Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Day To Be Thankful – The Best Laid Plans

After many, many conversations in the past month, 2 hard days of preparation, which included tearing up the house so the carpets could be cleaned, Thanksgiving day finally arrived and we were ready. We prepped as much in advance as we could and as a result didn't have near as much to do that day as normal.

Being my normal anal self, I made a pretty detailed plan in hopes of not forgetting anything. This is the final version after a few revisions as we went through Tue. & Wed. As you can see by the L’s, most of them were mine because Bev had the big job of getting the house ready, plus she helped out on several of mine.

Monday – Go to store

Tuesday – Make turkey brine-L, make salad dressings-L, wine into fridge-L, make some virgin cranberry cocktails (to find one we like)-L, dry the bread for stuffing cubes-L, make turkey glaze-L.

Wednesday – Prep turkey and into brine-L, boil giblets-L, slice up pork chops-L, prep potatoes-B, feed & make bread-B, steam sprouts-B, set up salad/ drink table-L, make broccoli casserole-B, make up stuffing and pork chop dish-L, make dressing-L, prep smoker-L, make cranberry salsa - L

Thursday – set out cream cheese and butter for taters, make margaritas & salt-L, fry bacon-L, prep turkey veggies-L, make cranberry cocktail – L, set dining tables-B, blow off front porch-L, finish house-B, make rolls-B

07:30 – Turkey out of brine and rinse
10:30 – Turkey out of fridge
11:00 – Preheat oven to 300*
11:30 – Turkey into oven,
01:00 – Cook & mash potatoes, make gravy, start smoker to 300*
01:30 – Bev get ready
02:00 - Casserole, chops, & dressing out of fridge, flip, uncover, baste turkey
02:30 - Larry clean up (I'm fast and can wait until the last minute)
03:00 – Guests due to arrive
03:00 – Casserole, chops, dressing, and sweet potatoes into smoker
03:45 – Turkey out of oven, rolls in, spouts into butter/lemon/garlic
04:00 – Eat salad then carve turkey, heat gravy
04:15 – Set up buffet

The plan was working perfectly until 1:30 when I noticed the smoker wasn’t coming up to temperature very fast, so I opened the fire box door and it quickly went past where I wanted it, so I closed the fire box door and assumed all was well. When I went out to put the food in at 2pm, it was 50* low again and so I opened the firebox door again and it quickly went back up. After a couple of iterations of this, I finally noticed the air inlet valve was closed – operator error #1.  With all of this going on, I also forgot to uncover the dressing so it could brown - plus it wasn't on the plan.

I had a probe thermometer in the turkey and at 3pm, it registered 165*, and I took it out – 45 minutes early – damn. So I covered it with a couple of thick towels knowing it would stay hot until carving time. When I uncovered it at 4:15 and prepared to remove the leg, I noticed it wasn’t very loose, so I probed it with another device and it was 15* short of done in the thigh – damn. So I jacked the oven up to 400*, covered the breast with foil and stuck it back in the oven, let it cook another 20 minutes or so and decided too eat it wherever it was temp wise.

If I’d only been dealing with one of the issues, I likely would have caught things much sooner, but with two of them at the same time and guests to see to, I didn’t do too well. One bad thing about having a plan is it gets stressful when the plan falls apart. Fortunately, we all enjoyed visiting after the salad course while the turkey cooked.

Tune in tomorrow to see how it all turned out.  I notice some recent additions to the follower list - welcome.



  1. Just think if you hadn't been that organized!

    Hey, I read your email, I'll be responding, sounds good!

  2. Total organization. I'm not that organized this morning, so hope everything goes smoothly. My turkey comes out of the brine in approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes. This is my first year to brine, so I'm anxious for the fantastic results. :-)

  3. Somehow, no matter how organized I try to be, something usually goes wrong, but dinner always turns out OK and everyone is happy. I have to say, Larry, that you write one heck of a good plan despite the turkey temperature.

  4. Wow Larry, you wore me out LOL!! Love that last minute "Larry Clean Up" too! ;) It's true though - you really have to have a plan of sorts at least a basic one anyway, when cooking a big meal like Thanksgiving for a crowd. Update your plan and save it for next year. You'll be surprised how keeping that year to year helps. Sure sounds like one mighty fine meal despite the turkey and smoker issues.

    How'd you like PW's brine? I do a very basic one, and one that I don't even cook that seems to work fine, but I wonder if adding in all of the additional things really makes a difference or not. Is your cranberry salsa up here? I can't recall if I've seen it before.

  5. Larry, Despite all of the travails and tribulations that you (and Bev) experienced, Thanksgiving Dinner was a winner! The turkey was super moist and flavorful, the stuffing was good, the mashed potatoes (receipe please!) were excellent and Bev's yeast rolls were the best ever! Many thanks from Laurie & myself. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  6. Whoa! What a plan. I have a bulletin board on my prep backsplash and when I make a company meal I make a timetable, but your plan is great! Very well thought out. Sounds like your guests had a delicious dinner!

  7. No wonder we get along so well, we are two peas in a pod. I schedule ours out like that too. It hasn't gotten so bad that I write gantt charts yet but I do do them in spreadsheets so I don't over tax resources or equipment.

    The part I liked the best is scheduling in the "me time" to get ready. I try to do that too.


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