THANKSGIVING SPOTLIGHT

To pull off the perfect Thanksgiving feast, you need a plan. We are spotlighting Williams-Sonoma’s tips to pull off a flawless holiday with these basic how-to’s, planning tools, and simple holiday recipes. You can find all these guides and the tools needed to execute them flawlessly at Williams-Sonoma.com or come in to Destin Commons and have the expert’s in-store help you to achieve a successful holiday dinner.

EASIEST FEAST EVER


If you’re pressed for time this Thanksgiving but still want to serve your guests a memorable meal, try this menu that focuses on the basics, simply yet elegantly prepared. Anyone can pull off this simple, delicious Thanksgiving feast.

In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and salt and sauté until the onion is softened and beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened and fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute longer.

Add the water, squash, apples and nutmeg. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Transfer the soup, in batches if necessary, to a blender and carefully puree until smooth; return to the pot and reheat if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each serving with about 1 Tbs. yogurt and 1 tsp. pumpkin seeds. Serve hot. Serves 6.

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain the beans and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain again, place in a bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the half-and-half, seasoning mix and mushroom packet and bring to a boil. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Pour over the green beans and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a 13-by-9-inch (33-by-23-cm) baking dish or large gratin and sprinkle the fried onion topping evenly over the top.

Bake until the edges are bubbling, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes with salted water to cover, cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Drain well. Return the potatoes to the pan and stir over medium-low heat for 2 minutes to evaporate the excess moisture.

Press the warm potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl. Cut the butter into slices and scatter over the potatoes. Whisk in the butter and enough of the milk to give the potatoes the texture you like. (Or, if you don’t have a ricer, beat the potatoes in the pot with a handheld mixer on high speed. Add the butter and continue beating on high speed, adding milk as needed to create the desired texture. Be careful not to overbeat the potatoes.)

Mix in the chives and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and serve at once with additional butter, if desired. Serves 6.

No Thanksgiving feast is complete without rich, creamy gravy, and it’s a snap to prepare with our turkey gravy base—just add milk, simmer and serve. This is a real time-saver (and stress-saver) when you’re trying to get all the other dishes to come together at the last minute. The base also comes in handy if you brine your bird, as the drippings may be too salty to make gravy; if you fry it, drippings will be nonexistent.

Directions: In a saucepan or pot over medium-high heat, combine the turkey gravy base and milk. Whisk until the gravy comes to a simmer. Add stock, pan drippings or sherry, to taste. Serve warm. Makes 1 quart.

Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Drizzle the turkey with olive oil, spreading it all over to coat the skin, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Tuck the wings behind the back. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Truss the legs with kitchen twine, if desired. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C).

Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325°F (165°C). Continue roasting, brushing the turkey with the melted butter and any juices that have accumulated in the pan every 30 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165°F (74°C) and into the thigh registers 175°F (80°C), 2 to 3 hours more.

Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Serves 12 to 14.

Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).

In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Add the pumpkin, eggs, cream and milk and whisk to combine.

Pour the filling into the prebaked piecrust and bake until the center is set, 60 to 65 minutes, covering the edges of the crust with aluminum foil or a piecrust shield after 30 minutes if they brown too quickly.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 hours, before serving. Serves 10.

SETTING THE TABLE



More than any other holiday, Thanksgiving is celebrated with a bountiful table. By assembling the right balance of elements, any table can be made festive and beautiful. We don’t have any scientific proof, but we are convinced that a beautifully set table makes the food taste even better. A tablescape is the very first thing guests see before they sit down to eat, and it’s a good way to set the tone for your entire meal. In this age of Pinterest, every brunch or dinner party is an opportunity to design a gorgeous table for guests to dine upon. With that in mind, we are counting down our top 5 tips for an absolutely stunning tablescape to make your guests say ‘wow’.

1. Find Your Inspiration
You can find inspiration all around you. For something as simple as your favorite flower to a current fashion trend, anything can inspire a unique tablescape that your guests will love. When setting a Thankgiving table, we like to embrace a rustic, natural design that evokes a bountiful fall harvest. That means lots of wood, fresh linens, and lush greenery instead of colorful flowers. Just remember: A beautiful table is like any other work of art, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

2. Curate a Dish Collection
Dishes are one of our favorite things to spotlight when setting a table. Aside from your everyday dinnerware, it’s fun to have statement serving pieces that you can wow your guests with. We love Williams-Sonoma’s Botanical Pumpkins Dinnerware Set, especially when paired with their Staub Cast-Iron Pumpkin Cocotte for serving. If you’re on a budget, white plates and simple wood serving boards are always in style. It’s easy to take these classic items and customize them with a variety of florals, candles, and other elements.

3. Keep Your Centerpieces Short (or Very Tall!)
One of the most common mistakes that event hosts make is having a centerpiece that is right at eye level. Of course you want everyone to be able to enjoy your beautiful floral arrangement, but you also want your guests to be able to socialize with one another. There’s nothing worse than having your guests remove the centerpiece from the table because they’re tired of craning their neck all night while trying to have a conversation with the person across of them. With this in mind, keep your centerpieces short enough to see over or high enough that guests can see across the arrangement while seated.

