Chop some vegetables, defrost the pie crusts, set the table, but most importantly, relax.
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By Sam Sifton
Good morning. The old saw has it that the cobbler’s children go barefoot. It’s something I think about every time Thanksgiving rolls around. I spend weeks outlining plans for others, encouraging work-aheads for the freezer and the fridge, so that Thanksgiving Day (above) isn’t an ultramarathon for anyone. Then, for myself, on the actual day, I wake up in inky darkness and cook the meal all at once. It’s exciting to do that, but it’s not anything I’d recommend to those who don’t like living life on the edge, to those who don’t thrill to driving around on the bottom eighth of a tank of gas.
So I hope you’ve planned your play. Tomorrow you can play your plan.
Some won’t be cooking for the hordes, of course. Melissa Clark has written beautifully about the pleasures of cooking Thanksgiving for two. (You can find dozens more recipes for a small Thanksgiving here.) And no matter how many you cook for, you may find value in this YouTube video of our staffers sharing their best Thanksgiving tips.
Others won’t be cooking Thanksgiving at all, but instead attending the feast as a guest and, perhaps, considering recipes for Hanukkah, which gets underway on Sunday evening. For them, and perhaps for you, we have three new ones from Melissa: for olive oil chocolate cake, for melomakarona, Greek olive oil-honey cookies and for an olive oil lemon curd. (Other recipes from the files to consider: this stellar classic beef brisket with caramelized onions; these pure potato latkes; these orange-scented jelly doughnuts.)
And for everyone else: tips for tomorrow. Make sure to defrost your pie dough and crusts tonight if you’ve frozen them, along with your breads and stocks. You might assemble and bake pies tonight as well — you can leave them out at room temperature overnight if they’re not custard-based, in which case you can pop them into the fridge. You could put together a few side dishes that can be baked this evening and reheated tomorrow, or baked tomorrow, depending. (In that line, a green-bean casserole, a sweet potato casserole, some Southern cornbread dressing.)
You could chop vegetables now. You could whisk up make-ahead gravy (here’s a vegan version). It’s not too late to wet-brine your turkey (nor to massage your bird with salt and allow it to dry overnight in the fridge). And you should absolutely, if you can, set the table before you go to bed. Dragoon some children in the morning to write place cards.
And make sure to eat dinner. You don’t need a recipe for that. Instead, make a freestyle black-pepper chicken stir-fry. You’ll need a couple shallots; some ginger; brown sugar; fish sauce; rice vinegar; sriracha or really any fiery Asian chile sauce; boneless, skinless chicken thighs; and a lot of coarsely ground black pepper, with chopped scallions or cilantro to finish everything off. Slice the shallots and mince the ginger, and get them all soft in an oil-filmed pan set over medium-high heat. Add everything else but the chicken and let it reduce into syrup. Then dice the thighs and add them to the pan, and let them cook through. Dinner over rice, adorned by the green!
Thousands and thousands of actual recipes are waiting for you on New York Times Cooking. It’s true that you need a subscription to access them. Subscriptions support our work. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for yours. And I hope if you don’t have one already, that you will subscribe today. Thanks.
We’re standing by like EMTs, in case anything goes wrong while you’re cooking or using our technology. Just write [email protected] and someone will get back to you. (That’s true for tomorrow as well, at least until 5 p.m., Eastern time.)
Now, speaking of no-recipe recipes: Our cookbook of those made it into this Vanity Fair compilation of the best cookbooks of 2021.
Here’s last year’s Questlove Thanksgiving playlist on Spotify. Tradition!
Your turkey is done when its internal temperature, read at the fleshiest part of the thigh, is 165 degrees. That temperature will continue to rise after you’ve removed the bird from the oven, so you can pull it at 160 and be perfectly safe.
Finally, relax. Everything is going to be all right. I believe in you.
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