It isn’t everyday that we get to enjoy a massive feast with the people we care about the most. So when we do attempt to cook a turkey, gravy and all the other traditional Thanksgiving sides, it’s only natural to want everything to come out perfectly. But that’s easier said than done.
After chatting with Jamie Oliver himself and watching a whole slew of his holiday shows, we rounded up his biggest, most helpful tips on how to make a flawless Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s what we learned:
Planning is everything
“Building a plan from the moment you put food in your mouth to prepping it the day before – that’s everything. You can’t expect to have a great time otherwise. It just takes 10 minutes,” Jamie told us.
You can’t just wing it and expect everything to go smoothly. If you want the meal to be cooked without a hitch, sit down for a few minutes ahead of time to plan out exactly what you’ll be making, how long you’ll need for everything, what you’ll need to buy at the grocery store and how many people you’ll be feeding.
Prep your veggies in advanced
The best thing you can do to help yourself in the chaos of the kitchen is to prep as much as you can in advance. According to Jamie, washing and slicing all the veggies the day before will truly help to cut down the time you spend slaving away over a cutting board.
Use the giblets
They may gross you out, but giblets are the secret ingredient to making a killer gravy. So you’ll want to roast them beside your turkey, right in the same pan. You can then use all the good turkey juice and caramelized flavours in the roasting pan to make a heavenly gravy when the turkey’s done cooking. Just be sure to strain everything out of the gravy before serving it to your guests.
Find out if you have a free-range turkey
Free-range turkeys actually cook faster than standard turkeys because they have more fat than meat. It won’t save you a ton of time, but knowing which kind you have can prevent you from undercooking the standard turkey and overcooking a free-range one.
You can never go wrong with flavoured butter
Add flavour to your butter by mixing it with herbs and spices to help enhance the flavour of whatever you’re making. If you’re worried about a turkey coming out bland, flavoured butter will help to season the turkey without a ton of effort necessary on your end.
Let the bird rest
This may sound crazy, but you absolutely need to let your turkey rest for at least an hour and a half before serving it. The resting process allows all the juices that came out of it to get sucked back in, making it extra moist and extra delicious.
You can buy pre-made dishes, but don’t rely on them
If you’re seriously short on time or feel like things just aren’t turning out as planned, you can always buy pre-made dishes at the grocery store, like stuffing, and then elevate it by adding in little things like nuts and fruit.
“The blessing of Thanksgiving is that even the non-cooks cook. But ultimately, a homemade Thanksgiving is the best, and it’s hard to fake it,” Jamie said.
So you don’t want to just buy pre-made food and serve it as is – it won’t taste nearly as good as homemade food. But you can buy basic side dishes and improve them with other ingredients if need be.
And if you haven’t started prepping anything yet, don’t worry! You still have quite a few days left to prepare for Thanksgiving.
Want to see more of Jamie Oliver? You can catch Jamie’s Quick & Easy Food every Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.