Let's streamline the process by checking a main player off on the to-do list. Cranberries.
Do this one week ahead. That's next Thursday, folks.
Wonderful Fact Number One: You don't have to cook anything.
Wonderful Fact Number Two: This recipe can be made up to 3 weeks ahead! If you can keep from eating it for 3 weeks. Ideally, it's supposed to be made at least 4 days in advance. We've had it on Thanksgiving and don't tell anyone, but I made it only 3 days in advance. Actually, I didn't make it, my 12 year old did. Even better.
Wonderful Fact Number Three: My dear friend, Rose makes this every year and calls me on that day.
This here is the only recipe in this post. The rest are all just links. So as Jill would say, "Chillax."
New England Cranberry Relish
Prep time: 15 minutesYield: 20-24 servings, 4 cups
Serve the relish with poultry, game, pork, ham and lamb. Mix with mayonnaise for a flavorful sandwich spread.
1 bag (12oz) cranberries
1 red apple, cored, cut into 1-inch wedges (We used a granny smith. Shh.)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup NOT PANCAKE SYRUP.
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup pecans
Put cranberries, apple, sugar, syrup, cinnamon, and cloves in food processor fitted with metal blade. Pulse processor on/off to chop ingredients, stopping every few pulses to avoid over-chopping. The texture should not be too fine. Scatter pecans over mixture; pulse until coarsely chopped. Make at least 4 days ahead. Can be kept up to 2-3 weeks, refrigerated.
2. Another make ahead piece to the puzzle.
Yes, you heard me. Cornbread.
You're going to need a lot of it for the World's Greatest Stuffing which is Cornbread Stuffing.
***The link takes you to a recipe that says not to use breakfast sausage. Ignore that statement. I ONLY use breakfast sausage.***
I know there are lots of good traditional stuffing recipes out there. In 2005, I went "off book" and made Cook's Illustrated's Cornbread Stuffing. It was a life changing experience, and my father-in-law has been lobbying for my canonization ever since.
But first you need cornbread. And eventually you will need a 10x15 pyrex dish. Or two 9x9 baking dishes, or two 7x11 baking dishes. Or a 9x13 and an 8x8 might work too.
Make this cornbread recipe on Tuesday. The rest you can do Wednesday eve and bake on Thursday, or wait until the last minute and do it all on D Day, I mean T Day. Here is that link again, so you can refer to the stuffing portion.
3. Let's re-think dessert.
There's the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies.
Chances are you know someone who can make these better than I.
Chances are not everyone at your table is a fan of these pies.
|You can pretend the blonde chick on the end is me, because that's how I see this picture.|
Chances are everyone at your table will be a fan of this Pumpkin Bread Pudding that Bobby Flay made at Ree Drummond's house on an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
Plus, you can make the pumpkin bread ahead of time too!
4. You can make your regular go-to pumpkin bread for this recipe, or you can make Bobby Flay's Pumpkin Bread of ridiculous work intensity, masochist that you are. OR you can take a tip from a brilliant commenter on one of the posts of this recipe (I'm not sure where I saw it) and use Trader Joe's pumpkin bread box mix.
GO TO YOUR NEAREST TRADER JOE'S RIGHT NOW AND STOCK UP BECAUSE THEY SELL OUT IN A FLASH!
While you're there, grab some peppermint Joe Joe's because those things are like crack. You can only get peppermint Joe Joe's once a year, in November, before they sell out. You're welcome.
Make your pumpkin bread on Monday or Tuesday.
Then make the pumpkin bread pudding on Wednesday or Thursday.
5. But that part about Vanilla Creme Anglaise and Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce? Those are real nice, but loads of time and money. Vanilla beans are like $12! You can use homemade caramel sauce (or Smuckers), and reglee-R old whipped cream and it is still a prize-winning dessert.
You can also do what I did. Make the Vanilla Creme Anglaise, ruin it and the only vanilla bean, then try again without the bean. Still works! Also, I don't like anise, so I omitted that from the Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce, having blown my budget on a bean from Madagascar.
*Patrick insists that I add yet ANOTHER way to top this amazing bread pudding.
Everyone knows Southern food is the best food. But did you know that NOLA food is the best Southern food? Yes, New Orleans knows how to cook. I think it has to do with the blend of French, Spanish, Creole, African, and Southern cultures. New Orleans is like it's own planet when it comes to many things, music, partying, and food just top the list.
Back to the bread pudding, one year we made the Pumpkin Bread Pudding for Christmas but we topped it with this New Orleans Bourbon Sauce.
"I felt the earth move under my feet."
That year was Patrick's grandma's last Christmas. She had dropped a lot of weight and wasn't eating much. She cleaned her plate of bread pudding though. AND she had a second helping! I hope they are serving plenty of that at the heavenly banquet.
6. Let's talk about veggies.
Does anyone even like that gloppy green bean casserole made with canned cream of
I didn't think so.
Besides, Thanksgiving is a rich bountiful meal that needs balance...or a salad.
Yes. Fresh crisp green beans and a sprinkling of crispy shallots on a bed of lettuce drizzled with a dijon vinaigrette would do just fine.
|I tried to find a rights free image of this salad and this came up.|
My sister-in-law provided this on Thanksgiving some years ago, and now NO major holiday or feast is complete with Martha Stewart's Green Bean, Watercress, and Crispy Shallot Salad.
And the best part is....we don't even use watercress. We use chopped romaine. Hiyah! Ninja roundhouse kick to the watercress!
|So here is an image I ripped off Martha's site.|
I've had this salad with watercress and it's lovely, but watercress is hard to find and even harder to clean.
Romaine or butter lettuce or arugula, whatever floats your boat will work just fine.
And like all of my other recipes, you can crispy fry those shallots in advance.
7. Oh. Were you looking for turkey and gravy tips?
Ummyeah. Patrick does that part. Or his mom. Or my mom. I'm not old enough for that big girl stuff.
But if I had to do it, I'd use America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook or Cook's Country or Cook's Illustrated, because Christopher Kimball knows his stuff.
I'm going to provide this goat video again because it is gloriously awesome and to let you have a glimpse at what a Thornton Family Meal is like.
Linking up with Jen for 7(Never)QuickTakes and Cari for the Thanksgiving Day Link-up Party.