Space-Saving Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
While some of our readers may have the advantage of double ovens, over-sized ranges, large islands, and other luxuries found in large kitchens equipped with the latest and greatest in culinary technology, we know that many of you are working with a more standard kitchen — a single oven, a four-burner stove top, and minimal counter space.
Trust us, we know how quickly that space can get used up.
If you’re planning a big Thanksgiving meal for a large group (or any meal, for that matter), we want to help solve the small space issue with a few simple tips.
- Make ahead. You want to save as much prep space as possible for the big day, so plan ahead and consider which items can be prepped or cooked in advance. For instance, if you’re planning to have pumpkin pie for dessert, make it the day before and let it chill in the fridge overnight. Once everything for the main course has come out of the oven, you can pop the pie into the oven to re-warm it — or just serve it cold!
- Consolidate prep work. One of the most common mistakes new home cooks make in the kitchen is using too many containers, utensils, etc. during the preparation of a meal. This can create more dirty dishes — and a bigger mess to clean up after the fact. Think through what you’re making and find ways to reuse the same dishes during the preparation. For instance, if you’re making macaroni and cheese, you can drain the noodles and then toss them back into the cooking pot to stir in butter and cheese before transferring the mixture into a baking dish. Working on a salad? Keep your serving bowl nearby and toss ingredients in as you chop them to maintain ample workspace on your cutting board, rather than using a separate prep bowl.
- Enlist slow-cookers and multi-cookers. When working strategically to save room in the oven and on the stove top, slow-cookers and multi-cookers can be a game-changer in your Thanksgiving Day routine. Taking up a small amount of space on a countertop, a slow-cooker can be used for sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, mulled cider, cinnamon apples, green beans — the list goes on. A quick online search will leave you with more ideas than you’ll be able to count!
- Keep it simple. Especially if it’s your first time cooking a meal for a crowd, the pressure to deliver a truly memorable meal can be high. But keep in mind that a simple, stress-free meal can do more to create fond memories than one with 10 courses served by a frazzled host. A carefully curated menu will allow you to put your best effort into the dishes you do choose to make, as well as minimize the space needed to prepare the meal. If you’re struggling to narrow down your favorites, simply choose an appetizer, three sides, and a dessert. It can really be as simple as that!
- Smoke the turkey in your USSC Wood Pellet Grill. This is the biggest space-saver on our list! While the turkey is the most necessary part of the meal, it’s also the largest — and therefore takes up the most space and time. Roasting your turkey in the oven not only takes up precious room in the oven but also dictates the oven temperature — meaning you may not be able to use the oven for anything else at all.
By taking the turkey outside and throwing it on the smoker, you’ll free up the oven for cornbread dressing, browned and bubbly macaroni and cheese, and more. To save time, purchase a pre-brined turkey and smoke for 30 minutes per pound at 225°F, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.