Thanksgiving brings about a laundry list of tasks with only a couple of hours to complete before the long-awaited trek out of town or your guests’ arrivals. Whether it’s cleaning, cooking, picking up the extra bottles of red for the road, or compiling firewood, you’re guaranteed to have at least a few tasks to conquer from the time you wake up to the somewhat early dinner.
Obviously, housekeeping duties can be completed before the big day, but a lot of the cooking and meal prep feels like it has to be started the morning of. The turkey is typically pulled from the oven an hour or so ahead of dinner, and because gravy relies on the leftover bird bits, it too has to be made on Thanksgiving. However, a few side dishes and appetisers can be concocted ahead of time, saving you from the stressful scramble of having to deal with the moving parts for countless dishes on 24 November.
Here are the three dishes you can make prior to Thanksgiving Day
From the delectable taste of sweet potato to a savoury and salty green bean serving, cassaroles are a Thanksgiving staple that can and should be cooked with ease. Most, if not all, of the casserole can be made the day before depending on your preference – if you want the dish to be piping hot and super fresh, bake it on Thanksgiving, but if you don’t mine just reheating it, then you can cook the entire dish ahead of time. At the very least, all the chopping (the major chunk of prep work) can be completed before Thanksgiving. Then, all you must do the day-of is pop it in the oven to cook.
The simplest sweet potato casserole requires 30 minutes of preparation and 50 minutes of baking. All you need to do is cut and peel six large, sweet potatoes after you’ve boiled them for about 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375F. Mash the potatoes. Stir in one cup of white sugar, a half cup of brown sugar, two tablespoons of ground cinnamon, and one tablespoon of soft butter. Grease a large baking dish and layer the bottom with the potato spread. Finally, cover the top of the sweet potatoes with marshmallows before putting the pan in the oven. The marshmallows should be perfectly browned by the time the casserole is ready.
A green bean casserole only takes five minutes to prepare. The ingredients include four cups of frozen, cut green beans, one can of condensed mushroom soup, a half cup of milk, one teaspoon of soy sauce, one half teaspoon of black pepper, one fourth teaspoon of seasoning salt, and one- and one-half cups of crispy fried onions. Start by preheating the oven to 350F. Then, boil the green beans until they’re tender. Add the veggies to a dish and mix the rest of the ingredients in except for the crispy onions. You can either refrigerate this for 48 hours if you want to bake it on Thanksgiving, or you can put this in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Take the dish out and top it with the onions before putting it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.
Like a casserole, stuffing – an absolute must have on the Thanksgiving menu – can be taken care of before the big day. Because stuffing needs to have stale bread, it’s almost like the dish should be made in advance. According to Delish, “optimum texture is really best achieved through being left out overnight or longer, so plan ahead”.
Stuffing may be a basic Thanksgiving side, but it’s definitely difficult to cook. The total time allotted to complete even the most elementary stuffing recipe is two hours and 45 minutes.
One- and one-half sticks of unsalted butter
One pound of day-old white bread, diced into one-inch chunks (around 10 cups)
Two- and one-half cups of chopped yellow onions
One- and one-half cups of celery slices (each about one-fourth of an inch thick)
One half cup of cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Two tablespoons of fresh sage
One tablespoon of freshly chopped rosemary
One tablespoon of freshly chopped thyme
Two tablspoons of kosher salt
One tablespoon of ground black pepper
Two- and one-half cups of low-sodium chicken broth
First, preheat the oven to 250F. Grease your 13x9x2” dish with some of the unsalted butter. Bake your 10 cups of day-old bread in the oven until it’s dry, or for around one hour. In a skillet, cook your chopped yellow onions and celery over medium-to-high heat for them to completely brown. This should only take 10 minutes. Then, in a large bowl mix the pan-seared ingredients with the baked bread, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the chicken broth throughout.
Increase the oven temperature to 350F. Beat the two large eggs and combine with the rest of the chicken broth in a small bowl before adding it to the bigger dish with the bread. Transfer the entire mixture to the greased dish and pop it in the oven, covered with aluminum foil, for 35 to 40 minutes. Finally, uncover the dish and cook for an additional 35 to 45 minutes.
Any pumpkin lover knows a good pie is kept cold, never to be eaten hot, which is why it’s the ideal dessert to knock out before Thanksgiving. Technically, pecan pie and apple pie are both great dishes to make ahead of time too, but because a pumpkin pie is a bit more challenging than one would expect, you should start with it. Between the prep time and cooking time, a pumpkin pie will eat up about five hours, including its essential cooling period.
Sally’s Baking Recipes calls for:
One pie crust (can be homemade or store bought)
One large egg and one tablespoon of milk for the egg wash
One 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree
Three large eggs
One- and one-fourth cups of brown sugar
One tablespoon of cornstarch
One half tablespoon of salt
One- and one-half teaspoons of ground cinnamon
One half teaspoon of ground ginger
One fourth teaspoon of ground nutmeg
One eighth teaspoon of ground cloves
One eighth teaspoon of black pepper
One cup of heavy cream
One fourth cup of milk
Preheat your oven to 375F. Roll out your chilled pie crust on a lightly floured surface. The dough should be flattened into a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 9x12 inch pie dish, pressing it into the bottom. Fold the “overhang” dough over for a thick outer line crust. Place a layer of parchment paper over the dough and bake it for 10 minutes. Once the crust is lightly browned, take it out, and make little marks across the bottom with a fork for ventilation. Then, pop the crust back in the oven for seven to eight more minutes.
For the filling, whisk the pumpkin puree with the three eggs and brown sugar. Then, add in the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture into the dish with the crust, making sure to stop when it’s three-fourths full. Bake the pie for 55 to 60 minutes. However, after 25 minutes, you should cover the edges of the crust with foil, so they don’t burn. Once the pie is done, with only the middle a bit wobbly, put the dessert on a cooling rack for at least three hours before serving. A pumpkin pie can last up to five days in the refrigerator, so plan accordingly.