Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be stressful or even home cooked

Great local options and online resources can help make your feast easy and enjoyable for all


By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times


Thanksgiving is at least a week away and there are many options so that the host or hostess can enjoy the day as much as the guests.  Not everyone has the need to prepare an elaborate feast, serving a large turkey, tons of side dishes and desserts. Of course there are the obligatory traditional dishes that everyone craves, so make them.  But in fact, simple is better these days for many families. 


Here are some suggestions for making the day pleasant for everyone.  First of all, if you are going to serve turkey, make sure to thaw the bird in the refrigerator, not on the counter, for at least three days and remember to remove the bag of innards before cooking.  I failed to do these things in my first Thanksgiving cooking outing and it didn’t go well.


thanksgiving turkey with cranberries

While a well-roasted turkey with beautiful decorations is the traditional picture for Thanksgiving, there are many other ways to prepare for this annual event.

Next, plan ahead. Right now, avian flu has affected turkey producers in the Midwest so don’t wait till the last minute to go get your bird.  Same thing with canned pumpkin, but for different reasons.  Weather problems have resulted in allocations so if pumpkin pie is a must-have part of the dinner make sure to go get your supply now.


A whole roasted turkey can be a big deal to prepare.  Perhaps a roasted turkey breast will satisfy guests.  Boneless turkey breasts can be prepared in less than an hour.  Smothered in gravy, they will deliver the same delicious flavor with much less work.  If you are not inclined to make pie dough etc. for a pumpkin pie, do what my mother does and bake a crustless pumpkin “pie” in a lasagna pan and top with canned whipped cream.


Then there are the non-traditional options for Thanksgiving dinner.  Try cubing sweet potatoes and roasting them with olive oil and rosemary instead of the ultra-sweet traditional preparation.  And brussel sprouts are totally under-rated.  These too can be cut in half, drizzled in olive oil and roasted with herbs for a delicious side dish to replace green bean casserole.


If you really don’t feel like cooking, more and more local places will provide pre-prepared meals as take out.  But the deadline for ordering these is looming.  Most of the places I spoke to said that their ordering deadline is this week.  Here is a selection of those options:


Wegmans (Downingtown or Concordville):  Wegmans offers several options for different size meals including a pre-cooked turkey, side dishes including mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry and orange relish and pies.  Prices range from $89 – to $135.  Their arrangement is “first come, first serve” and when supplies are exhausted that’s it. Concordville:  100, Applied Card Way(484) 785-9900; Downingtown: 1056 E. Lancaster Avenue; Downingtown.


Country Butcher (145 S. Walnut Street, Kennett Square, 610-444-5980) – Dan is offering 2 sizes of pre-cooked turkeys accompanied by stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy and cranberry sauce along with pumpkin or apple cranberry pie.  Prices range from $175-$225 and orders must be placed by 11/20.


Talula’s Table (102 West State Street, Kennett Square 610-444-8255) – Pre-cooked whole or carved birds can be ordered with an array of customizable side dishes and desserts.  One can order from their website or by phone and cost depends on the package that’s ordered.  Orders must be placed by 11/21.

Here are a few other helpful resources:


Thanksgiving Planner Courtesy of New York Times


In case you really get stuck, the Butterball Turkey Hotline will be manned all day on Thanksgiving:  800-288-8372

Cathy Branciaroli also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her award-winning blog Delaware Girl Eats


   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment