Anyone who's ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner knows that menu planning is only half the battle. Sure, you might have a great collection of recipes to offer friends and family, but how on earth are you going to manage preparing and cooking it all with kids and relatives underfoot? We've served up a Thanksgiving menu for 12, along with tips, tricks, and instructions for getting everything ready for the big day.
Contributor: Dianne Morgan
Up to three weeks ahead:
• Make chutney; refrigerate in glass jars.
Up to one week ahead:
• Freeze piecrust dough in pie plate(s) for either or both pies.
Up to four days ahead:
• Place frozen turkey in refrigerator to thaw. (Allow about one full day for every four pounds to thaw, plus an extra day for brining.)
Up to three days ahead:
• Prepare and chill the dip.
• Toast bread cubes for stuffing; store at room temperature in a zip-top plastic bag.
Up to two days ahead:
• Toast baguette slices (if using) to accompany the dip; store at room temperature in a zip-top plastic bag.
• Prepare and refrigerate vinaigrette for salad.
• Prepare and refrigerate brining liquid (minus ice).
• Make and refrigerate sweet potatoes.
• Toast hazelnuts for Brussels sprouts; store at room temperature in a zip-top plastic bag.
Up to one day ahead:
• Shave cheese for salad; store in refrigerator in a zip-top plastic bag.
• Place turkey in brining liquid with ice; refrigerate in plastic oven bags.
• Prepare gravy through Step 1; cover and chill.
• Bake and chill Pecan Pie.
• Bake stuffing.
• Slice Brussels sprouts and chop bacon; store separately in the refrigerator.
• Bake Pumpkin Pie.
A few hours before dinner:
• Place turkey in oven (tent cooked turkey with foil to keep it warm).
At the last minute:
• Reheat butternut squash dip in microwave.
• Toss salad.
• Bake or reheat stuffing and sweet potatoes together in oven.
• Finish preparing gravy while turkey rests.
• Warm purchased dinner rolls in oven.
• Cook Brussels sprouts.
• Stir bourbon into whipped topping for pecan pie.
Wine Note: With our Thanksgiving dinner, one wine needs to match a variety of dishes and flavors. Luckily, there is a wine that can do it all: pinot noir. Because it's a red wine, pinot noir has a savory, earthy character that complements many fall dishes. Yet it also has good underlying acidity–the secret ingredient when you need a single wine to work with a big range of flavors. Buy a current vintage pinot from any of these producers: Sanford, Pisoni, Robert Mondavi Winery, Robert Sinskey, or Sebastiani.
See our Thanksgiving Recipes.