8 Tips for a Perfect Southern Thanksgiving


Looking to make this year's Turkey Day the tastiest one yet? These tips and tricks will help you make a perfect Southern Thanksgiving using just a little ingenuity and some help from the most popular gourmet shop in Greenville.

1. Plan ahead

One of the easiest ways to achieve a more enjoyable and less stressful Thanksgiving is to put a plan in place long before Turkey Day arrives. There are many things in life that call for spontaneity but cooking a huge dinner on a major holiday is not one of them. Especially if you're expecting guests

Your planning process should ideally include two items: a checklist and a timeline. The checklist will include all your ingredients and necessary tools, while the timeline will tell you when to tackle essential tasks (defrosting the turkey, for instance) and which dishes need to hit the oven first for the meal to be ready at the designated time.

2. Decide on your main dish

Spiral Ham

For most people, Thanksgiving is practically synonymous with carving up a big, fat turkey. But you're not obligated to cook poultry if you'd prefer something else. A spiral ham is a fantastic alternative and buying one pre-cooked and already sliced saves tons of time and effort.

You can go even further outside the box by visiting your favorite seafood counter or butcher shop in Charlotte and see what looks interesting. Lamb chops, crab legs, an herb-stuffed whole salmon, garlic -studded prime rib, beef wellington -- they're all viable choices, it's just a matter of preference.

3. Get help from your local gourmet marketplace

There is no award for the home cook who churns out the most dishes. Thanksgiving tables are often overflowing with a diverse array of sides, condiments, and snacky items, and it's fine to want to continue that tradition of abundance. But there's no rule saying you must prepare every single item from scratch.

4. Infuse your gravy with extra flavor

Brave Bone Broth

Let's be honest: the true hero of Thanksgiving is the gravy. The right savory sauce can hide a multitude of sins, such as overcooking the turkey or under seasoning the mashed potatoes, but it can also make perfectly executed dishes even better. The trick to great gravy is to layer the flavors -- season judiciously, use plenty of herbs, use flavorful fat like grass-fed butter to make your roux -- and use a high-quality stock.

Brave Bone Broth is the first locally made, all organic, grass-fed broth of its kind in Charlotte. Using ingredients like grass-fed beef, free range chicken and turkey, organic onion, carrot, celery, tomatoes, sea salt, and peppercorns, Brave Broth creates a savory, rich broth that's low in sodium yet high in protein and healing collagen. Use it for your gravy and guests will be begging for your recipe.

5. Buy yourself some breakfast

Lady Fingers Ham Rolls

The Thanksgiving cooking process usually starts well in advance of the meal. Some people even start several days early, brining their turkey or taking care of some baking. But almost every menu requires a full day of cooking on the actual holiday, meaning you have little time or space to whip up omelets or pancakes for a dozen hungry family members.

Luckily, Reid offers some of the best food in Greenville, not only for lunch and dinner but for breakfast and brunch, too. Our Sausage & Grits Casserole is classic southern hospitality baked into disposable casserole dish.

If you expect friends and family to be in and out all morning, you can put together a less formal breakfast/brunch spread that includes Reid's biscuits and rolls, fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, and plenty of coffee and tea.

6. Stock your kitchen with snacks

Holiday 5 O'Clock Crunch

Once all those yummy smells start winding their way out of your oven and into the dining and living rooms, expect your family's stomachs to start growling. Satisfy grumbling tummies with snack platters that you buy ready-made or assemble yourself using meats and cheese from your go-to gourmet deli.

Rolled up cold cuts, various hard and soft cheeses, dried fruit, crackers, mustard, cornichon, chutneys and a plate of deviled eggs should keep everyone occupied and satisfied until it's time to sit down for dinner. You can even add some classic Reid's products like a bowl of sweet-and-spicy Five O'Clock Crunch and a generous sprinkle of double-dipped chocolate pecans.

7. Delegate dessert duty

Caramel 12 Layer Cake

Maybe you're not much of a baker. Maybe you just don't have an opening in your schedule to roll out pie dough and chop up apples. Maybe you just want some help. Those are all valid reasons to ask for some help in the dessert department, but here's another one: Reid's simply makes some utterly delectable cakes and pies.

Guests expect to see pumpkin and apple pie on Thanksgiving, but you can add to those classics or take a total departure by slicing up Fannie Bragg Lemon Pound Cake or a Caramel 12 Layer Cake instead. It's okay to let guests bring their signature dessert too. If they're already offering, it means they want to contribute, and it's nice when a special meal feels like a collaborative effort.

8. Adapt, adapt, adapt

One of the most important tips or tricks you can take to heart on Thanksgiving (or another other holiday or special event that requires lots of planning and cooking, for that matter) is to avoid sweating the small stuff and learn to go with the flow

Mistakes happen. Ingredients will be forgotten. But when you have a willingness to adapt, a creative streak, and access to the top gourmet shop in Charlotte, no hurdle is impossible to overcome.

Can't find your roasting rack? Make one out of tin foil. Need a way to keep the mashed potatoes warm? Put them in your slow cooker on low. Get busy at work and forget to prep? Go to Reid's and do some smart shopping.

Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude, and no matter what you serve, remember that you're lucky to be surrounded by loved ones. That's a win every single time.