With just a couple of weeks left before Thanksgiving — 19 days as of today — this weekend would be a great time to begin thinking and jotting down notes and ideas for the grand feast.
The New York Times has created an interactive Thanksgiving Menu Planner that to help “build a feast for everyone at your table.”
And while my family has traditional menu items that it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without, we also like to add something new or at least give a new twist on a favorite.
By sliding the options one way or another on the Thanksgiving Guide will produce a variety of delicious food recipes to serve at your feast. Or are good candidates for a trial before the big day!
And if you need to brush up on the basics — here are a couple of essential guides:
Here are some of the recipes I flagged to “try” before Thanksgiving.
A Thanksgiving Menu Planner
New England Roast Turkey
“This adaptation of an old Yankee Magazine recipe for classic New England roast turkey is solid and unfancy, the sort that has adorned tables from Portsmouth north for generations. Old-line New Englanders may be tempted to soak an old cotton button-down dress shirt in butter and drape it over the bird for the first two hours. But this is not necessary.”
Roast Heritage Turkey and Gravy
“Heritage turkeys can be tricky to roast; the flesh is firmer than that of a supermarket bird. P. Allen Smith, the Southern cooking and lifestyle expert from whom this recipe is adapted, suggests a day in a brine sweetened with apple cider and then roasting the bird on a bed of rosemary. Roasted giblets and a chopped hard-boiled egg add texture and depth to his country-style gravy. 1The eggs and giblets make it a little more rustic and a little more interesting,’ he said. ‘It’s the gravy that saves that dry turkey.'”
“This buttery, fluffy dish comes from Edna Lewis, the African-American chef and cookbook author credited with preserving countless recipes from the old South. It serves as not only a seasonal bridge — a farewell to summer, with winter chill waiting in the wings — but also as a sweetly welcome blurring of the lines between a side dish and a dessert.”
Sweet Potato Casserole
“This version of the classic Thanksgiving side dish forgoes the traditional marshmallow topping for a generous sprinkle of brown sugar, butter and pecans. You get crunchy, soft and sweet all in one glorious bite.”
French Green Beans and Shallots
By Jacques Peppin — “These are perfect green beans: simple flavors combined into an elegant dish that goes with almost anything. Mr. Pepin suggests a roast chicken, but they would pair equally well with a celebratory roast.”
Wild Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts
“Here, wild mushrooms and brussels sprouts get crisp and golden in the oven while brandy-glazed chestnuts add a touch of sweetness. You can make the shallot-chestnut mixture the day before and refrigerate it in an airtight container. Sprinkle it evenly over the roasting vegetables during the last 5 minutes of cooking to warm it through.”
Harvey House Candied Sweet Potatoes
“When Fred Harvey opened his first Harvey House restaurant in 1876 on the railway line in Topeka, Kan., his idea was radical for the time: Railroad passengers would be fed good food in a pleasant environment by wholesome young women. His concept was so successful that it spawned 84 restaurants, a Hollywood movie and an official cookbook. And it was in “The Harvey House Cookbook” that we found this excellent recipe for sweet potatoes candied with confectioners’ sugar and butter. It is best served warm rather than piping hot, which makes it convenient for big meals like Thanksgiving. Bake it before you roast your turkey, then reheat it briefly just before serving.”
Fannie Farmer’s Parker House Rolls
“In 1896, Fannie Farmer, then principal of the Boston Cooking School, wrote and published a cookbook that revolutionized the way home cooks thought about cooking and housekeeping (she introduced the concept of using measuring cups and spoons, among other things). The book, originally titled ‘The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book,’ was a smash hit in the United States and became known simply as ‘The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.’ It is still in print. This classic recipe is an adaptation of one found in a revised edition by Marion Cunningham. It takes time but very little effort, and you will be rewarded with soft, pillowy, butter-rich rolls worthy of your best breadbasket.”
Cranberry Orange Jelly
“This is the cranberry sauce for cooks who secretly (or not so secretly) like the kind that comes in a can, a quivering ruby mass with an unexpected dash of orange and spice. Guests can scoop it out of a pretty glass bowl, but it’s more fun to unmold it onto a cake plate and serve it in slices. Make sure the water your use to unmold your jelly is quite hot, not just warm. The idea is to melt the outer jelly layer just enough so that the whole mold can slip right out.”
Double Apple Pie
“This recipe is a keeper. Gently spiced with cinnamon, tinged with brown sugar and loaded with apple butter, it’s as deeply flavored as an apple pie can be, all covered with a buttery wide-lattice top crust. Although it’s at its most ethereal when baked on the same day you serve it, it’s still wonderful made a day ahead. (Don’t let making your own pie crust intimidate you: our pie guide has everything you need to know.)”