There's only so much turkey a man can take.
iReporter, Grilling.com writer and Smoke in Da Eye competition BBQ chronicler and team member Clint Cantwell found himself having to gobble down waaayyyy too much of the bird. After roasting, deep-frying and smoking three different turkeys for Thanksgiving last year, he needed a bit of a palate cleanser. Naturally, he swung swine-ward.
Cantwell crafted a pig entirely out of pork as a Thanksgiving appetizer. "Pork E. Pigskin," as he was dubbed, had hot links for legs, a sausage body, ham ears, Vienna sausage nose, a pork rind tail and a bacon wrap.
With Thanksgiving approaching, you've still got a tad of time on your side. Use it to wrangle your guest list into place (leaving room for a few day-of tag-alongs), stock up, and keep from getting your feathers all ruffled in a last-second scramble for plates, drinks, turkey and places to sit.
If you've got a rough idea of how many meat-eating guests will be on hand, go with around one pound per person - one and a half if you'd like to ensure a stash of leftovers. A huge bird can be comically unwieldy, so consider sacrificing the Big Platter Presentation for the sake of sanity and back strain. Opt for two (or three or more if you have the oven space) smaller birds - and just remember to make sure you've got enough roasting pans, foil and other poultry paraphernalia on hand.
We've long maintained that the very best thing about Thanksgiving is the side dishes, and smack dab in the middle of November, you can't do much better than vegetables. Nope - not just canned green beans en casserole (though that's seriously delicious and we'll delve into that soon), frozen creamed pearl onions (again...mmmm...) or corn pudding. We're talking fresh and in season, because that's the very best way to eat.
In addition to our in-depth guides on roasted broccoli, butternut squash, other varieties of fall squash and all the pumpkin you can shake a spatula at, here are a few quick, killer vegetable dishes you can feel excellent about heaping high on your plate.
Something is going to go amiss this Thanksgiving. A side dish will burn, you'll be short a chair for an unannounced guest, your aunt will question all of your life choices in front of an assembly of your loved ones; it could be one of a million little (or large) mishaps. The world will not screech to a to a gravy-spattering halt. We promise.
Over the next few weeks, we'll help you prepare and gird your loins as best we can, with our own time-tested hosting tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities, hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Thanksgiving with a confident smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on the other side with your sanity intact.
The big meal is nigh on upon us and ya know what? You'll get through it. No matter what happens, in a few hours it'll all be a memory and ideally, you'll have a few luscious leftovers and warm, fuzzy feelings toward mankind.
We're here to get you through to the other side. Just submit your questions in the comments or hit us on Twitter @eatocracy and we'll get you an answer as soon as you possibly can. Your queries may be culinary - or even just a plea for solidarity and moral support.
Pull up a chair - we'll be serving up support in this here post all the way through T-Day.
High & Dry
Baste that baby, foil it up - not a tent, but swaddle the whole bird, and put the oven on a low setting – around 200°F. It should remain moist and delicious for your guests and if that doesn't work, there's always gravy.
Going Cold Turkey
That's not a safe option if you're stuffing it at home. Give the bird a bath in cold water, changed out every 30 minutes or, if your microwave is commodious enough, zap it with the defrost setting. With either method, you'll need to get it into the oven as soon as it's un-thawed. Just distract the guests with charades or appetizers until it's ready. Read more about safe, speedy thawing - and good luck!
So – this is happening, whether you're ready or not. Ya know what? You'll be fine - no matter if you're hosting 30+ guests or are just expected to show up with a half-slurped can of Four Loko and deal with the whims and expectations of a potentially harried host.
Here's why: you're not alone. Not only are millions of people across the United States encountering the same stresses (and delights) - you've got Eatocracy on your side. We'll be at the ready, starting Wednesday afternoon through Thursday, via comments or on Twitter @eatocracy to offer culinary triage (zOMG! The turkey is still frozen and the gravy skinned over!), hosting wreck-checks (No, seriously, it's TOTALLY FINE if two people show up with Jell-O pretzel salad. And there's a gentle way to keep Uncle Merv from telling his room-clearing jokes. Everyone will emerge unscathed.) and just plain ol' sanity, solidarity and a few good jokes.
We've got plenty of fun surprises planned, but in the meantime, consider printing out these mantras and cross-stitching them on throw pillows or possibly taking them to the tattoo parlor:
Over the next four days – including yes, the very day of – we'll be sharing our time-tested hosting tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities (that's always fun, right?), hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Thanksgiving with a confident smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on the other side with your sanity intact.
Charts! Facts! Figures!
These things won't assure that the dog will refrain from jumping up and switching off the oven or that Cousin Jimmy isn't going to show up with a gaggle of brand new friends he woke up with this morning but they surely can't hurt.
Today - buying, borrowing and battening down the hatches.
Over the next seven days – including yes, the very day of – we'll be sharing our time-tested hosting tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities (that's always fun, right?), hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Thanksgiving with a confident smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on the other side with your sanity intact.
Bless your heart, you've pulled app duty. It's often a thankless task, as you're essentially running defense for kitchen, so peckish guests don't pick away at the corn pudding and green bean casserole before the turkey is served. It also calls for a thick-ish skin, as many folks will feel the need to loudly state that they're ONLY deigning to nibble so they won't, you know, STARVE before the REAL meal is served.
Their loss. You're going to be serving up major flavor in bitty bites and those folks who decide to hold out for the big feast will be kicking themselves once they hear the rave reviews.
A few of our favorites:
Over the next nine days – including yes, the very day of – we'll be sharing our time-tested hosting tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities (that's always fun, right?), hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Thanksgiving with a confident smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on the other side with your sanity intact.
There’s a bicycle built for two; two for tea (and tea for two); and everyone knows it takes two to tango – so what about a Thanksgiving feast for two?
CNN.com writer Lisa Respers France recently submitted this Turkey Day quandary to Eatocracy:
If anything, we are not afraid to be servicey - especially in the ever-dwindling days leading up to the big feast.
Point blank: you are not responsible for whipping up cranberry chutney for ten if there are only two of you this year. You can have your turkey and roast it too, without skimping on the fixings and gobbling up refrigerator space. Here’s how: