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Wall Street Journal
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How to Keep Your Cool While Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

When you’re responsible for the holiday feast, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  Keep calm and baste on with recipes for turkey and all the fixings, plus a ‘Countdown to Thanksgiving’ game plan that will keep your meal preparation right on schedule

Linda Pugliese for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Heather Meldrom, Prop Styling by Stephanie Hanes

THE PROSPECT OF preparing Thanksgiving dinner can be enough to provoke dreams of defection to a faraway land.  It seems almost punitive that the feast should fall on the fourth Thursday of November—mid-workweek, in an already-way-too-busy season.  How to get through it without feeling the opposite of thankful?

First off, make use of your loved ones.  I cook the turkey, gravy, stuffing and a couple of sides and encourage (or assign) guests to bring the rest:  appetizers, salads, more sides, the requisite profusion of desserts.

Beyond that, it’s all about timing.  Simply stick to the game plan laid out here, and you’ll produce a grand spread right on schedule, even if you have to spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the office.

The menu that follows is largely traditional, with a few smart tweaks:  cornbread stuffing run through with ribbons of chard, chorizo and smoked paprika; cauliflower steaks scattered with crisped capers; a cardamom-spiced sweet potato gratin that will forever banish candied yams from your table.

When it comes to the turkey, a dry brine of salt and herbs rubbed all over the bird a couple of days in advance will produce succulent, flavorful results.  And basting with Madeira butter makes for perfectly crisp, golden skin.

We’ve even built in breaks for a glass of wine here, a little football watching there.  Because isn’t this supposed to be a holiday for you, too?

Countdown to Thanksgiving

The secret to a successful holiday meal?  Pace yourself.  Here’s your game plan for pulling off all the recipes here.

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Recipe:  Dry-Brined Roast Turkey Illustration by Kagan McLeod
Illustrations by Kagan McLeod
 
Illustrations by Kagan McLeod
 
Illustrations by Kagan McLeod
 

Turkey and All the Fixings (and Then Some)

The recipes below will yield a bang-up holiday buffet, but you shouldn’t hesitate to ask your guests to contribute, too. They can find everything from seasonal cocktails to festive pies in our collection of seasonal recipes

Clockwise from top: Dry-Brined Roast Turkey, Cornbread Stuffing With Wilted Greens and Chorizo, Caramelized Cauliflower Steaks With Crisped Capers, Cardamom-Spiced Sweet Potato Gratin
Clockwise from top:  Dry-Brined Roast Turkey, Cornbread Stuffing With Wilted Greens and Chorizo, Caramelized Cauliflower Steaks With Crisped Capers, Cardamom-Spiced Sweet Potato Gratin Linda Pugliese for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Heather Meldrom, Prop Styling by Stephanie Hanes

For WSJ+ Subscribers

WSJ+ Members can download a specially packaged Thanksgiving Recipe Guide here with these dishes plus bonus recipes.