Are you away from home for Thanksgiving for the first time? A great way to make sure you aren’t missing out is to host your own Friendsgiving.
We walk you through everything you need to know to host your friends for the festive, delicious holiday.
Picking a Turkey
First a little math (we promise this won’t get too complicated). When hosting a group –the most important factor to master are the ratios. For starters: 1:1:1. That's one person, one pound of turkey, and one cup of stuffing.
If you want leftovers – and who doesn't? – you should aim for 1.5-2 pounds of turkey per person. Having 8-10 guests? A 15-pound turkey will do nicely. That gives you enough for tasty leftovers like turkey-cranberry sauce croissants, turkey pot pie, and some silky turkey curry with peas.
Most turkeys you buy will be solidly frozen, so you have to thaw them before roasting. If you defrost in the refrigerator, you need to allow enough time for the bird to soften completely. The ratio here is 24:5, or a full day for five pounds. A 20-pound turkey, then, takes about four days to thaw. Another defrosting option is to immerse the wrapped bird in cold water and leave it on the counter, changing the water every 30 minutes, a 20-pounder takes about 10 hours to defrost.
After the turkey thaws, reach into the body and grab the sack of giblets. Discard these or, if you're an advanced (read: brave) cook, save the liver, heart, and neck bones for your pan gravy. Don’t cook the bird with these still inside, as it can make you sick. Then wash the turkey inside and out. Dry it gently with paper towels.
Season the skin with some salt and pepper. You can also coat the exterior with some butter. Make a spice rub if you like, or buy a ready-made one. To make it extra delicious, you can also stuff the turkey with cloves of garlic, herbs like rosemary and sage, and halved citrus such as lemons and oranges (squeeze some of the juice over the skin first). We hear what you're thinking: What about the actual stuffing? Just a sec.
Roasting and Carving
In a roasting pan, lay the turkey breast-side up and tie the legs with twine. Pin the wings close to the torso so that they don't extend as they cook. Cooks argue about which side is best to begin roasting a bird, but if you place it breast down to begin, you'll have to flip it over for the last hour of roasting to achieve that all-over golden effect. For a first-timer, that might be traumatizing.
Cook time is 20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Create a tent out of aluminum foil and place it over the pan for the first couple of hours. Baste with the pan juices or broth about once per hour. Remove the foil for the last hour so the skin can turn brown and crisp.
Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving. If you handle it too soon, the meat will shred. Plus, you want it cool enough to touch.
Stuffing and Side Dishes
For a Friendsgiving, divvy up the side dishes and ask each person to bring something: Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, a salad, a good bread. Someone with dietary restrictions or allergies could make the stuffing so that it's accessible for everyone.
Sure, it's gourd season, but that doesn't mean you have to use an overflowing cornucopia as a centerpiece. Any fresh flowers, potted plant, or even a simple bowl of apples will have the same effect. And if you don't have enough table settings, or want to bother with too many decorations, invest instead in some sturdy paper plates that can stand up to cranberry sauce and gravy.
Throwing a Friendsgiving is about celebrating each other and your relationships as much as it is about cooking and eating. That kind of hospitality is enough to cheer up any room.
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