4. Let There Be Light
You can’t go wrong having a few candles burning at your table. Flickering candlelight makes for a refined and intimate atmosphere. But be sure to burn only non-scented candles at a dinner party. Scented candles can interfere with the flavors of your food when you are trying to eat. Battery-operated tea lights are always a great option too, if you don’t want open flame at your table. When they are inside of a votive, you won’t even be able to tell that the flame isn’t real.

5. Use Place Cards as Decor
Using place cards is a great way to create a seating arrangement and strategically seat your guests next to people you think they would get along with. It’s also a great opportunity to add another interesting design element to your table. Instead of typical folding cards, consider writing guests’ names on stones, leaves, or really anything else you can think of. Thinking outside of the box is highly recommended here.

THANKSGIVING PREP TIMELINES



Natasha Gandhi-Rue, Williams-Sonoma culinary expert and French Culinary Institute graduate has spotlighted her expert tips for ensuring you are ready to go for your Thanksgiving Dinner Party. Besides being the mastermind behind Williams-Sonoma’s in-store technique and cooking classes, Natasha has hosted many a holiday dinner for friends and family — and she has her timeline down to a science.

“I think it’s fair to say I’ve become a pro at preparing the Thanksgiving dinner, both from hosting the holiday for the last decade as well as my part in our Thanksgiving technique classes for the last seven years. When my family’s Thanksgiving feast accrued more than 15 adults, I knew I had to use my culinary expertise to plan this holiday like a general approaching a battle, or perhaps more fitting, like a restaurant chef approaching a Saturday night dinner crowd!”

Here are my plan-ahead tips that make this special Thursday completely stress-free in my house:

WEEK OF THANKSGIVING

 

  • Clean house. I hate to say it, but sadly it has to be done! If you’re lucky, you’ve splurged and scheduled a cleaning service to come early this week and take care of the task.
  • Take out all your dishes. Begin to run your dishes and wine glasses through the dishwasher. When they come out, I set them on linen dish cloths or flour sack cloths (something that won’t leave lint) and then place another towel over them.
  • Pull out your cookware. That means your roasting pan, carving board, carving knife (make sure its sharp!), and any specialty pieces of cookware you do not use daily. Have them washed and ready for cooking.
  • Write your whole menu down on paper with notes. Note if a guest is bringing something, what drinks you are serving, etc.
  • Copy recipes. If you need to refer to recipes, make photocopies of them so your originals stay clean.
  • Create a grocery list. I like to organize mine by categories: produce, dairy, meats, bakery and more. I know the layout of my grocery store well, so I list my categories according to how I walk the store. You won’t believe the time this saves you; you’ll never go back to meandering down aisles!
  • Set up a schedule. I create a spreadsheet for my menu based on timing. This way I know what is going in the oven, what’s being reheated and even when to set the bread machine for fresh bread.

TUESDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING

 

  • Do your grocery shopping. When you get home, organize the groceries in your fridge.
  • Make your brine. If you’re brining your turkey, you need to make your brine early enough so it can chill completely before you immerse your turkey.
  • Remove all your frozen prep items and place in the refrigerator. This includes pie crusts, turkey stock and gravy.
  • Chill wine. Place the wine you’re serving in the refrigerator, or if you’re out of room and live somewhere cold, in the garage or on the back deck.

DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING

This is the day I try to request off from work, because it’s my big prep day. If you have to work, order pizza for dinner that night and start chopping!

  • Chop and dice your ingredients. Have lots of airtight bags available for holding all your diced veggies. Don’t forget your chopped herbs for garnishes. Most herbs may be placed in airtight containers lined with a damp paper towel in the refrigerator.
  • Sauté stuffing ingredients. I cook the celery, onions, sausage, etc., and once cooled, I place the combination in a labeled airtight bag in the refrigerator. The next day it only takes me a few minutes to put my stuffing together and into the oven for baking.
  • Finish making your pies. I use my homemade, previously frozen pie crusts.
  • Prepare any vegetables or side dishes you can. I have a beautiful assortment of serving pieces that can go straight from the fridge into the oven, so I prep and place dishes in the serving piece, wrap tightly in foil, label and store in the refrigerator.
  • Set up the buffet table. I leave nothing to chance or to the judgment of my husband, so I place post-it notes with what food goes in what serving piece. Yes, the gravy boat has a post it that says “gravy” on it!
  • Set the dining table. My last task is setting my table complete with floral arrangement, candles, and whatever else I have envisioned this year. This is my favorite task and a nice way to wind down the day. It’s usually done after dinner, while enjoying a glass of wine that helps me get a much needed good night of sleep before ovens are preheated, pots of water begin to boil, and our celebration begins!

Don’t let Thanksgiving dinner become a stressful event. Preparing yourself ahead of time will be the key to a simple, successful night. Want more inspiration? Check out our Pinterest page, “For the Home” for more recipes, décor, and all things beautiful for your home.

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