Tips: Thanksgiving Dinner on the Road

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November 9, 2012

Whether you live in your RV on a full-time basis or just happen to be on the road during Thanksgiving,preparing a big feast within the confines of your galley kitchen can bea challenge — but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, unpleasant or that you and yours must settle for a lackluster holiday meal. To the contrary, a little preparation and some creativity means you can have the Thanksgiving meal of your dreams, no matter where you roam — without stress or inviting chaos into your trailer, motorhome or fifth-wheel.

The first, and most useful step happens before Thanksgiving Day. What can be made in advance? Building your holiday feast in stages means things like jellied cranberries, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, bread, muffins or a creamy corn soufflé can all be prepared in advance, giving you a less cluttered kitchen (and shorter to-do list) on the big day. Cook or bake what you can, store appropriate and you’ll only have to heat things back up or pop them out of the fridge on Thanksgiving — nothing suggests you’re a good chef like keeping your cool and being able to engage with your guests while still preparing a delicious feast.

Next comes the turkey, which is the most challenging to cook in an RV due to its sheer size and the time required to prepare and bake it. For thawing your turkey, the cold-water thawing method is easiest, without resorting to using the microwave or letting it thaw for several days in the fridge. Instead, thaw your bird in a large, clean Rubbermaid-style bin or deep cooking pot that you can fill with water, add the turkey, cover with a lid and put it out of your way.

If your turkey will fit in your RV oven, that’s great; if not, a portable roaster oven will work perfectly, allowing you to cook the turkey outside (watch out for nosey dogs!), or on an out-of-the-way countertop or end table inside your vehicle. Roasters work just as well as built-in ovens, and are collapsible and light enough that they can be easily brought along from home. Be sure, like always, to follow established directions for cooking a turkey of a given size. Fun add-ons like bacon, lemons, spice blends or even dark beer can spruce up your bird — and the Internet is a gold mine of turkey-cooking ideas.

Once it’s actually Thanksgiving and your turkey is slowly cooking somewhere out of your way, preparing dinner can be a simple task of serving light holiday-themed appetizers or snacks, while heating up or preparing simple sides for the main event. Stuffing and bread can be best when made fresh, but potatoes, a corn dish, cranberries and desert are just as good if made a day or two in advance.

Prepare well, and your Thanksgiving can be a no-stress, no-chaos holiday that’s enjoyable for the cook as well as the rest of the crew. And remember, there’s no reason a Thanksgiving spent in your RV should be any less delicious than one prepared at somebody’s permanent home — all it takes is a little creativity.

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