Did you hear?

There’s a big dinner party this month and you may be hosting it.

Fear not, Team Soirée is here to help ease the stress of Thanksgiving dinner prep with Your Ultimate Local Thanksgiving Guide. Because we want you to spend as much quality time with your family and friends as possible, not slaving over a stove for days, we picked a few of our favorite Thanksgiving staples available for pick up around town. The best part? No one has to know you didn’t make everything from scratch.

The Main Event

• Turkey

Whether you prefer it smoked, roasted or fried, the bird always takes center stage at the Thanksgiving feast.

Get Smoked:

We love the thought of just picking up a flavorful smoked turkey from Hillcrest Artisan Meats (H.A.M.) this year. But, if you do want to smoke your own, H.A.M. recommends brining overnight, or for at least 12 hours in the following brining solution:

1 Gallon Water
1 Cup Salt
1 Cup Sugar

Smoke at 180 degrees for six to eight hours.

Fry Fest:

Fried turkeys are not only juicy and delicious but also take less time to cook than a roasted bird. A few things to keep in mind:

• The turkey should be defrosted, washed and completely dry.

• The pot must be dry before you pour oil inside.

• Oil level should be one to two inches above the turkey and five to six inches below the rim.

• Always fry it outside.

• Have a good thermometer handy to make sure the oil is the right temperature of 350 degrees.

The Roast:

One of the most traditional options, roasting requires only an oven and a roasting pan. If you are roasting your own, here are a few planning tips:

• Plan on one to one-and-a-half pounds of turkey per person.

• For every five pounds of turkey, it takes at least 24 hours to thaw. So, a 20-pound bird will take four or five days to thaw. You can also thaw under cold water, not warm, changing the water every 30 minutes and allowing 30 minutes per pound.

• Stuff the turkey only when it’s ready to roast and spoon lightly — don’t pack it.

For Starters

Deviled Eggs from Catering to You (8121 Cantrell Road, 614-9030)

A must-have at Thanksgiving — deviled eggs. These are a perfect pre-dinner hors d’oeuvre and one of our favorites. Creamy and perfectly spiced, let’s just say these paprika-sprinkled delights didn’t last long after we photographed them.

Perfect Pairing

David Cone, director of fine wines at Glazer’s Wholesale Distributors of Arkansas, gave us his top wine and beverage recommendations for Thanksgiving dinner.

Sparkling La Marca Prosecco - “Sparkling adds a festive touch to the day. I like to start off with sparkler because it gets me in the holiday spirit,” says Cone.

Pair with: hors d’oeuvres

White Villa Maria New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Pair with: turkey and seasoned foods

Red Belle Glos “Meiomi” Pinot Noir

Pair with: This lighter-style red pairs well with turkey.

Sides

Mac and cheese from Diane’s Gourmet
11121 N. Rodney Parham (in Market Place Shopping Center), 224-2639

One of the privileges of living in the South (aside from fried turkey) is having macaroni and cheese as a Thanksgiving side. Made with Parmesan, smoked Gouda, Gruyere and mozzarella, this gooey goodness topped with breadcrumbs had us going back for seconds.

Green Beans Almondine from Catering to You
8121 Cantrell Road, 614-9030

We love this fresh and light green bean dish. Perfectly seasoned and topped with toasted almonds, it’s a healthier option that remains a favorite.  

Cranberry Orange Relish from Catering to You

This tart and tangy relish offers a delicious alternative to traditional cranberry sauce. Tip: Use leftover relish as a filling for fruity snack bars or tarts.

Dressing from Diane’s Gourmet

As far as we’re concerned, dressing is just as important as the turkey. This classic homemade cornbread dressing is decadently fluffy, buttery and savory. Trust us, this dressing will make your grandmother proud.

Yeast Rolls from Your Mama’s Good Food
215 Center St., 372-1811

On Thanksgiving, carbs don’t count. (Whew!) It’s one of the reasons we don’t think twice about indulging in these delicious homemade sky-high-fluffy rolls from Your Mama’s Good Food. They’re perfect for sopping up leftover gravy, too.  

*Gluten free option: Café Bossa Nova’s cheese bread. Available frozen. | 2701 Kavanaugh Blvd., 614-6682

Desserts

For us, the best thing about Thanksgiving is the dessert. No matter how much turkey you’ve eaten, there’s always room for a slice of something sweet.

Pecan and Chocolate pies from Charlotte’s Eats & Sweets
290 Main St., Keo, 842-2123

An essential part of the Thanksgiving feast is, of course, the pie. Both the pecan and chocolate pies from Charlotte’s Eats & Sweets in Keo are absolutely worth the drive out of town.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake from Brown Sugar Bakeshop
419 E. Third St., 372-4009

No, that isn’t a typo. This Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake from Brown Sugar Bakeshop is literally two cakes stacked on top of each other — a pumpkin cheesecake and a pumpkin cake. It is out-of-this-world amazing!

Leftovers?

P. Allen Smith’s After-Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich with Cranberry Chutney intrigued our taste buds. Below, check out the recipe.

Sandwich:

  • 12 slices sourdough bread or rolls
  • Cranberry chutney (recipe follows)
  • Leftover Thanksgiving turkey
  • 4 ounces aged Brie, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cups fresh arugula, rinsed and patted dry
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked crisp
  • Butter, at room temperature

Spread one slice of the bread, or one side of a roll, with cranberry chutney and top with sliced turkey. Spread the other slice of bread or the other side of the roll with Brie. Add arugula and two slices of crisp bacon. Heat an iron skilled or griddle over medium-high heat. Butter the outside of the bread or rolls, and grill the sandwiches in the skillet or on the griddle until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately.

Cranberry Chutney:

  • 3 1/2 cups cranberries
  • 1 apple, tart
  • 2 oranges
  • 1/2 cup raisins, golden
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves, ground
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger, ground
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Combine fresh cranberries, finely chopped apple, wedges of one orange and the juice of the other, golden raisins and chopped onion in a saucepan. Now add the sugar and spices to the pan. Start with the brown sugar and then 1/4 teaspoon of each of the following spices: cloves, ginger, allspice and white pepper and then 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let this come to a boil, stirring often for about 20 minutes. After the chutney cools, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Find more great after-Thanksgiving recipes at PAllenSmith.com.