1) Prepare everything ahead of time. At the most, leave only one or two things to cook Thanksgiving Day.
2) Cook two small turkeys instead of a large one. The birds will cook faster, be more tender and there will be more breast meat. Plus, you can cut one up in the kitchen while the other looks like a Norman Rockwell painting on the table. Switch them when it is time to serve.
3) Remove the backbone. It reduces the cooking time by 25 percent: Use silicon laces to hold the bird together.
4) Freeze balls of compound butter (butter with herbs or garlic) and put them between loosened skin and meat, where they will slowly melt.
5) Don’t stuff the bird with bread stuffing. It sucks moisture out of the bird, causing it to be dry and overdone. Use aromatics such as onions, carrots, celery or apples in the cavity to flavor the meat. Then discard.
6) Grill it. Save the oven for other good stuff.
7) Ask guests to bring their favorite Thanksgiving dish, but make sure they tell you ahead of time so you don’t end up with four dishes of candied yams. “Everybody brings something, that’s how it happened the first Thanksgiving.”
8) Choose desserts that can be made at least a day in advance.
9) Try to put some veggies into the thing.
10) Don’t try something new on Thanksgiving Day: It stresses you out even if it turns out well. Stick to the tried and true.
Bonus: Ask ahead of time for help in cleaning up and supplying to-go containers. Some guests don’t like or know how to cook, but lending a hand during cleanup is a great way to give thanks.
Source: Chef Dave West