Robin Anish: Pro tips for getting ahead this Thanksgiving

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It's time to talk turkey. I don't mean talk about turkey, but talking turkey; getting down to the business of getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. No other holiday focuses on the meal more than Thanksgiving; but, don't panic! Most of Thanksgiving dinner can be made ahead of time. So, let's talk turkey.

Potatoes can be peeled the day before and refrigerated in a bowl with water to cover. Next day, cook and mash as usual. Same goes for rutabaga or turnips.

Any green vegetable can be washed and prepped a day or two before. Go ahead and prepare sweet potatoes, squash and casseroles for baking the next day.

Make cranberry sauce days before.

Breads of all kinds can easily be baked and frozen a couple weeks ahead.

The same goes for pies. Freeze unbaked fruit pies, very well wrapped in several layers of plastic and aluminum foil. When ready to bake, place frozen pie in a preheated 450 degree oven. Bake 25 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 and bake 40 to 50 minutes longer until juices bubble. Be sure to cut slits in top crust before baking. Use tin pie pans. Cold glass pans could crack. It's wise to place a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any juices that may bubble over.

Freeze pumpkin pie once cooled and very well wrapped. Remove to refrigerator the day before to thaw.

Make stuffing two days before or freeze up to two weeks ahead of time. Thaw in refrigerator.

Prep turkey the day before. Remove from packaging, etc. Place, unstuffed, in roasting pan, season, cover and refrigerate. The next day, it will be all ready to stuff, if desired and go into the oven for roasting.

I find the task of making gravy comes at a most inconvenient time; not until the turkey is done and dinner is about to be served. The solution to the problem? Make the gravy ahead of time.

MAKE-AHEAD GRAVY

INGREDIENTS: 

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1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

4 cups turkey or chicken stock, warmed

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

large clove garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS: 

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture is golden brown and smooth. Whisk in stock and remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened.

Refrigerate up to three days. Reheat. When the turkey is done, whisk in the pan drippings.

I'll share a few extra tips:

Set the table the day before Thanksgiving.

Warm the dinner plates. There's nothing worse on Thanksgiving than cold food. Place them in the oven for a few minutes just before dinner once the turkey is out and the oven has cooled down to warm. Alternatively, the drawer under the stove gets warm as turkey roasts, so put dishes in the drawer to keep warm.

Lastly, don't forget to turn the oven on when roasting the turkey ... been there, done that!


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