Good morning. This is the final weekend before next week’s run-up to Thanksgiving, a holiday feast that some of us, even our best kitchen sharpies, may be cooking for the very first time.
Because maybe you’ve done the turkey and the sides in the past, but never the pies. Maybe the pies but never the bird. Maybe you’ve cooked only the sides. Maybe only one side. (My friend Ricky has brought mashed potatoes to our Thanksgiving for more than 20 years. He wrote me the other day to say it’s about all he has on his menu for now: a bowl of it and some spoons for the kids.) And what about gravy? What about cranberry sauce? Even if you’re cooking only for those in your immediate family, the full Thanksgiving spread is hard work that benefits from helping hands. This year, those hands must help just themselves, in the midst of the pandemic. Our sacrifice will ensure crowded tables in years to come.
It’s best to get started this weekend. We’ve got dozens of recipes for Thanksgiving dishes that you can make ahead. And you can absolutely lay in the supplies for what you’ll need in the week to come: the turkey, if that’s what you’re cooking; the flours and fats and wines and squashes and fruit for the pies. Shop and organize on Saturday and Sunday, turn to our menu planner, and maybe the idea of this strange, collaborative feast will turn into something hopeful for you, despite how different it will be from Thanksgivings past.
But don’t cook just for Thanksgiving this weekend. Cook for yourself, in the spirit of the season. For instance, I love the looks of these cider-braised chicken thighs with apples and greens (above), though I might heed one of the notes a reader left on the recipe and try it with shaved red cabbage in place of the greens.
Or maybe this bo kho, the Vietnamese braised beef stew? This cauliflower gratin with leeks and white Cheddar? A carrot cake? A skillet caramel apple crisp? Absolutely, for lunch on Sunday, this kale and brussels sprouts salad with pear and halloumi.
Thousands and thousands more recipes to cook in the next few days and weeks are waiting for you on NYT Cooking. Go see what you find. Then save the recipes you want to cook and rate the ones you’ve made. Please leave notes on them, too, if you want to remind yourself of a hack or substitution, or to broadcast your findings to your fellow subscribers.
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And please ask us for help if something goes wrong along the way, either in your kitchen or on our site and apps. We’re at [email protected]. We will get back to you, I promise. (You can reach me at [email protected]. I read every letter sent.)
Now, would you please check out Tejal Rao’s latest in The Times, a column about the Appalachian tradition of salt-rising bread, loaves made with fermentation but no yeast, a fickle method that delivers rewards when it wants to. Of course there’s a recipe, tested and tested and tested again. Still, your mileage may vary.