Tag Archives: thanksgiving

The Vegetables I’m Eating to Reset Post-Thanksgiving

My post-Thanksgiving reset plan

“I just want some vegetables.”

That was my wife talking Saturday night, though I imagine it’s what most of America was feeling post-Thanksgiving.

And while I’m right there with her, I’m going to take it one step further—I want crisp, bracing vegetables. I want crunch. I want an antidote to all that buttery, slow-cooked goodness that I swaddled myself in last week.

First up, celery—always available, always delivers. I’m currently fixating on Chris Morocco’s celery, green bean, and tofu salad with chile crisp. The addictive sauce, which you spoon over the sliced-up veg, is what pulls it all together. A mixture of ginger, garlic, cinnamon, chiles and more, it’s inspired by a version that Bad Saint chef Tom Cunanan bestowed upon the BA Test Kitchen last year. It’s one of those condiments that you taste once and insist on always having around—for eggs, rice, salads, you name it.

pork chop tiger salad

In this video, I’m making soy-basted grilled pork chops with a riff on the Tiger Salad.

When chile crisp is not an option, I’ll quickly riff on Alison Roman’s cucumber-and-celery Tiger Salad (watch me make it in this video). It is the perfect complement to a pan-roasted pork chop—hey, I never said I was going vegetarian this month.

Let’s see, what else? Again and again, this past year, I’ve found myself turning to Amiel Stanek’s dead-simple Napa cabbage salad, spiked with lots of lime juice and a flurry of chopped cilantro and dill. It’s as satisfying as it is simple.

50 dollar dinner party herby napa cabbage salad with lime

Alex Lau

And If I’m feeling a bit more ambitious, I’ll pull out my mandoline and trying to recreate Chef Ignacio Mattos’ subtle—almost beguiling—shaved fennel salad. It sings of orange zest and sweet champagne vinegar, while crushed Castelvetrano olives and shaved, sharp Provolone keep kicking at you with every bite.

It’s the ideal salad for a rich meal ahead. Of which, I imagine, I’ll have plenty between now and New Year’s Eve.

Get the recipes:

Celery, Green Bean, and Tofu salad with Chile Crisp
Tiger Salad
Pan-Roasted Brined Pork Chop
Herby Napa Cabbage Salad
Shaved Fennel Salad with Green Olives and Provolone


My Family’s Cooked Thanksgiving Out of BA’s November 1994 Issue Since 1994

This cake, from March 2015, is not a natural choice for Thanksgiving. It is not replete with fall produce and lacks a crust; it features frozen summer berries and a decidedly Italian-inspired batter. But I make it year round, more than any other dessert, and it has become my signature. It’s the ideal finale to our Thanksgiving menu—an easy, no-mixer required crowd-pleaser, and, if there happens to be any left, the perfect bleary-eyed Friday breakfast. There have been years when we don’t convene at my parents house; when the cranberry sauce stains an unfamiliar tablecloth, when the weather outside may be balmier than we’re used to, and the traditions shift just a bit. But, this year, we’ll be back in Cambridge with those worn pages in hand, exactly where we belong.


Stress Relief Products Getting Me Through Thanksgiving Chaos

Compared with every TV show, movie, and comic strip about Thanksgiving, my family’s version is extremely chill. Examples of “dramas” we’ve faced: Someone arrives an hour early and we must entertain them. Someone comes with a new girlfriend or an acquaintance or a Canadian friend and we must set an extra place. Someone brings a raw cranberry sauce to put alongside the cooked one, and there’s a heated conversation about whether the raw one is technically a relish. So I really have no business being stressed on Thanksgiving; it’s just that my usual low-grade anxiety is heightened thanks to the fun combo of heinous travel plus cooking responsibility plus large family gathering. But I didn’t come here for therapy. I came to talk solutions.

The Journey

It starts with the Thanksgiving Eve journey, wherein I smash myself onto a subway car and then a commuter train to get to my parents’ house north of New York City. Here, between the armpit of a business suit and a tiny dog in a Vera Bradley bag, I’m grateful for my daily Sun Potion ashwagandha habit. I get the adaptogenic herb powdered and stir it into hot water every a.m. to build up and support my body’s resilience to stress.

