Carol Kaufmann

Writer, Editor, Wine Merchant

Mama Tricks: My Path to an Easy Thanksgiving November 18, 2011

Filed under: Mama Tricks — carolkaufmann @ 8:05 pm
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If all else fails, we'll be here--at the restaurant at the end of the block.

A new friend recently was panicking over making and hosting her first Thanksgiving dinner. The guest list included her future in-laws from the culinary capital of the U.S.—New Orleans, plus five others. D (dinner) -day was a mere seven days away, she had no plan and looked a bit flustered.

Having been in her position, I told her: “Megan, don’t panic. Help is here.”

1. Have every guest bring their favorite beverage. Assign one or two a
dessert or app; you can’t have too many of either.

2. When they arrive, have a pitcher of Sazeracs waiting. It is the official
cocktail of New Orleans, looks all autumn-y and has a real kick. In this
wonderful essay, there is a recipe

3. Have a few open bottles of wine, too, and your reds already opened in the
kitchen, taking a good deep breath. Everyone says buy Pinot Noirs and
Sauvignon Blancs to serve with turkey. I think that’s nuts, but am kind of
opinionated in this genre. I’d suggest Cotes-du-Rhones–almost any of them
would work and are crowdpleasers, and any white from the Veneto region of
Italy. Soaves would be good. I think easy-sippers should be the goal here.

4. Make a few things the day before. Suggestions:
Very easy stuffing
Easy savory green beans that can be made in advance

My personal favorite – super easy bourbon balls (to be served right before pie, when no one is
expecting them)

BUY —do no make—really good bread.

Get all your salad ingredients sorted and semi-assembled (except for
dressing. That would be gross).

5. Really, the only things you need to do on Turkey day is the turkey and
potatoes. The trick to the turkey is simply having enough time to cook, and slightly cool, the bird. HEre’s the secret: Read directions. And have lots of butter on hand.

May I suggest baked potatoes? (OR baked sweet potatoes)? Easy. Put
in oven at 350 for an hour (or in a pinch, put in microwave for 10 minutes
and toast for about 5 to get skins crispy). Have sour cream/butter/chopped
chives OR melted butter and brown sugar in bowls to serve with.

6. If you have to have another app, cut up veggies, get a block of cream
cheese (softened), scoop in some pesto, and garnish with sundried tomatoes.
Put in pretty dish. Appears and tastes fancy and takes 3.4 seconds to

7. Votives. Lots of votives and dim lights slightly. Have Harry Connick, Jr.
playing softly in the background.

8. Remember, it’s more interesting visually if you mix and match dishes and
linens. Don’t worry about finding NINE identical place settings.

9. Serve more wine.

10. Serve more wine to yourself.

Unlike many of my fellow Southern mamas, I’m not the most adept cook. But JUST like many of them, I do know how to fake it!

Best of luck to all the new “cooks” out there!