I am a planner. I spent 30 years planning and executing engineering projects, and I look at Thanksgiving dinner as a project with tight deadlines. I have everything planned pretty carefully for resources (oven space, stove space, refrigerator space, ingredients) and schedule. We are only having a total of six people for dinner, and I was looking forward to a pretty relaxed preparation. The menu was smoked turkey, a good Amana pre-cooked ham, sage/cornbread dressing, gravy, mashed sweet potatoes with syrup and pecans, cranberry sauce, a cherry/pineapple/cool whip/condensed milk salad known in our family as “pink stuff”, plus lots of pies – two pumpkin and one each apple and pecan pies. Friends are bringing a cranberry salad and another vegetable dish.
Monday: Smoke Turkey
Tuesday: Bake cornbread for dressing. Roast pecans for pies and sweet potatoes. Unrelated to Thanksgiving, smoke a big piece of salmon we bought on Monday morning. Make smoked turkey broth for the dressing with the remainder frozen for later.
Wednesday: Make the dressing, cranberry sauce, four pies, and put together the pink stuff salad.
Thursday: Cook (small) ham, rolls, gravy, dressing, and sweet potatoes. Enjoy friends arriving at noon with dinner planned for 1:00. See how easy?
Well, that lasted until Monday afternoon when Kevin discovered the main burner on the smoker had burned out! Of course, this was after the turkey had been in a 110-120 degree smoker for four hours (the heater for the wood chips was still working). It certainly would not be safe to eat so it went into the trash. Search the entire city for a replacement burner, but they have to be mail ordered – not available before late Wednesday. Off to Costco Monday afternoon for a new fresh turkey only to find them sold out! Way too late for a frozen turkey, so we were at their door as they opened today to pick up a turkey they had delivered last night. Now I have to cook a 18 pound turkey (the smallest they had) on Thursday in addition to doing the ham, sweet potatoes, and rolls plus cooking the dressing. I will have to plan everything pretty carefully since I only have one big oven plus one (relatively big) toaster oven. The poor salmon is getting baked this evening since it won’t be any good by Friday when the replacement burner element will be installed in the smoker.
Sigh. I might have to push dinner back some because of how much time the turkey will take. I am even thinking of the sacrilege of making the turkey on Wednesday using an oven bag, and then just reheating it in the microwave on Thursday. I will report back, with pictures.