Step two: Write your menu.
Whether using recipes from Fresh Fork, your favorite family recipes or a combination of both, it's really important to write out the whole menu. Include the list of ingredients for each item-- this will help you make a shopping list later on.
Are any of your guests bringing items for the dinner? If so, make sure they have ingredients and the recipe, and if you don't have it make sure to get a copy. Also check in with how much of it they'll be preparing at home versus in your space.
Step three: Make a list of cooking surfaces and oven spaces.
Do you have counter prep space and adequate oven space? If not, adjust your menu to suit what you have. Don't forget about that handy counter-top toaster oven you have down in the basement!
One important thing to keep in mind is that the turkey can come out of the oven hours before dinner and be wrapped tightly in foil. It will keep warm for a very long time and before carving, it can be re-warmed quickly in the oven. This makes the oven available for the last few hours before dinner for casseroles, pies, or anything else that needs to be cooked.
Step four: Determine what part of each recipe, or what whole recipe can be done in advance.
Review your recipes to determine what parts of each dish can be made in advance for later assembling.
- Prepare the cauliflower by removing a "florets" from the stalk
- Chop, dice and measure all the ingredients for the stuffing
- Peel the potatoes and store in water
- Roast the sweet potatoes on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Step five: Do you have the cooking tools, cooking dishes and serving platters you need?
Look at your inventory of cooking tools and vessels. Do you have an appropriate pan or the proper tool to do the job? If not, there are lots of sales
out there right now or you can find some new treasures at second-hand stores.
Step six: Who will help you cook and serve?
If you will need extra hands in the kitchen, particularly at serving time, make sure you discuss this with you "team" in advance. Provide them with clear directions. Make sure that each helper has a specific place to work. Make sure they know when to start their part of the process and when to take things to the table. Do not hesitate to assume the role of "the boss." Post instructions with the assigned person's name next to each task.
Quite simply, make sure you have a plan. Don't wait until the big day to pull things together. Remind guests to respect your schedule. Two o'clock is not mid-afternoon or when the game is finished or when kids are ready. Two o'clock means the big hand is on 12 and the little hand is on 2.
- Chef Parker Bosley