Sunday, November 9, 2014

Timing for a perfect Dinner Party

It’s great to have great recipes for a dinner party, but one of the hardest things about cooking a large meal with multiple courses is keeping the timing right. You want your main course done at the same time as your side dishes. You want your appetizers done in time to sit down with your guests seamlessly before your main course.

I always find with a large meal like Thanksgiving

that my timing is thrown off by starting to cook early in the day. I get the turkey in the oven and then I never know when to put on the other dishes. Usually the turkey goes on in the morning and then you have hours before the next course is ready to cook. So this year I spent a little time researching each course of my dinner menu. I used the timer on my IPad to set alarms for every dish in my dinner menu. It took a little time to subtract the cooking time from the serving time for each dish. My menu read as follows
Dinner to be served at 6:00 pm

Homemade Roasted Tomato & Curry Soup- The soup was premade the day before Reheat timer 5:45 pm
Herb Roasted Turkey – I used the cooking time calculator at Butterball.com to calculate my turkey’s cook time. Just enter the turkey’s weight and particulars i.e.: stuffed or unstuffed, thawed or frozen.  I also added resting time and carving into the calculation. This gave me a timer for 1:00 pm which was my oven ready time for my turkey. With a timer also set for 5:15 (take turkey out time and allow to rest) 5:45 pm time to carve the turkey.
Stuffing - I served my turkey unstuffed so I needed to calculate the time to start cooking the stuffing (does not include prep time) which turned out to be 5:00. The nice thing about the iPad/iPhone timer is that you can label each of the timers, so when they ring you know what they are for.
Baked Yams – Bake time 2 hours to be started at 4:00. I actually started my yams for this dinner at 5:00 allowing one hour but they were very uncooked, so I allowed and extra hour, as they can always be removed from the oven early.
Mashed Potatoes – Cook time 30 minutes, and 15 minutes to mash. Timer Set 5:15 cook time and 5:45 Mash timer.
Gravy to be made between 5:45 and 6:00 pm
Yorkshire pudding – Heat oven to 450 degrees when the turkey comes out. 5:30 to heat the pan and add the batter when the pan is smoking hot. Turn the heat down to 350 timer set for 5:45 for ten minutes. Turn heat off at 5:55
Roast Brussel sprouts and carrots with bacon: Timer set for 5:00 pm Ready at 6:00
Baby Peas: I used frozen peas Set timer for 5:50 pm
Pumpkin and Apple Pie: Ready the day before

I set my table the day before and I did most of my prep the day before too. This took care of many of the dishes. I found that everything was ready at exactly the same time. It was amazing. I miscalculated the baking time for my foil wrapped yams and also for my brussel sprouts and carrots. I adjusted the time for next year. The only thing that will change next year is the turkey cooking time. The timers helped to keep me from worrying about the meal. I knew that everything to be served would be ready at the right time.

This was one of the most relaxing meal preparations I have ever done. I did not forget anything, which happens often when you have a big menu. Just make sure your timer sound is something relaxing. I had candles in the kitchen too, just to set the mood. The candles also help to stop you from crying when you cut up onions. I hope this helps you to enjoy a perfect Dinner Party. 

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