I was born on Thanksgiving Day. Perhaps, that’s why it is my favorite holiday. From our first one bedroom apartment to the larger family apartment we live in now, Thanksgiving Dinner has always been in our house. Every year, my husband makes his famous cornucopia as a centerpiece and sets the table-with placecards. I start choosing my recipes and prepping weeks in advance so I can enjoy spending time with my guests on Thanksgiving day. Over 50 years, certain recipes have become “locked in”; but I always try to make something new as well. Often the new recipe becomes part of the required ones for the next year.
Advance planning is a “MUST” for having food ready for a large crowd and even for a small one. Planning and accepting the reality that not every side dish will be piping hot- unless you have a restaurant sized kitchen and staff. Why worry about boiling and peeling sweet potatoes for a Sweet Potato Casserole which can be frozen in advance? The same philosophy holds true for my Smashed Root Vegetables, corn bread for Cornbread Stuffing, Pecan Pie, Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie and cookies. Cranberry sauce can be made several days ahead and kept in the fridge.
I leave all simple roasted vegetables for Thanksgiving day as well as the Turkey. I put the turkey in early in the morning and let it rest about 45 minutes until I carve it and then tent it with foil. Meanwhile the top of the oven is free to make the gravy and any other recipes I choose like Brussels Sprouts, red cabbage with apricots, or rice with dried fruit. Once the turkey is out of the oven, that space is available for heating up the casseroles.
It’s all somewhat of a dance but it works. Oh- I nearly forgot- hors d’oeuvres! I serve hors d’oeuvres instead of an appetizer. It’s easier and there are less plates to wash. Also- people can’t do justice to hors d’oeuvres and then a large three course meal. My hors d’oeuvres are: hot dogs in blankets-purchased from a store and baked at home, Mushroom Ears (prepped and frozen-sliced and baked the day of Thanksgiving), some dip with chips ie. Hummous, White Bean Dip, Vegetarian Chopped Liver, Fried Olives. Depending on my timing that day and the number of guests I have, I make more or less of these items.
By the way, for those of you who observe Shabbat, I recycle Thanksgiving and add Challah, grilled steak or Sweet and Sour Meatballs for Shabbat Dinner.
Note: save the turkey frame after carving. There are loads of yummy bits still on it plus herbs. I make Turkey Soup either Friday or Sunday morning. No waste.