There was this one time where we made Thanksgiving dinner and we served it before ten at night. Just once, this last time. In the past, we’d dream up an impossible menu, do far too little prep in advance and even leave some groceries for game day – rookie mistake. We’d soldier through burns acquired in haste, try to block out increasingly hungry children and our spidey senses, and eventually turn on each other when we wouldn’t let go of the idea to make the perfect pie crust instead of settling for ice cream already for dessert at this point because “it’s laaate!”
However, last Thanksgiving, we started simply, we stayed on track and we didn’t sacrifice a thing in the end. This is the menu that got us there.
Onion and Fennel Soup with Pistou
An Autumn Tart with Leek Cream and Chard
Roasted Garlic and Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes
Oyster Mushroom Stuffing
Tamari and Thyme Gravy
And, frankly, a killer dessert purchased from a trusted, local baker.
Here’s how you do it:
You shop the morning before. Don’t forget the ice.
You make the soup, prep the leaves for the pie and make the leek cream sauce, stuffing and gravy the day before since they will all benefit from extra time as their flavours deepen. Also, blanch the rapini and wash the kale.
Before bed, you set the table and put wine, beer and other drinks in the fridge to chill.
On the day of, you prep everything way earlier than you think you need to, and you eat lunch so you’re not cranky.
You do the mashed potatoes and stuffing, cover and hold.
Last, bring the cream for the tart to room temperature, roll out, top and bake the tart and while it’s baking, you assemble the salad, fry the rapini and reheat the gravy.
Then pour drinks, call guests to the table and let the pie you purchased warm while you eat dinner.
If it’s family, they’ll help you clean up. If it’s friends, let them help a little. Anyone more removed, protest any efforts, or at least that’s what I say. Whatever happens next, push some sherry on anyone who’s not driving which will spark a friendly but snarky convo about sherry only being cool again because of those “new Spanish” Toronto hotspots. (True.)
By the way, you might have noticed that this is a vegetarian menu. If you always have turkey at Thanksgiving, you don’t need a recipe from me. If you’ll have a vegetarian at the table, please don’t serve them extra sides in lieu of turkey. For this particular meal, everyone needs a special main that goes with all of those sides. Make the autumn tart especially for them, and all of the recipes within this issue for everyone you’ve gathered for your feast.