Time for Turkey Math

By Buttermilk Clouds

This is a serious math, folks, but not yet taught in our educational system. (Do I need to start a movement?) All women and men that orchestrate a holiday dinner need to be fluent in turkey math. Some know it instinctively and use it without being aware of this ability. Others simply flounder and know that something is wrong when they and their hungry family are waiting two hours for the last dish to be brought out of the oven and the mashed potatoes have turned into a chilled mass.

So, what is it exactly? This is a timetable for preparation of a holiday dinner from expected time to eat backwards to the beginning of preparation. The turkey is the cornerstone which we build this timetable.

To do turkey math, a couple of things must be in place.
You need a solid menu...set in stone. Meaning, no "corn or baked squash casserole". It either has to be one or the other or both. No choice at the last minute.You have to know the weight of your turkey for cooking time.The time you want to sit down for dinner.With that information in hand, you are ready to do turkey math. I will demonstrate how it works.

Menu (this happens to be our menu for this out well for me, now my turkey math is taken care of):
DressingCreamy Mashed PotatoesGravyButternut Squash Puree
Broccoli and Rice CasseroleCranberry SauceWatergate SaladChocolate PiePumpkin PieThe turkey weighs 14 pounds. It will have to bake @ 325 for 4 hours since it will be stuffed. We want to eat at 5:00. (hmmm...this is starting to sound an awful lot like high school algebra.) A turkey out of the oven should sit awhile to let it rest before carving. This works into my master plan.

Here is the turkey math action plan.

A week before:
Make the menuMake a shopping listGrocery shop for your holiday ingredientsDo turkey math
Three days before:

Remove turkey from freezer and place in refrigerator (thawing time: 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey)
Two days before:

Make and freeze 2 pie crusts
The day before:

Make and refrigerate - Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Make and refrigerate - Butternut Squash Puree
Make and refrigerate - Watergate saladPeel, chop and saute onions for dressing - refrigerate
Set bread out to dry
The night before:

Put turkey in brineThe day of:

9:00 Make pumpkin pie and bake9:30 Make chocolate pie and bake10:00 pies should be out of oven and cooling10:00-11:00 take a break11:00 Make dressing11:30 Stuff turkey11:45 Put turkey in oven12:00 Set the table12:30 Clean up the kitchen1:00-2:30 have a glass of wine...nap...ponder the meaning of life
2:30 Remove casseroles from refrigerator to come to room temp
3:00 Assemble broccoli and rice casserole
3:45 Remove turkey and keep covered
3:45 Put all the casseroles in oven4:15 Make gravy4:30 Carve turkey4:45 Remove casseroles from oven4:45-4:59 Put all the yummy food on the table
5:00 Eat!!Good luck, all you little turkey mathematicians!

By Buttermilk Clouds

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