In an effort to make Thanksgiving easier this year (yes, the eternal quest), I decided to mess with a couple recipes, make them more user-friendly, and pass them on to you. First off, the mashed potatoes. Ever since I learned to make glorious smashed potatoes to order at Al Forno restaurant many years ago, I have been stuck on the idea of serving freshly mashed potatoes.

But what if I made them ahead, put them in a casserole dish just like my mother did, and held them overnight? Would it be so bad? I decided to give it a try. I took my Creamy Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes, scaled up the recipe, added a bit more heavy cream and gruyere cheese, and refrigerated them in the baking dish. The next day I topped with Parmigiano, popped in a 375 oven for 30 minutes (which you could do after the turkey comes out of the oven and while it rests), and garnished with caramelized shallots and chives. Delicious and successful.

There’s no doubt you lose a soupçon of smooth texture by cooling and reheating mashed potatoes. But these Make-Ahead Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes with Gruyere & Shallots were still plenty moist, and the added flavor from the cheese and shallots was a nice boost.

Susie Middleton

Next I decided to add sweet potatoes to my repertoire of gussied-up quick-roasted vegetables that are designed (like that potato casserole) to go in the oven after the turkey comes out. To make Quick-Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges with Blackberry-Lime Butter, I stole the flavors and colors from my Kale Salad with Sweet Potato Fries and Blackberry-Lime Dressing.

But instead of fries, I cut the sweet potatoes into wedges; instead of a vinaigrette, a blackberry-lime butter was the finishing touch. Serving the caramelized sweet potato wedges on a bed of baby kale is a swell presentation, and you can pretend that you have a salad on the table!

Turnips, Alison Shaw; all others, Susie Middleton

The other Thanksgiving-worthy quick-roasted vegetables in our repertoire are Maple, Vanilla and Cardamom Glazed Squash Rings; Roasted Turnips and Pears with Rosemary-Honey Drizzle; and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange-Balsamic Butter Sauce. You could also make two sheet trays of this Quick-Roasted Root Medley, and dress the roots with any of the butters or sauces in the other recipes.

Staying in the HOV lane, here’s a Simple Roast Turkey with Pan Gravy recipe. Or if you’re only two or three, you could go even faster with roast chicken. Try Simple Roast Chicken with Pan Gravy or Lemon Herb Sauce or Roast Chicken with Pan-Roasted Vegetables.

Susie Middleton

For something a little more ambitious, try Michael Brisson’s Roasted Turkey with Apple Cider Thyme Gravy.

Ben Fink

Need a straightforward stuffing recipe that cooks outside of the bird? I like Tina Miller’s Vineyard Stuffing with Shiitake Mushrooms and Leeks.

Jeanna Shepard

Simple appetizers? Michael Brisson’s Spiced Pecans, definitely. Or Tangerine-Thyme Marinated Olives.

Nuts: Ben Fink; all others: Susie Middleton

For some Vineyarders, it’s not Thanksgiving without Oysters on the Half Shell. A batch of these Littlenecks with Spicy Garlic Oil and Spinach would do the trick, too.

Instead of green bean casserole, try Slow-Sauteed Green Beans with Bacon and Peppers. These can be made ahead and reheated; you might want to make a double batch in two pans.

Susie Middleton

For dessert, perhaps not so simple but definitely make-ahead: A Cranberry Ginger Galette or a Cranberry Tart with Walnut Streusel.

Susie Middleton, Gabriela Herman

Or make your own custom fruit pie with Pie Chicks owner Chrissy Kinsman’s flexible recipe.

Elizabeth Cecil

Flexible is good! In fact stretching or yoga before cooking Thanksgiving dinner is advisable. Most importantly, reach out for lots of help.

We’ll offer some last-minute encouragement next week, and in the meantime, check out Thanksgiving Central for more ideas, and we’ll see you on Instagram @cookthevineyard. Be sure to follow us if you haven't already.

Ben Fink



Visit Cook the Vineyard's Thanksgiving Central 2022 to find recipes, sources, places to pre-order Thanksgiving items to go, and restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner.