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marcus samuelsson

Thanksgiving is unquestionably my favorite holiday and I’ll give you one guess why. Give up? It’s a holiday all about food and family, what I enjoy in life the most.

It’s a spiritual occasion, one of those rare days when almost everyone in the country is doing the exact same thing, sitting down at the dinner table to break bread with loved ones and simply say “Thanks”.

I know it can be stressful with all the shopping, cooking and figuring out where everyone is going to sleep after a long day of gorging.

Honestly, all you need for a fun, relaxing Thanksgiving is some good planning and a couple of tips to help make the day a breeze.

MAKE THE SIDES & DESSERTS A DAY EARLY: Certain dishes like collard greens, stuffing and pumpkin pie will hold up in the fridge overnight so don’t wear yourself out trying to make everything the same day.

LET THE KIDS HELP: Whether it’s nieces, nephews, grandkids or your own, many of us have little sous chefs at our disposal but never take advantage of it.

My mormor (Swedish for “maternal grandmother”) always made us help in the kitchen, whether it was mashing potatoes, shaping meatballs or making gingersnaps.

You’ll get some of the smaller tasks off your plate and the kids will be super proud of their contribution. Just make sure they wash their hands before and after, especially when handling meats.

MAKE IT A POTLUCK: Don’t be afraid to ask guests to contribute to the dinner by bringing a side or dessert. We all come from different cultures and traditions, and food is a fun & delicious way of learning more about one another.

THE TURKEY: The right temperature is the key to a moist turkey, so invest in a meat thermometer and get it to read 165°F when inserted into the thigh. Don’t fuss with a big bird, instead buy something in the 10-12 pound range. And don’t forget to let it rest before carving, so the juices can distribute evenly throughout the bird.

FRYING YOUR BIRD: If you’re short on time and have a deep fryer, try frying a whole turkey. You’ll not only save time during the cooking process, but the prep time as well since you won’t need to brine. Make certain not to marinade or inject the turkey with liquids, because that can be hazardous when frying.

SAVE THE DRIPPINGS: Be sure to reserve the turkey drippings from the roasting pan to pour over the stuffing. It’s also perfect for roasting carrots and other veggies.

DON’T TAKE THE DAY TOO SERIOUSLY: Remember, your guests are there to spend time with you and the perfect meal won’t compare to time spent with you.

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