My good friend, Mary Ann, has cooked Thanksgiving dinner for her family since she was a young bride. Mary Ann is a home economist and has been a professional food stylist for many years. In addition to preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, she also creates a beautiful tablescape. Who better to share tips from her years of experience?
Mary Ann’s most important tip for a stress-free day is to prepare as much of the meal as possible in advance. She makes and freezes her dressing and other casseroles ahead of time and then bakes on Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to move them from the freezer to the refrigerator about 48 hours before cooking. Heat casseroles in microwave, add any toppings and finish in the oven. If using the microwave, Mary Ann suggests using oval or round baking dishes.
Mary Ann prefers a fresh turkey over a frozen one. She seasons the cavity and under the skin with seasoned salt and then puts onion quarters, lemon slices, carrot pieces, fresh thyme and rosemary in the cavity. Then she butters the outside of the turkey and covers it with a butter-soaked cheesecloth. Do not cover turkey with lid or foil. She makes sure to put the turkey in early enough to have time to bake her casseroles.
Mary Ann makes a traditional pumpkin pie for dessert, but sprinkles the unbaked crust with a praline mixture of brown sugar, butter and pecans and then bakes for about 5 minutes at 400 degrees. When the crust is ready, she adds the pie filling and bakes as directed in the recipe.