The Arrival

By the time I make it home, smelling like the pumpkin spice beverage someone spilled on my shoes, I’m ready for a drink of my own. But I’m also taking half a dropper of CBDoil, which has been shown in some studies to help with pain relief and muscle relaxation. I look for products made from the whole hemp plant, like Lily CBD. My parents can’t quite remember the acronym, but they keep asking me about “that new weed thing,” so this year I’ll share. Family bonding!

The Wake-Up

No one in my family sleeps late—it’s in our genetic code. If I want to try to make it past the still-dark hour, I need a set of earplugs and my Slip sleep mask, which stays put all night and feels like lingerie for your face.

The Prep

Between table setting, potato peeling, and whatever other tasks my ruthlessly efficient parents find for me to do, I pause for sips from my Fressko infuser flask. Inside is fresh-brewed skullcap, a plant that calms my nerves and helps with stomach pain. If things start getting a little hot in the kitchen, I’ll sneak off with a Monq aromatherapy pen. It looks like an e-cigarette but is really nothing but pure delicious smells such as eucalyptus, lime, and tangerine.

The Meal

If I’ve done all these things, I’m on cruise control by the time extended family and friends start arriving. This is the easy part: a frenzy of plates passing, glasses refilling, and claims that this year’s turkey is the best ever and we mean it this time. Afterward, with tryptophan coursing through my bloodstream, all I need is a couch, Forrest Gump, and a promise to do the dishes later. For a moment, I’ll forget what stress even is.

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My Family’s Thanksgiving Tradition? A Complete Disregard For It

It took me until I was almost 30 to realize how jealous I was of other people’s family holidays. Blame Instagram, blame Martha Stewart, blame my friends who are best friends with their siblings and whose parents have Famous Recipes and whose nieces and nephews have slumber parties. To paraphrase Tolstoy, happy families are all the same on Thanksgiving, and it took me until well into adulthood to realize that my own happy family was an exception to that rule: We had somehow missed a memo on calcifying our traditions, and I was bummed about it.

When I was a kid Thanksgiving was all about the balloons. I grew up four blocks north of the American Museum of Natural History, around which the Macy’s Day Parade (as we called it) inflated its enormous, unwieldy Snoopy and Superman balloons on Thanksgiving eve. The following morning all the floats and high school marching bands would line up along Central Park West, with Santa’s sleigh, the very tail of the parade, sitting vacant at the end of our block. Sure, we had turkey, but the food was secondary to the girls with batons and the costumed professionals holding a 65-foot Kermit on a string. My mother, a former high school cheerleader who will be horrified to have that fact printed in a magazine, is still very much an enthusiast, and she liked nothing more than to stand along the sidelines, shouting along with Al Roker or whoever was the grand marshal, imploring each balloon to “Join the parade!”

True to form, the most meaningful childhood Thanksgiving I remember has nothing to do with food or family—just the parade. It was the year that the New Kids on the Block were on one of the floats. (If you’re too young to bring up a mental image of the New Kids on the Block in, say, 1989, imagine haircuts like atomic bomb explosions, blousy silk shirts, and elaborate leather jackets.) I was so stunned by seeing them in person—just feet away from me, not on MTV—that the moment their float passed by, I became a black hole of tween misery for the rest of the day. Pity the parents who had to cajole me into enjoying the stuffing. It’s a metaphor for a holiday: so much buildup, so much excitement, and then the crushing realization that it’s a day, just like any other, that will be over in a few hours, and nothing more. Existential dread fueled by tryptophan.

“Once we came loose from the mom-dad-kid-kid structure, we were searching for the thing that made us feel like the cast of a Nancy Meyers movie, wearing white and unafraid of stains.”

My parents both come from small far-flung families, so holidays were never about the gathering of a tribe. Then my brother left for college in California, and coming home for the Thanksgiving holiday quickly proved ridiculous—cold weather, two days, jet lag. It didn’t make sense, and what for? For some turkey? And so for the last half of my life, Thanksgiving has been, well, sort of higgledy-piggledy. Once we came loose from the mom-dad-kid-kid structure, we were searching for the thing that made us feel like the cast of a Nancy Meyers movie, wearing white and unafraid of stains. It took me a long time to realize that there are a lot of us who feel that way, like we missed the orientation at proper adulthood and so we’re still flailing around in the dark while everyone else trusses and bastes with ease.

When my husband and I got together, I was 22 and he was 24. Mike had just moved to New York from Florida, and I was the only native he knew. The first Thanksgiving we spent together, we went with my parents to their artist friends’ loft on Cooper Square in the Village. We ate a butternut squash soup and marveled at the jars full of colorful gumball-size casts of the sculptor host’s head and teeth. I think that’s when Mike knew he wasn’t in Florida anymore. That was the first time we’d been guests on Thanksgiving, which felt a little bit like taking a vacation: very nice and also not what you want to do forever.

The following year we went to Mike’s parents’ home in the mountains of North Carolina. The air was clean and brisk, the view was mountainous and lovely, and civilization was an hour away. Mike’s stepfather, a man who feels about condiments the way my mother feels about parades, was very excited to show us how to fry a turkey, which he did in their garage because it was too cold to do it outside, and doing it inside the actual house is a very good way to set said house on fire.

The four of us—Mike, his parents, me—dutifully stood in the garage while his stepfather slowly lowered the bird into the vat. It looked like a coffee urn in a deli except filled with boiling peanut oil. There were crackles and fizzes. Nothing exploded. Mike’s stepfather let the bird settle into the pot, then took off his oven mitt.

“Cool,” said Mike, or something close.

“Okay then,” said his mother, or something close, and rubbed her hands together. They both turned around and headed back into the house, Mike’s mother to continue to cook the rest of the meal and Mike to do what so many young adult men do when in their mother’s house: get horizontal on an over-stuffed piece of furniture and take intermittent breaks to graze on whatever food is in sight. It seemed awfully rude to abandon someone with a turkey, especially cruel with the (albeit low) threat of disaster. Plus, I was still trying to endear myself to my future in-laws. I stayed put.

“You’re my turkey-frying buddy,” Mike’s stepfather said, verbatim. (Satisfyingly, I know this because he still says this to me on a regular basis.) We stood in the garage drinking glass after glass of very good California Chardonnay for the duration of the frying, which, if I had to estimate, took three hours, and which cemented our affection forever. (Fried turkey is delicious and not to be discounted.) Nevertheless, when it was time to go back to New York, we knew that mountaintop Thanksgivings weren’t for us.

We moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where I went to graduate school. We got married. (Small Thanksgivings with imported parents, transient in nature.) We moved back to New York, to a small house that had an actual dining room, where we hosted Thanksgiving for a raucous group of people, including several butcher friends of ours. If the food industry is famous for a hard-living, liver-ruining sense of fun, butchers should be at the top of the fun pyramid. People drank so much that one young (adult) guest vomited! It was a thrill, but too wild, truly, for our dispositions. The next year we’d just finished my book tour and came home the day before Thanksgiving. We ordered Thanksgiving takeout, which was nearly as good as having made it at home, only minus the leftovers, which everyone knows are the best part. I found out I was pregnant with our first child the next morning.

“Now we were going to be someone’s parents, and therefore all forthcoming holidays would be a part of the Official Record. We had to get it together.”

And that’s when it happened: the realization that we were two (about to be three) people who, despite our genuine affection for corn pudding, brussels sprouts, and pie, were unmoored. Before then I hadn’t minded the haphazardness of our planning because in a way it had felt like we were still just kids ourselves, and anything we did was a pretty good effort. Now we were going to be someone’s parents, and therefore all forthcoming holidays would be a part of the Official Record. We had to get it together.

For the past decade we’ve hosted. The guest list changes from year to year. We always have to ask our butcher friends how to properly cook the turkey. But the important thing is to have guests who will adapt to your life changes. One fun year, pre–Official Record, our friend Stephin brought pot brownies, and my father had a neat little pile of them, rendering him somewhat narcoleptic but pretty happy about it. The year after we had our first baby, Stephin brought earplugs. For everyone.

The more people came, the less we had to cook, which was delightful. I think it’s a good holiday when you realize that you left at least one dish in a half-complete state in the fridge—a tart unbaked, onions uncaramelized—and that it didn’t matter because there was already more than enough. Very few people show up to Thanksgiving expecting to have their mind blown, and so the bar is actually nicely low.

When I was eight months pregnant with our second child, we moved to a new house in mid-November and hosted anyway, though we got the whole meal from Poppy’s, our excellent local caterer, cooking only the turkey and dessert. Stephin brought packaged chocolate bars. No one cared. The key, I think, is to have enough guests that not everyone can easily fit around the table, which means that people can choose their own adventure. Informal, as gluttonous as one prefers, like a cocktail party, but with a mostly untouched bowl of cranberry sauce.

This past year—like so many of the Thanksgivings this decade—was a first for us. This time we had recently opened Books Are Magic, a bookstore in our Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill, our seven-month-old (retail) baby. We had a full house at home: both sets of grandparents, Stephin, his boyfriend, Stephin’s mother, our friend Tyler, and the rambunctious children, who are hard-pressed to sit at the table for a whole meal any day of the week, let alone when the house is exciting and full of people and there are cakes and pies and cookies in sight.

Mike wanted to go and open the store. “No,” I said, clearly moved by the spirit of generosity and friendliness. Our staff had the day off, and our customers certainly expected us to be closed. But then we already had all the grandparents in the house, no doubt watching the parade on television, which meant that it was possible for us to sneak out for a few minutes. We walked the ten minutes to the store, greeting people on the street as we walked. People with small children still need the twice-daily trips to the playground, regardless of holiday or weather. At the store we unrolled the side gate and shimmied our way in the door. We weren’t inside for more than two minutes before someone walked by and asked if we were open.

“It feels almost transgressive in the age of social media to admit that things aren’t going exactly the way you planned, that there’s room for improvement.”

“Yes!” Mike said, so thrilled to be asked. “What are you looking for?” The man was in search of L’Appart, David Lebovitz’s memoir of living in Paris, and just like that, we were open, at least for one customer. What was he doing for Thanksgiving? He was visiting family, knocked out of his routine, and needed a book. And we were there. Mike was right: It felt good to be a small part of someone else’s day.

The holidays are built up with the pressure of perfection and an audience both real and imagined. But isn’t this kind of the point of a day like Thanksgiving? To be a little more luxurious with your time? As I tell our five-year-old when he whines that his brother’s ice cream sandwich is lasting longer than his, you need to have an attitude of gratitude—even if it’s just acknowledging that my holidays are never going to be as perfect as other people’s, and I’m grateful for that. It feels almost transgressive in the age of social media to admit that things aren’t going exactly the way you planned, that there’s room for improvement.

Someday, when the boys are bigger, we’ll take the train uptown the day before Thanksgiving and herd together with all the other tourists to watch the giant balloons get inflated, slowly rising from their rest. Garfield, Pikachu. There will be some from my childhood, and some we can’t identify, and somehow there will already be characters that my sons have loved and gotten over because everything starts earlier than we think. What will my kids remember about the holidays, I wonder? They eat Parmesan off the rind. They want dessert first because they know what’s what. Someday, they might even try the turkey.

Emma Straub is the author of the novels Modern Lovers and The Vacationers.    

For more Thanksgiving long reads:

Rembert Browne Thanks God for Black Thanksgiving

Michael Chabon Reminds Us That Thanksgiving Is Where the Meal Is

Thanksgiving at Patti Smith’s House


The Minimalist Brussels Sprouts Thanksgiving Side with Maximalist Results

The quick-sautéed Brussels sprouts with walnuts that my family serves as a Thanksgiving side dish every year would surely not exist without support from the wonderful world of pro football. During the days leading up to the holiday, my dad, Frank Lalli, stations himself in front of the kitchen TV, paring knife in hand and pints of Brussels sprouts arranged around him, to begin what is known in my family as “The Brussels Prep.”

This painstaking process involves coring each tiny little cabbage and then separating the leaves so that they can be stir-fried over high heat in the minutes leading up to the Thanksgiving meal. Before that can happen, every leaf must be liberated from the rest, and it has to be done right. This drudgery is supposedly alleviated by a good college game, or at least that’s the theory. If Frank gets lazy or impatient and starts pulling the leaves off in clumps, or with pieces of the root attached, he will incur the loving wrath of one of the Lalli sisters (that would be me and my sister, Nina). We like our leaves fluffy. Because this laborious prep can be done days in advance, there’s at least some amount of balance to the whole affair. Yes, it’s a lot of vegetable butchery. But! It’s easy. And! You can do it on the Monday before T-Day. Plus! The dish itself takes minutes to prepare.

stir fried brussels sprouts

Photo by Michael Graydon

The more hands to help, the merrier.

I can’t remember when the Brussels first made an appearance on the menu. They’ve never not been there. Memories of all the years of making them have blurred together, a slo-mo flashback montage of Thanksgivings that took place in the kitchen of the house I grew up in, and the one my parents have lived in for the past 20 years, along with the cast-iron skillets that have been residents of both. The only thing that’s changed is the addition of some lemon zest and some lemon juice—a modern intervention on the classic presentation, and a move we might debate this year.

No matter how many pints Frank works his way through, there’s always just enough Brussels to go around the table once, bright green and crisp-tender, perfectly blistered and charred spots. Their preciousness—alongside an abundance of every other dish on the table—makes us covet them even more.

Get the recipe:



Chile-Glazed Shallots Are an Ideal Vegetarian Thanksgiving Side

For a reason I’m still not totally sure of, I decided to host 20 of my closest friends at my apartment for Friendsgiving.

And cook everything myself.

Being the oldest child, being a stubborn taurus, and working at a food magazine all probably had something to do with it. Not only did I have four dishes to cook, but three vegetarians to please, a VERY tiny oven to manage, and no dishwasher to speak of. So when I saw Molly Baz’s new recipe for glazed shallots with chile and thyme, I knew I had to make these sweet and saucy, extremely hands-off, and totally make-ahead-able flavor bombs.

The awesome thing about this recipe is that the shallots get all glazy and wonderful by spending A LOT of time in the oven. Which meant while they were doing their thing, I could chop celery and crush almonds for Josh McFadden’s celery salad, and wash all of the inevitable dishes piling up in my sink. (Again, no dishwasher.)

To begin, I peeled enough shallots for a sprint to the bathroom for a quick cry sesh. (It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without one, TBH.) Then, I added butter to a skillet* (*Dutch oven because I didn’t have a free skillet with everything else cluttered on the stove) and let the shallots bathe in butter until they browned a bit. I added a few sprigs of thyme, red wine vinegar, water, sugar, and pepper. My local grocery store didn’t have red chiles, so I frantically texted Molly Baz (the benefits of working at said food magazine above) about what to replace them with: fresh jalapeño or dried serrano (since that’s what I had in my house). “Fresh jal! Or use dried red pepper flake,” she quickly responded. TYSM Moll, TYSM. I ended up using 2 tbsp of red pepper flakes, which was way too much and made the dish REAL spicy. Word of advice: use more like…1 tablespoon! But again, the magic of being able to control this dish is also controlling the spice level.

Then you pop that warm shallot kiddie pool into the oven for about 45 minutes. After the liquid reduced to a sticky glaze and the shallots got all tender and soft, I took them out and transferred them to a glass baking dish. I did this because I needed my Dutch oven to cook in, and because I knew I could gently reheat the shallots in the oven in the baking dish, and then serve them right from there. I know, I’m literally a genius. I also may or may not have had a note on my phone that broke down my cooking times, as well as cooking vessels minute by minute. I looked like this:


Anyways, these were a breeze to make, didn’t dirty an insane amount of dishes, and accommodated my veg pals. I plan on making them on days that aren’t just Thanksgiving, and will probably assign them to a friend to make next year, when we do Friendsgiving potluck style instead.

