first thanksgiving

My mother in law (who lives with us), is too ill to do thanksgiving dinner as usual, so I will be doing the cooking this year.

My partner's family is picky, and my mother in law thinks that she is a better cook than she actually is (think Sandra Lee), when she really doesn't know much about food to begin with...however, she doesn't see this because she is a former lunch lady, after all!

I'm a good cook, but have never cooked a turkey before.

I'm getting a 12-14 pound bird from the amish market. I'm planning on roasting it breast side down, then flipping it over for the last 30 minutes of cooking to get the skin crispy (and 150 degrees). Now, I know to let it rest 20-30 minutes after it comes out of the oven. The only thing about the meal that I'm worried about is the gravy. Can you gather some pan drippings BEFORE you've taken the bird out of the oven? What do you normally do? I was thinking I'd make a roux, then add the turkey drippings (strained, right?), season as needed. Does that sound about right?

The bird will be stuffed as well; planning on making mashed potatoes, cornbread, andouille and pecan stuffing; my famous mac and cheese, peas with onions, bacon and mushrooms; cauliflower gratin and sweet potato casserole...does this sound good? a bit boring? like I said, I want to show off my stuff, but her family is very picky...

After I pull the turkey out of the oven (I'm planning on putting it in at 10:30 and for it to be out of the oven and resting between 3:00-3:30), I will put in a pan of stuffing, cauliflower gratin, and sweet potato casserole.

I will be putting together the stuffing, sweet potatoes and cauliflower the day before. The rest I will do while the turkey cooks

Another stupid question--about how many cups of stuffing would you say fit inside the turkey? I want to make sure I have plenty for both the turkey AND an extra pan. I loooove stuffing.

any other nuggets of wisdom you'd care to share?


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