The Washington Post

Casseroles, gravies and brines: Recipes to make ahead

It’s two days before the Big Show, which means there’s still plenty of time to prep ingredients and devise an organizing strategy for your Thanksgiving meal.

If you’ve already shopped for ingredients, good for you. Today or tonight you can:

* Cook the vegetables and/or meats for your stuffing or dressing. Assemble up to the point of adding egg or broth or other moistening agent; complete the recipe and bake the night before or the day of Thanksgiving.

That’s what I do with Hazelnut and Sausage Stuffing. This year I may change it up a bit, using a combination of chopped pancetta and crumbled, smoked kielbasa — but don’t tell my husband.

* Toast any nuts you may need; cool and store in a foil packet — preferably portioned in the exact amounts you’ll need. For example, spread walnuts or pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring

(James M. Thresher for The Washington Post)

Rich Turkey Stock. If you don’t feel like winging it.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy. This basic technique can most likely be adapted to your favorite gravy recipe. This Jus leaves out the butter.

* Roast or cook squash or potatoes or onions that will be pureed or included in other dishes. Cool, scoop out the flesh and refrigerate, remembering to label.

These Crushed Sweet Potatoes With Roasted Garlic and Ginger (only 2 grams of fat; huzzah!) can be completely made in advance. To reheat, cover them loosely with aluminum foil and warm in a 350-degree oven for about 25 minutes.

(Julia Ewan/The Washington Post)

I do these Balsamic Pearl Onions every year (pictured at right), two days in advance. It frees up stove top space on Thursday. They can be reheated in the microwave.

On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving:

(James M. Thresher for The Washington Post)

* Mix up the brine, then add the bird. I used to have to buy a new bucket and clear out space in my fridge to do this. Now, plastic brining bags are widely available. I still place the bagged bird in a pan, just to avoid any leaks.

* If you haven’t already done so, cook up a batch of cranberry sauce. Lots of Recipe Finder options are bright with citrus, but I’m partial to this Pear-Cranberry Sauce, with Bartletts and fresh ginger.

(James M. Thresher for The Washington Post)

* Pumpkin Seed Brittle might be nice for a guest giveaway at the end of the evening — just in case you’d rather hang on to leftover turkey and trimmings.

* Baked Apples. Simplicity from Jacques Pepin. They can be baked in advance and served at room temperature.

* Unearth the equipment you’ll need on Thursday. This includes a fat separator cup, an instant-read thermometer, a potato ricer, oven mitts that are clean.

Bonnie S. Benwick has the job most envied among cocktail-party conversations. If they only knew ... Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes:


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.