Thanksgiving should be a holiday to celebrate and enjoy with family and friends, but too often it turns into a stress bomb for those involved in putting the special meal together and making it a success. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, we will provide a series of tips to help you make this a stress-free holiday, and one that you can enjoy.

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Thanksgiving is coming. That is a given. If you are the one in charge of making the celebration happen, you have one week.

One week!

No worries, that is more than enough time for you to become a Holiday Hero!

As we have said in prior posts, the first order of business is to embrace the process. It is going to happen, so you should try to enjoy it. Break it down into individual, easy-to-accomplish tasks.

Here is what to do one week out:

  • Clean out the refrigerator. You will need to make room for meal prep and for leftovers. Do this now when you are not pressed for time or space.
  • Clean the house. Get it ready for guests now, and then pick up and keep it clean as you go leading up to the holiday. Trying to clean the house while juggling everything else at the last minute is stressful. Do it now when you can set the pace.
  • Remove frozen turkeys from the freezer. You need to allow a day of thawing for every four pounds of turkey weight.
  • Cook what you can. You can make stocks, gravies, soups, rolls or bread, cranberry sauce, and side dishes like sweet potato casserole ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate them. Doing it now is one less thing to do on Thursday.
  • Prepare a brine. This can be either wet or dry. Brines bring extra flavor and moistness to your bird.

There is some debate over brining. Some experts say wet brines are preferable. Others claim dry brines are easier and just as effective.

Wet brines should be started on Monday or Tuesday. The bird should be submerged for at least 24 hours in a cooler or a large bucket. Because brines contain salt and sugar, they trigger a chemical process called osmosis that transfers the flavor and moisture from the brine to the turkey. Once the brining is complete, the turkey should be removed from the solution and allowed to dry in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

Dry brines work in similar fashion, but instead of submerging, the dry ingredients are rubbed into the bird. Dry brining can be done later in the process, Tuesday or Wednesday, and they are not rinsed off.

Here are two brine recipes, one for wet and one for dry:

Wet Brine

1 Cup Kosher Salt

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Gallon Vegetable Stock

1/2 Gallon Chicken Stock

1 Gallon Water

1 Onion, Quartered

1 Apple, Quartered

Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Allow to cool. Transfer brine to an ice chest, cooler, or large bucket. Place turkey in liquid. Place it all in a refrigerator and allow the turkey to brine for at least 24 hours.

Remove bird from brine. Pat dry and allow it to rest in the refrigerator until you are read to cook it.

Dry Brine

2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

2 Tablespoons White Sugar

1 Tablespoon Black Pepper, Ground

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon grated citrus zest (Optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Rub entire turkey with dry brine mixture. Refrigerate until you are ready to cook it.