Need a last minute timeline for Thanksgiving Dinner… In a perfect world, I would be perfectly prepped and perfectly organized, well ahead of Thanksgiving. Then I woke up to my reality… Have you ever pulled that off? Not me. In my world, life gets crazy in the time leading up to Thanksgiving, and at best I go shopping on the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving scrambling for all my ingredients! I’m usually pretty good at finding everything except for oysters in the jar which sale out fast, days heading up to Thanksgiving. But, I know all my grocery people and I call them just a day ahead to order stuff that goes fast! That my confession for this year, lol!
But you know what? It doesn’t matter. In fact, don’t stress over getting all that work done ahead. Shop Tuesday night (which I did) or Wednesday morning and have a no-sweat Thanksgiving dinner ready on Thursday afternoon. This timeline shows you the way.
The Last-Minute Plan
This plan assumes you just don’t have time to pull things together until Wednesday morning. Many of us have the day before Thanksgiving off entirely, or at least half of the day. Go shopping — yes, brave the crowds! It’s an experience! Reward yourself with Sangria or Mulled Wine. Shh, same thing but ones cold and ones hot! Yum!
Wednesday: 9:00am to 10:00am: Brine Turkey ( I don’t brine my turkey but if you do or you can dry brine with seasoning. I buy my fresh (no-thawing) Turkey from Trader Joe’s).
Wednesday: 11:00am to 12pm: Mac and Cheese (cook and reheat on Thursday).
Wednesday : 1:00pm to 2:00pm: Cornbread Oyster Stuffing( prep and cook but don’t add the oysters until Thursday right before it goes into the oven to be completely cooked).
Wednesday: 2:00pm to 4:oopm : Greens (prep and cook, then reheat on Thursday)
Wednesday: 2:30 to 3:00pm: Sweet Potatoes (prep and cook and reheat on Thursday)
Wednesday: 3:00pm to 3:30pm: Cranberry Sauce (prep and cook and reheat on Thursday)
Wednesday: 4:00 to 5:00pm: Sangria (a day mulling in the refrigerator makes it taste so much better).
Wednesday: 5:00pm to 6:00pm: Dessert
Wednesday: 6:00pm to 6:30pm: Set Table
Thursday: Thanksgiving Day & Crank Music
Thursday: 9:00am-9:30am: Make a Quiche with seasonal fruit for pre-thanksgiving brunch.
Thursday: 11:00am: Roast Turkey (thawed turkey 13 minutes/lbs).
Thursday: 1:00pm: Set out cheese platter and assorted fruits.
Thursday: 2:30pm: Deep Fry Turkey (which only takes 1 hour to cook, recipe below).
Thursday: 2:30pm: Heat: Stuffing, Mashed potatoes, Yams, Ham
Thursday: 3:00pm: Sangria Time
Thursday: 3:45pm: Heat Monkey Bread
Thursday: 4:00pm: Crave Turkey and Ham
Thursday: 4:15pm: Time to Grub
Ali in the Valley
Cajun Deep Fried Turkey
Inspired by Emeril Lagasse
Author: Alison Ball
For the Marinade
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon liquid Zatarainís Concentrated Crab & Shrimp Boil optional
1/4 cup apple cider
3/4 cup honey
One 12-ounce beer
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1/2 cup Original Essence
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Pinch ground cloves
For the Seasoning Mix
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
A few things to note before proceeding. First we call for injecting the marinade into the turkeys with a large kitchen syringe, or “Cajun Injector.” After the turkeys are injected, they are rubbed down with a dry seasoning mix, sealed in bags, and left to marinate in the refrigerator for 12 - 24 hours. You'll need to deep fry your turkey(s) outdoors using a propane burner, propane tank and a heavy 40- to 60-quart pot fitted with a metal basket. Be sure to place newspapers or cardboard around the cooking area to protect everything from hot splattering oil during the cooking process.
Arm yourself with 2 long-handled BBQ forks and a broom handle to lift the turkey out of the oil, as well as heavy, insulated pot holders and an internal instant-read thermometer to gauge the cooking time. And keep the kids and pets away from the cooking area!
TO FRY: 2 turkeys (8 - 10 pounds each), either fresh or completely defrosted if frozen, rinsed and patted dry, neck and giblets removed from the cavity and reserved for other uses about 10 gallons peanut oil
Place the turkeys on a flat work surface.
Make the marinade by combining all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender, and process for 5 minutes. Fill a Cajun Injector (or a large syringe) with the marinade and inject each turkey in the breast and thigh area as well as the back, wings and legs. You will need to fill the syringe several times.
Combine the seasoning ingredients and rub the mixture evenly over each turkey. Place the turkeys in large plastic bags and secure tightly before refrigerating for 24 hours.
To fry each turkey, fill the cooking pot three-quarters of the way full with the peanut oil and heat the oil to between 350 and 360 degrees F. Place one turkey in the basket insert and carefully and slowly lower it into the hot oil. Turn the turkey every 10 minutes, using long-handled forks. A whole turkey will take approximately 3 - 5 minutes per pound to cook. It is done when the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
Carefully lift the basket out of the hot oil. This can be done by inserting a broomstick through the handles and having two strong people lift the basket out of the pot. Using the long-handled forks, transfer the turkey to a large brown paper bag to drain, and let stand for 20 minutes before carving.
Repeat the procedure for the second turkey.
Turkey Frozen Thawing Methods:
Recommended: Thawing in the Refrigerator Leave the bird in its original wrapping and place it on a tray in the refrigerator. Allow 5 hours per pound or 3-4 days for a 14-19 pound turkey to defrost.
“Quick” Thawing: Place turkey in its original wrapping in sink and cover with COLD water. Change the water every 1/2 hour to maintain the temperature. Allow 1/2 hour per pound to defrost the turkey. Most turkeys will take from 5 to 10 hours to thaw.
Microwave Thawing: NOT RECOMMENDED Microwave ovens do not heat evenly, and they also heat quicker along the bone. Microwave thawing of a turkey is generally not recommended.
Turkey Thawing Time in the Refrigerator (40 degrees F): Approximately 24 hours per 5 poundsWhole Turkey WeightThawing Time8 to 12 lbs1 to 2 days12 to 16 lbs2 to 3 days16 to 20 lbs3 to 4 days20 to 24 lbs4 to 5 days
Turkey Thawing Time in Cold Water: Approximately 30 minutes per pound. Change water every 1/2 hour.Whole Turkey WeightThawing Time8 to 12 lbs4 to 6 hours12 to 16 lbs6 to 8 hours16 to 20 lbs8 to 10 hours20 to 24 lbs