10. Nescos are Great
Did you know that you can buy a Nesco or Hamilton Beach table-top oven for about $30-50? And that it can cook a whole large turkey? Or anything else, up to a temp of 450 degrees? That frees your whole oven up for other stuff!
9. Pre-Make Stuff
Next time, we’re going to have the mashed-potato stuffed oranges and stuffing done the day before. Trying to cook nine things at once is a pain in the ass, and leads to neglected guests.
8. Stockpile Miranda Cubes
With a big, silicone ice cube tray, you can make Mirandacubes packed with cinnamon sticks, cranberries, anise, mint, etc. And with a few days of diligent pre-party ice making, you can have all that stuff done ahead of time. Estimate two Mirandacubes per guest; it doesn’t seem like much, but each cube is good for a couple drinks.
7. House Cocktails Work…
Thanks to the touching generosity (seriously) of a friend of ours in the restaurant industry, we found ourselves in possession of seven bottles of flavored vodka. By making up a couple house cocktails (the Cornucopia, the Musket Barrel, the Nutty Pilgrim) we were able to cash two of those bottles in a productive manner and entertain our guests. If you set up a list of two or three house cocktails, people know what to order, and you know what to mix.
6. As Does Doubledecker Pecan/Apple Pie
It’s so easy to make a pecan pie under your apple pie that you wouldn’t believe it. Lots of bang for the buck.
5. Get Your Guests to Bring Things Wrapped in Puff Pastry
Noah brought mini turkey Wellingtons; Alvey brought Australian sausage rolls. Both were freakin’ delicious.
4. Amuse Bouches
We took… two small cubes of mango… one fresh mint leaf… and a bit of mango balsamic vinegar. The combination: Delicious. Easy to make, easy to pass around.
3. “Heritage” Doesn’t Mean “Tastier”
It does, however, mean more expensive. Our $80, 16-pound heritage turkey didn’t seem to have a whit more flavor than the typical $15-20 Butterball, much to our surprise and disappointment. It was also more dry than we would’ve liked, but I chalk that up to my own under-vigilant checking of temperature.
2. Check the Damn Turkey Temperature
Even if you estimate it’ll take you 5 hours to cook a turkey, check the temperature 2 hours in.
1. Don’t Sweat the Clean Up
You will make an enormous, enormous mess. The cleanup will be a two-hour party unto itself. Have some drinks, rock it out, and you’ll be shocked at how much cleaner your whole kitchen / dining area actually is after you’re all through. A good dinner party is a cathartic experience for both a house and its occupants alike.