Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is like running a three ring circus. Last year, I had to kick everyone out of the kitchen an hour before the turkey was done, just so I could focus on getting my creamed spinach, honey glazed carrots, mashed rutabagas, creamed onions (and more) off the stove and on to the table.
Here’s a little Thanksgiving secret: It’s okay to make a few sides the day before and reheat them. While you don’t want your mashed potatoes to sit and you shouldn’t roast your brussel sprouts the day before, some dishes keep happily overnight. Here are three make-ahead sides that are easy, last-minute additions to your Thanksgiving feast.
Honey Glazed Carrots
I’ve been making these Martha Stewart honey carrots for a few years now. They’re incredibly simple — they take about 20 minutes from prep to finish. And they keep in a Tupperware perfectly. I don’t bother chopping my carrots; I substitute a bag of baby carrots.
What You’ll Need:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower
2 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths, halved if thick
1 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add carrots; cook, stirring once, until beginning to brown, 2 minutes.
2. Add broth, honey, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until crisp-tender, 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook over medium-high until carrots are tender and liquid is syrupy, 7 to 9 minutes more (there should be only a small amount of liquid remaining).
Get the entire honey glazed carrots recipe.
Elizabeth started making this to have an extra “green” at Thanksgiving, although it’s not exactly low calorie. The first time she made it as a novice newlywed cook, she lived in the city and her tiny kitchen was covered in spinach! Still, it’s one of her make-ahead Thanksgiving best.
What You’ll Need:
4 pounds spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 onion (12 oz.), peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese
1. Fill a 6- to 8-quart pan over high heat with spinach and turn frequently with a wide spatula; add more spinach as leaves wilt and shrink. When all the spinach is added and wilted, in 8 to 10 minutes, cook and stir leaves about 1 minute longer. Pour spinach into a colander to drain. Rinse and dry pan.
2. Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion; stir often until limp, about 5 minutes. Add flour, nutmeg, and thyme. Stir until flour is golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in broth, cream, and salt until mixture is smooth. Return to heat; stir until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring often, to blend flavors, 5 minutes.
Get the entire creamed spinach recipe.
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
No one should be making their cranberry sauce the day of Thanksgiving. It keeps perfectly in the fridge, and tastes great when it’s scooped on to plates the following day. Here’s the recipe I use from the Food Network:
What You’ll Need:
1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup of sugar
1 strip of orange zest
Empty a 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries into a saucepan and transfer 1/2 cup to a small bowl. Add 1 cup sugar, 1 strip orange or lemon zest and 2 tablespoons water to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the reserved cranberries. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste and cool to room temperature before serving.
Get the entire cranberry sauce recipe.