Get the Recipe:



The Thanksgiving Recipes We Make Again and Again (and Again and Again)

My family used to be firmly in the bagged stuffing camp. That is, until I started making this recipe four years ago. Now, it’s a staple on our table…right next to the bagged version, which we just can’t quite quit either. It’s kind of like homemade mac ‘n’ cheese and the blue box version—almost two entirely different things, both pretty delicious. —Carey Polis, Site Director


If You Care About Thanksgiving Leftovers, You Need to Make an Extra Turkey Breast

If you want the best leftover turkey sandwich of your life, you have to make an extra turkey breast. That’s just how it works. It sounds like turkey overdose, but we promise you, you’ll thank us when you take the first bite of the sandwich that will change your day-after Thanksgiving tradition forever.

The ultimate flaw of the next-day turkey sandwich is that the turkey breast that was sliced from your beautiful bird has dried out even more in the fridge. Your mouth is going to be walking through a poultry desert no matter how much mayo you slather on that thing. That’s why you take out the ultimate turkey insurance policy. You roast a bone-in, skin-on turkey breast in addition to whatever else you’re making for Thanksgiving.

Wait, turkey breast that’s attached to the bone? But not to the turkey?

Yes, precisely. Cooking turkey breast by itself is the perfect move for turkey sandwich obsessives, because it lets you concentrate on cooking the turkey breast to perfection, without worrying about whether or not the dark meat off to the sides has finished cooking. And if you’re unfamiliar with the cut, have no fear, because a bone-in, skin-on turkey breast isn’t hard to find at your grocery store, especially around the holidays.

We like the breast to have the skin on and the bone attached, because it offers a bit of insulation for the meat, giving you a juicer, more tender turkey when you roast it. (You can definitely fry or grill the breast, but the evenly distributed heat of an oven will cook your turkey more gently—especially when you follow our method right here.) They also offer the meat an extra dose of flavor as it cooks, since they’re filled with fat, proteins, and collagen.



Always cut against the grain!

And while we’re on the subject of flavor, you should absolutely be seasoning your turkey breast with a dry-brine. A dry-brine will deliver flavor quickly and efficiently, while taking up less space than the large, turkey-sized tub of wet brine that would be sitting in your fridge. We’re really into the dry-brine from this dry-rubbed turkey breast recipe, which is packed with coriander, fennel, kosher salt, brown sugar, and black pepper. Plus, all that salt helps break down the tough turkey fibers a bit, again helping keep everything nice and moist.

Having an untouched, perfectly-cooked breast makes slicing up meat for a turkey club the next day effortless. But it also offers a couple other options: You can serve it the night of Thanksgiving as the star of your platter—or as backup, should the breast on your main turkey end up dry. Roasting a skin-on, bone-in breast is also a great move if you’re only cooking for a couple people, or have never roasted a turkey before. It’s a more approachable, less intimidating way to get that bird on the table.

Yeah, maybe the idea of roasting an extra turkey breast seems gratuitous. But this is Thanksgiving. It comes once a year, and you better be bringing your A-game. The turkey breast is insurance that you will. Do it for yourself. Do it for your guests. But also, more importantly, do it for the sandwich.

Get the recipe:



Maybe You Shouldn’t Roast Your Turkey This Thanksgiving

Every Monday night, Bon Appétit editor in chief Adam Rapoport gives us a peek inside his brain by taking over our newsletter. He shares recipes he’s been cooking, restaurants he’s been eating at, and more. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

Don’t roast your turkey this year

If I could offer one piece of Thanksgiving advice, it would be this: braise your turkey.

I know, I know—am I insane! Am I really telling you not to roast your bird, to not present a Norman Rockwell-worthy centerpiece for your holiday table?

Yes, that is exactly what I’m telling you.

