumpkin pie, that there was wax paper lining between our filling and crust.” Diane Ragsdale
“My first Thanksgiving in a new home I cut veggies, added stock, made cornbread for stuffing, stuffed the turkey and put it in the oven. Then I pushed over the oven lock button to clean oven and couldn’t open it for four hours. But the turkey came out fine!” Jackie Salvino
“The first time I made Thanksgiving dinner for me and my former boyfriend, I got his grandmother’s mac ’n’ cheese recipe — his all-time favorite. I spent all afternoon whipping up all of the yummy dishes, including this mac ’n’ cheese dish. To my joy, he loved the mac ’n’ cheese. Well, that is, until he began coughing, turning red and breaking out in hives. Who knew he was allergic to Colby Jack cheese?” Sarah Wilson
“I don’t have any Thanksgiving disaster stories; I always had it catered. I did bring my live pet turkey Tom as a guest to Thanksgiving dinner at our house in 2009.” Nanci Rand
“I had never made a turkey and didn’t realize that it takes so long to cook, so I was just starting to take it out of the refrigerator about one hour before people were to arrive. Thankfully, my visiting cousin did miracle things to that turkey — oven, microwave, oven, microwave — and it was only an hour late being ready. There were lots of hors d’oeuvres that Thanksgiving!” Carolyn Michel
“My cousin Joe Lowenstein made the most gorgeous dinner one Thanksgiving: roast goose with all the trimmings roasted to a crisp. He took it out of the oven to cool and enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with the guests … Upon returning to the kitchen to serve up the bird, he was startled to find a pile of bones. In their stead, was Princess, the cat, purring quite contentedly.” Ellen Berman
“I tripped over the dog’s dish while carrying the sweet potato casserole to the table. That was one of my kids’ favorite dishes and it went all over the carpet!” Candy Wood
“Our turkey came out looking really bad, so we scrapped it and just ate sides. The next morning, we took it back to the store and they pointed out that it was fine, we had just cooked it upside down.” Crystal Rothhaar
“I went to Thanksgiving at a friend’s aunt’s home once who was smoking a ham with the plastic wrap still on it. She had also forgotten to defrost the turkey so she just doubled the heat of her oven. The sweet potato casserole was good, the rest, not so much!” Peter Acker
“My first turkey exploded in the oven. No kidding, it looked like shag carpeting all over in the oven. My second turkey burst into flames. The first time I made gravy, my guests thought it was sweet potatoes. Now, I provide the cocktails — and they are perfect.” Laura Coyle
Everywhere is not closed!
The dreaded “Everything is closed on Thanksgiving Day” woe is turned on its head. Here are a few places to pick up ingredients in case you mess up a side dish or forget to pick up that important ingredient.
Winn Dixie locations are open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sweetbay locations are open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Whole Foods is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
So you burned your turkey, dropped the side dish or are ready to throw in the towel. Don’t sweat it! Here are some restaurants that are open or offer Thanksgiving dinner to-go and other services. All you have to remember is to call ahead or make a reservation!
-15 South Ristorante, 15 South Blvd. of the Presidents, Sarasota, 388-1555
Turkey special, 4:30 to 10:30 p.m., $17.95 per person
-Bijou Café, 1287 First St., Sarasota, 266-8111
Pommes gratin dauphinois service — bring your casserole dish and Bijou Café will fill for you to finish in your oven at home.
-Blu Que Island Grill, 149 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key, 346-0738
11 a.m. to 10 p.m., all you can eat lobster, $45; and smoked-turkey special, $25
-Café Gabbiano, 5104 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-1423
Traditional menu in addition to a holiday dinner, open 5 to 10 p.m.
-Café L’Europe, 431 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota, 388-4415
Thanksgiving dinner, $36.95 per person, open noon to 8 p.m.
Holiday dinner to-go specials must be ordered Friday, Nov. 22 (call Mara Routh in catering, 388-4415, Ext. 4).
-Darwin’s on 4th, 1525 Fourth St., Sarasota, 343-2165
Open 5 to 10 p.m. with special turkey, pumpkin and fall-inspired menu items
-Duval’s New World Café, 1435 Main St., Sarasota, 312-4001
Thanksgiving buffet, $34.95 adults, $15.95 children, noon to 6:30 p.m.
-Euphemia Haye, 5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, 383-3633
Roast goose special $43.25; roast duck special $37.50; and sliced turkey special $36.50. Restaurant open noon to 9 p.m., and the Loft Lounge open 2 to 10 p.m.
Thanksgiving to-go menu, must order by Monday, Nov. 25
-Harry’s Continental Kitchens, 525 St. Judes Drive, Longboat Key, 383-0777
Thanksgiving to-go menu available if ordered by Sunday, Nov. 24, with pickup Wednesday, Nov. 27; visit HarrysKitchen.com.
Three-course dinner, $31.95 per person, open 2 to 8 p.m.
-Kacey’s Seafood & More, 4904 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, 378-3644
Traditional Thanksgiving dinner $13.99 per person, open noon to 7:30 p.m.
-Lazy Lobster of Longboat Key, 5350 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, 383-0040
-Lazy Lobster of Sarasota, 7602 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota
Traditional turkey dinner, $18.99 per person, open 1 to 8:30 p.m. (offered at both locations)
-Libby’s Café + Bar, 1917 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasta, 487-7300
Thanksgiving menu, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., $32 adult; $12 children age 10 and under
Offers doggie bags, so guests can have next-day leftovers
-Louies Modern, 1289 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, 552-9688
Thanksgiving Farm to Table to Fork, noon to 9 p.m., $30 per person
-Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, 760 Broadway St., Longboat Key, 383-2391
Traditional turkey and ham dinner, $14.99 adults, $6.99 children, open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
-Mattison’s City Grille, 1 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota, 330-0440
Dine-in Thanksgiving feast, $28 adults, $14 children, 11 a.m. to close
-Mattison’s Forty-One and Catering, 7275 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota 921-3400
Thanksgiving feast to-go, orders must be placed by Sunday, Nov. 24
-Michael’s On East, 1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota, 366-0007
Traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner, 2 to 8 p.m., $28.95 per person
-Polo Grill & Bar, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch, 782-0899
Thanksgiving Day buffet, noon to 5 p.m.
-Roessler’s, 2033 Vamo Way, Sarasota, 966-5688
Regular menu with holiday specials, open 1 to 7:30 p.m.
-Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 6700 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 924-9442
Traditional three-course turkey dinner, $36.95, open noon to 8:30 p.m
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