A funny thing happened the first time Ina made a big meal ahead of time: She actually found time to talk to guests when they arrived. “People started coming in and I had nothing to do. It was so weird!” she said. Ina admits she hasn’t always been brilliant when it comes to early Thanksgiving preparations, but in her just-released book, Make It Ahead, she’s mastered the art.
“I’ve believed for years that food is better if you prepare it before you eat it,” she said. “I had to force myself to start doing things differently.” This well-planned meal tastes amazing, and better yet, it frees you from the kitchen at just the right time: cocktail hour.
Make the roast turkey and gravy first
You make your gravy base and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months. “Nobody wants to stand there and hope their gravy won’t clump up the moment the turkey comes out of the oven. With this recipe, that will never happen!” says Ina. Roast and slice the turkey, then serve it over the gravy. Cover and let stand at room temperature up to 1 hour before reheating in the oven.
Get the Recipe: Roast Turkey and Gravy with Onions and Sage
Roasted Farro and Butternut Squash
“This is a recipe from California chef Maria Sinskey,” shares Ina. “Great taste and texture.” Assemble the plate, including the bacon and Parmesan, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bake before serving.
Get the Recipe: Roasted Farro and Butternut Squash
Leek Artichoke Bread Pudding
Assemble bread pudding and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bake before serving.
Get the Recipe: Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding
Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Assemble the dish, including the Parmesan, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bake before serving.
Get the Recipe: Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Lemon Ginger Molasses Cake with Whipped Cream
To prepare the cake, wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Garnish with whipped cream, ginger and lemon zest. Ina’s Whipped Cream Tip: “If you add just a little crème fraiche to stabilize the whipped cream, you can make it hours in advance.”
Get the Recipe: Lemon-Ginger Molasses Cake with Whipped Cream