1. Make your pies and freeze them unbaked.
For a fruit pie, you can make the whole pie then freeze it unbaked. Then on the day before Thanksgiving take it out of the freezer and “expect to bake a whole [frozen] pie for 20-45 minutes more than the recipe specifies, depending on the temperature of your freezer and the amount of filling,” advises Anjali Prasertong on The Kitchn. (Directions here). For single crust custard pies like pumpkin or pecan, make the bottom crust, put it in the pie dish, wrap and freeze, then fill and bake the day before Thanksgiving. (Directions here from Martha Stewart).
3. Roast a a chicken for dinner a couple of times before Thanksgiving to practice your poultry carving skills.
Yes, carving a turkey and carving a chicken are exactly the same. Learn how to carve a turkey (or chicken) perfectly here.
7. Split your grocery shopping into two strategic trips.
The first trip, which you should do a full week before Thanksgiving (before the supermarkets get crowded), is for nonperishables — canned things, flour and sugar, spices, paper towels, foil — anything on your list that doesn’t need to be super fresh. Then make a second smaller and easier trip the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to just pick up things like salad greens, any fruit you still need, milk and cream, etc.
10. You can also make the pureé part of any casseroles in advance and freeze it.
Any time you bake and mash up a vegetable with dairy (ie make a purée) and use that as the base of a casserole, you can freeze that base. Thaw it in the fridge the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving so you can finish your casserole.
11. Plan your day-of cooking timeline in advance. Write it down and tape it somewhere easy to read / check off.
To do this, get your recipes printed out then go through them and figure out what order everything needs to happen in.
13. Move your prepped frozen stuff from the freezer to the fridge to thaw.
14. Toast any nuts you need to toast; grate any cheese you need to grate.
Often salads, stuffings or casseroles call for nuts to be toasted before they’re mixed in. This is a step you can get out of the way in advance then store in an airtight container for up to a week. Same goes for the grated cheese you need to sprinkle on top of a casserole or mix into a side dish.
17. Or just use it as an extra fridge.
There is no room for that opened jar of artisanal jam or pickles in your fridge when Thanksgiving rolls around. Before you go grocery shopping, FoodNetwork.com recommends that you take all the nonessentials out of your fridge and store them in a cooler in the garage filled with ice packs.
20. You can even sauté your stuffing ingredients now.
Let them cool, put them in a plastic bag, and put in the fridge. Then tomorrow you can heat them back up quickly and finish making your stuffing without all the pesky herb picking and chopping.
22. Set the table.
THE DAY OF THANKSGIVING
23. Use a slow cooker to keep your mashed potatoes warm.
“To keep your spuds warm when every burner of your stovetop is in use, butter your slow-cooker insert, add a little heavy cream and spoon in the potatoes,” advises foodnetwork.com. Set the temp to low and remember to give it a stir every 30 minutes.
24. If part of the turkey starts to brown too quickly or burn, don’t panic, just cover that part with a sheet of foil.
25. Use your coffee thermos to keep your gravy warm.
Another great tip from foodnetwork.com: Once you’ve finished making your gravy, just pour it into a thermos or two (this one made by Zojirushi keeps things so hot for so long it’s actually kind of scary) and pour it into a gravy boat once the rest of the meal is on the table.
26. Know where to put the thermometer to tell if your turkey is REALLY done.
27. Revive dry turkey meat with a little warm stock.
One of the best things you can do while you’re cooking the day of Thanksgiving is have a pan of homemade turkey stock or storebought chicken stock on the back burner of your range — you can use it loosen up gravy, moisten sides, or, as foodnetwork.com suggests, revive overcooked turkey.
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