Yesterday's lesson on cooking Thanksgiving dinner has really inspired me. Chef Linda, our guide through the Thanksgiving dinner tour, gave us lots of wonderful suggestions.
We learned about brining a turkey. You wouldn't believe how tasty it makes a bird! I'm going to do a test turkey next week just to be sure. You can even brine a frozen turkey and let it defrost in the solution.
After cooking the turkey, put it on the serving platter and place it in a very clean cooler or thermal carry-all (no ice, of course). The turkey will keep very warm safely for up to 2 hours. During that time you can reheat all of the dishes that you made the day before.
Do the prep work for the casseroles and side dishes ahead of time. Premeasure the ingredients and put them in ziplock bags. You can even put all of the ingredients in the dish you will cook it in and store in the fridge. That way, when you are ready to make the sweet potato casserole, everything you need is waiting for you.
Use disposable aluminum pans whenever feasible. That'll make clean up that much easier.
The reason that we don't eat the stuffing from a stuffed bird isn't because we are being much more careful than our grandparents. It used to be that all of the butchery was done by hand. But because of the repetitive motion, butchers often developed carpal tunnel syndrom. Now robots do all of the butchery...and without the finesse of a human butcher. Where the human butcher would carefully miss the intestines, the robot very often cuts right through. When the bird is cooked, the stuffing is still way below 165 degrees...which means it is just swimming with bacteria. When Chef Linda explained it all this way, it made me realize just how important it is to pass on the stuffing from inside the bird.