Thanksgiving Dinner, Ready When You Are

Your holiday will be leisurely if you follow our make-ahead tips.
By Marge Perry

Your holiday dinner can be simpler and more peaceful with some planning—and dishes that can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. You'll simply pop them into the oven on Thanksgiving day, where they can bake unattended alongside the bird.

Up to two months ahead:
Both the cheesecake and topping can be made up to 3 days ahead, and stored -- separately -- in the refrigerator. Or make the cheesecake up to 2 months ahead and freeze it. Before freezing, though, chill the cooled cheesecake in the pan for 2 hours; then wrap pan in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Thaw cheesecake in the refrigerator.

Two weeks ahead:
Assemble the potato mixture and sprinkle with the streusel, then freeze the casserole up to 2 weeks ahead of Thanksgiving. Thaw in the refrigerator and bake as directed. Or cook just the potatoes a day ahead, mash and refrigerate, and proceed with the recipe as directed (starting with the addition of half-and-half) the day you're serving the dish.

Four days ahead:
Make the broth up to 4 days ahead and refrigerate. Just before serving, add the shiitakes, sherry, and chives, and heat the mixture.

Three days ahead:
Make the relish and store in the refrigerator. For the stuffing, prepare the onion mixture up to 3 days ahead. Cover and store in the refrigerator. You can also toast the bread up to 3 days ahead; store in an airtight container. Before serving, combine the onion mixture and bread, then add the broth and bake.

Two days ahead:
Prepare the onions in the Green Beans with Caramelized Onions up to 2 days ahead and refrigerate. Add them to the green beans in a last-minute saute just before serving. The onions are thawed to reduce the liquid that can splatter in the hot pan.

One day ahead:
Make the garlic-herb rub for the Herbed Turkey with Roasted Garlic Gravy and rub under the skin of the turkey, then let the turkey chill. After you cook the turkey, cover it with foil to keep it warm while you bake the sweet potato casserole and sourdough stuffing.