Control freaks, this plan is for you. The recipes for this meal (at right) are arranged by the order in which you should prepare them. Suppose you're planning to serve dinner at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day:
On Tuesday and Wednesday:
* Make the Apple Cider Brine, put the turkey in it and refrigerate.
* Make Turkey Stock and refrigerate.
* Make Pumpkin Caramel Pudding and refrigerate.
* Make Cranberry Citrus Relish and refrigerate.
On Thanksgiving morning:
* Prepare Bread Stuffing with Apples, Bacon and Onion. If you are not putting the stuffing in the bird, bake the stuffing and then refrigerate it. You will need to rewarm it for about 15 minutes before serving.
* Put the Basic Roast Turkey in the oven at the appropriate time, allowing from 3 to 33/4 hours for an unstuffed bird of 12 to 14 pounds. (If it's stuffed, you'll need more time, about another half hour.) Insert an ovenproof thermometer in the turkey to register degree of doneness.
Of course, a common rookie mistake is to fail to defrost a frozen turkey sufficiently. Either buy a fresh one or, if you have a frozen one, plan ahead and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator. To defrost adequately, it should be in the refrigerator 24 hours for every 5 pounds. That means if you have a 15-pound turkey it should be removed from the freezer and put in the refrigerator for three days before it is ready to cook. And once the bird is in the oven, hang around the kitchen to baste the bird, as often as every 30 minutes.
On Thanksgiving afternoon:
* Clean and slice the carrots and refrigerate.
* Clean and trim the green beans and refrigerate.
* Make the Mashed Potatoes and keep them in the top of a double boiler, where they will last 2 hours (see the recipe on Page F7; Julia Child has taught us all how to keep them creamy and delicious).
* Ready the ingredients for Pointsettias.
* Take the turkey out of the oven and let it rest sufficiently before you carve it.
* Return the stuffing to the oven to heat it through for about 15 minutes.
* Make the Oven Roasted Carrots.
* Make the Green Beans.
* Make the Turkey Gravy from the pan drippings.
* Remove the stuffing from the oven.
* Carve the bird.
* Pour a Poinsettia.
-- Jeanne McManus