The actual bird
To brine or not to brine. Or maybe a dry brine?
Invert bird, then turn it over halfway to maximize juiciness.
There are so many different, and sometimes conflicting, ideas on the best way to roast that Tom. Here are my quick thoughts:
- I would gently recommend that a fresh turkey is generally better than a frozen, if you can swing it. No judgment if you can’t, I’m just sayin’. Sometimes you have to order the fresh birds in advance, so if you haven’t done that already, you better get cracking.
- I’m not going to say deep fried turkey doesn’t have its charms. But if you are trying to watch your weight and come away from this meal not feeling like a Thanksgiving Day parade balloon, deep fried may not be the best way to go.
- I don’t need to repeat the advice on giving your Tom plenty of time to defrost in the fridge, do I?
Or no bird
You know, you really don’t have to do a turkey. You can make ham, beef tenderloin, chicken or other poultry, or any other roast beast that may be easier to make than a turkey. At past Thanksgivings we’ve done a combo of turkey (usually just the breast) with grilled pork tenderloin, or one year, smoked brisket. Here are a couple of light recipes for gobbler substitutes that still give off a festive holiday vibe:
Some sides on the side
- For crying out loud, you do NOT need to peel the potatoes for mashed first. You’ll save time, and add extra nutrition, if you leave the peels on. Want fluffy potatoes? Use a russet type. Want creamy potatoes? Use a waxy type. To cut down on fat in this dish that normally screams for too much dairy, try using chicken stock instead of cream, and load up on fresh herbs for extra flavor.
- There are so, so many different ways to do dressing, or stuffing (I usually do a cornbread dressing). I’m sure you’ve heard the safety warnings that accompany stuffing the bird. I don’t think it’s worth the hassle, to be honest. Just put your dressing in a separate baking dish and call it a day.
- You need some veggies, people. Green beans and Brussels sprouts are certainly traditional, and corn, beets, the ever-trendy kale and squash also taste great on the Thanksgiving table.
I like rolls at Thanksgiving. My husband doesn’t; takes up too much valuable stomach real estate that could otherwise be filled with turkey, he says. Nevertheless, they are common on this holiday. Here are some ideas for easy ways to make bread or rolls happen:
- Want to bake something homemade that’s relatively easy and light? I recently found this really simple recipe for focaccia using pizza dough.
- Or, what about biscuits? They go with everything. Try fridge or freezer biscuits.
- Even easier? Let this be one of the things you buy. I’ll bet your local bakery makes awesome rolls, or there are some really awesome basic store-bought rolls.
I saw a poll in a recent food magazine that confirmed pumpkin is the most popular Thanksgiving pie, followed by apple; pecan made the list, too. Growing up we always had pumpkin pie, and while I do love it, sometimes it’s fun to have something different. Here are some awesome recipes for health-conscious pumpkin pie alternatives using low-calorie sweeteners:
What’s your poison?
Serving booze? Sparkling wines like champagne are comparatively light on calories, but are certainly festive for a holiday event. Light beers are also good and should satisfy the football-watchers of the day. But you also need to ensure you have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks on hand for non-drinkers or designated drivers. Coffee and/or tea with low calorie sweeteners are de rigueur; my holiday isn’t complete without Diet Cokes.
Here are some light recipes for non-alcoholic holiday beverages that use low-calorie sweeteners:
Turkey photo courtesy of Don McCullough and used under Creative Commons
Pie photo courtesy of TheCulinaryGeek and used under Creative Commons