A couple years ago, I riffed on Bon App’s braised turkey legs recipe and it was a revelation—rich, tender, fall-off-the-bone meat, cloaked in a silky, oniony, wine-y gravy. It was like turkey carnitas.

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And I was even able to cook the entire dish ahead of time, so I never had to worry about frantically checking the doneness of the bird, or comparing the temperature of the dark meat to the white, or fretting about opening the oven door too often.

The the most important step in the braising process is your first step: Call your butcher or ask the meat counter of your go-to grocery store if they can break down a turkey for you. You want the legs and thighs removed (I like them separated, so you’re left with four large pieces), and then have the breast meat taken off the bone.


Christopher Testani

This will allow you to braise your dark meat in a Dutch oven early in the day. And if your butcher counter is a full-service type joint, they’ll roll and season and maybe even wrap your turkey breast in pancetta or bacon. Then you can roast it in the oven to pin-point doneness as a porchetta-style roast turkey, in far less time than it would take to cook a whole bird.

When my wife and I last hosted two years ago, the rolled breast was…good. Ideal for next-day leftover sandwiches.

But the braised dark meat stole the show. Just before sitting down, I hit the slow-cooked legs and thighs with the broiler to crisp up the skin. Then I pulled the meat off the bone, shredding it with a couple forks and set it on a large platter. I studded it with cipollini onions from the pot and bathed the whole thing with the fragrant braising liquid.

There were no leftovers. And what’s a better compliment than that?

Get the recipes:

Stock-Braised Turkey Legs
Porchetta-Style Turkey Breast


Our Smartest Thanksgiving Potluck Strategies

A potluck-style Thanksgivings is, plain and simple, very logical: You can cross a handful of dishes off your scroll-sized list, free up kitchen (and head) space, and make your guests feel involved. Plus, your great aunt or cousin’s boyfriend might bring something delicious that you would’ve never thought to make on your own.

It can become more of a stressor than a solace, however, when one friend shows up asking to use the oven and another, stuck in traffic, is in possession of the only batch of mashed potatoes for the party. To make sure your Thanksgiving potluck works in your favor, follow this plan. They’re so helpful, in fact, they’re also rules to live by when choosing your contribution as a guest.

1. Assign within reason: A cooked turkey should move no farther than the distance between the oven and the table. Farm out salads, casseroles, and other hearty, sturdy dishes that can be carried under one arm (but might take up a lot of room in your own fridge). Cranberry sauce is the perfect candidate: It’s easy for someone to transport, it can be served chilled or at room temp, and it only gets better with time, meaning your valiant volunteer can make it days ahead.

2. Assign smart: The best assignments are good at room temp and avoid minimal “finishing touches.” Ask a guest to bring a frozen dessert or a piping-hot soup and it won’t be that way when it arrives. And unless you have burners, sheet trays, cutting boards, and oven space to spare (…who are you?!), think of dishes that can be made as far in advance as possible. And guests, don’t leave any garnish prep to the last minute: Toast nuts, mix vinaigrette, and wash and tear herbs at your own house, then transport them in separate containers if you’re worried about wilting or sogging. Leave only the final toss for game time.

3. Know your guests’ limits: Request that the perpetually late friend bring dessert, not an appetizer.

4. Divide and conquer: If you’re hosting a massive group, divvy up certain staples, like potatoes and stuffing, among several guests so that no one has to quadruple a recipe. (If you’re the competitive type, you can turn this into a taste-off. Just kidding—kind of!)

5. When in doubt, ask for an appetizer: If nothing else, something to snack on will satiate any peckish guests, buying you time to finish setting up.

6. Prepare to receive the bounty: When friends come bearing Tupperwares, make sure you’re adequately stocked up with utensils, bowls, and platters for serving. Or be clear up front that the vessels and silverware are part of the assignment, and guests need to bring their own.

7. Think beyond food: Get cooking-phobic friends and family involved by asking them to bring wine glasses, napkins, ice, or even a (really thoughtful) playlist. If all else fails, there’s always dish duty.


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