Tips For Pulling Together the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner

If you’re starting to panic about pulling together a Thanksgiving dinner—whether it’s for two or 20—not to worry. We found the perfect place to order a turkey, offer some tips for the best precooked meals—and have suggestions if you just want to go out and leave all the heavy lifting to a pro.

Cook Your Own

Located in the Sierra Foothills, Diestel Family Ranch is an excellent source for an organic American heirloom turkey this holiday season. This unique-to-the-brand collection of rare birds is a mix of auburn, black, and American bronze breeds dating back to the 1920s. The turkeys are raised on deep well water and fresh mountain air, along with a certified organic, vegetarian diet that’s 100% free of GMOs, animal by-products, antibiotics, growth enhancers, and hormones. All of these components give the birds a rich, juicy flavor.

Order directly from the farm at (fresh or precooked), or buy at Whole Foods Market. If you have your heart set on a specific size or style, you would be wise to order as soon as possible and store the turkey in your freezer. Just make sure to leave ample time to defrost. For a benchmark, a four- to 12-pound turkey takes one to two days to thaw out. If you don’t have space, purchase in late October or early November and select a delivery arrival date the week before Thanksgiving. If this is your first time cooking a turkey, the Diestel website has a step-by-step guide.

Plan Ahead

If you’d like to order a meal to go, Green Street Restaurant is open the day before Thanksgiving for takeout, as is upscale diner Twohey’s. The Raymond will be open for Thanksgiving Day dinner and to go. The Terrace at the Langham Hotel will be offering special menus for Thanksgiving and the holidays (hotel guests have priority). The Le Meridien hotel in Arcadia will also be open and serving meals.

Go Out

The Arbor

For a farm-to-table fine-dining feast, The Arbour on Lake will be open for lunch and dinner service on Thanksgiving Day and offers complete meals with creative sides to go. Owner and chef Ian Gresik (who previously worked with Joachim Splichal and Celestino Drago), will be serving a butter-poached turkey breast brined for 12 hours before using a sous-vide technique (which keeps the meat juicy) to cook the bird for three hours. For non-meat eaters, a baby artichoke risotto with shaved winter truffles or an off-menu roasted butternut squash with pomegranates are options. The Arbour is also open for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with the team hosting a dinner for Rose Bowl Parade judges.

Turkey Tips from Heidi Diestel, Fourth-Generation Turkey Farmer

Invest in a meat thermometer: If there’s one thing my mother taught me, it’s that trust is the basis of a solid relationship. It’s especially true with your meat thermometer. Knowing you can rely on this pointy piece of metal to tell you the truth is key. It can make or break you nailing the 5°F window that makes turkey really sing.

Rest is best: Rest makes us all better, and your turkey is no exception. Before carving your bird, give it a minimum of 30 minutes to rest on the counter under a tent of tinfoil. This gives the meat time to let all that moist moisture seep back in, which equates to a juicy bird.

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