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Cabarrus Magazine

A Holiday Gathering Guide for Hosts

Nov 05, 2018 11:47AM ● By Jason Huddle

A Holiday Gathering Guide for Hosts

Gearing up for a crowd at your holiday festivities can provide moments of excitement, stress, fun and plenty of other emotions as the big dinner draws near.

This year, avoid any nagging feelings of doubt with this step-by-step guide to prepare for large gatherings.

Plan in advance. Even if you’re typically the last-minute type, the hectic holiday season is no time to wait until a few days ahead of the celebration to throw meals and more together. Instead, be sure to put together a guest list and send invites at least a few weeks out. Take inventory of supplies like silverware, plates, serving dishes and any accessories you’d like to feature at the table. Make an outline of the food each guest is bringing, or, if you’ll supply all the food, ensure there will be plenty for everyone.

Make a list. Planning only takes you so far if you don’t write everything down. Once the menu is determined, list out what you’ll need to make the magic happen. Don’t forget to jot down easily overlooked items that can be picked up the day of, such as ice.

Remember to thaw. One surefire way to make the big day a big disaster is to forget to thaw your main course. If you’re planning to roast a turkey – perhaps the most common centerpiece – remember it takes around a day to thaw for every two pounds of meat. So, for example, it could take close to a week for a 14-pound turkey to fully thaw prior to cooking.

Prep the day before. There are many tasks (big and small) that can be taken care of the day before guests arrive, making the holiday less stressful for hosts. From whipping up simple appetizers like dips to giving the house a thorough cleaning, there’s plenty of pressure that can be taken off your shoulders 24 hours in advance.

Find more holiday hosting tips and meal solutions at


Whole Basted Turkey with Roasted Grape Gastrique



Roasted Grapes

4 cups assorted grapes (picked, washed and dried)

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cinnamon stick

Nonstick cooking spray



2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons water


1 Omaha Steaks whole basted turkey (10 pounds)



Roasted grapes: Heat oven to 350˚F. In a bowl, combine grapes, olive oil, salt, pepper and cinnamon stick. Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the grape mixture onto the baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and pour into a bowl.


Gastrique: In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, 5-7 minutes, until sugar starts to brown. Remove from heat and slowly add vinegar. Return to heat and stir until combined. Add cornstarch and water mixture; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Pour gastrique mixture over roasted grapes and reserve.


Turkey: Thaw turkey completely in your refrigerator 3-4 days or, keeping turkey in vacuum-sealed packaging, place in a sink full of cold water 5-7 hours, changing water approximately every 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350˚F. Remove the turkey from vacuum-sealed bag and place it in the bag provided; secure bag with a twist tie. Place bag in deep roasting pan. Using a fork, puncture 6-8 holes in top of bag. For extra browning or crispness, slit top of bag for final 20-30 minutes of roasting.


Roast the turkey for 2 hours, 45 minutes to 3 hours. It is done when the internal temperature measured with a kitchen thermometer reaches 165˚F. Pour the roasted grape gastrique over the turkey and serve.

Article By Cindy Long

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