For the last 18 years we have spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family in Ohio, so I have not made a Thanksgiving dinner since 1992.  And, truth be told, I wouldn’t have been very good at it back then anyway.

To make up for not getting to make this classic meal in November, I make it for Christmas.  Despite family protests (they like a set menu, bless their non-adventurous hearts) I’ve tried new things, some of them successful, some not and arrived at what is for us the Definitive Menu.  The only thing I vary is the dessert.  Lately I’ve been fond of pecan pie, mostly because I can make it ahead and freeze it, then just set out to come to room temp. on the big day.

So if you’re still searching for a reliable gravy, or a class stuffing (with no “weird stuff” in it), or want to make your own crescent rolls this year, I think I can hook you up.  We all love all of these dishes but if I had to pick a favorite I would chose the Green Bean Casserole.  In this recipe it’s liberated from its condensed-soup origins but, hallelujah, you still get to have the French’s Fried Onions on top! With one exception, these are all Cook’s Illustrated recipes because this is absolutely what Cook’s excels at: classic American food at its very best.

Feel free to pick and chose and I’ve even given you my tried-and-true schedule.  All in the spirit of thankfulness.  You’re welcome. 

The Schedule For Thanksgiving (or Christmas)

Monday of Thanksgiving week (or Dec. 22)
Begin Crescent Rolls

Tuesday (or Dec. 23)
Cut up bread for stuffing and set out to air-dry
Make Cranberries with Cider and Cinnamon
Make Maple Pecan Pie (but don’t use the crust in the recipe; use your own favorite pie crust, preferably all-butter)
Continue Crescent Rolls

Wednesday (or Dec. 24)
12:00 p.m.: Begin Roast Stuffed Crisped-Skin Turkey by putting turkey in brine
Par-bake Crescent Rolls
Make Classic Bread Stuffing for a Crowd
Make Classic Green Bean Casserole
4:30: remove turkey from brine and air-dry (I almost always remember to do this halfway through the Christmas Eve Eucharist)
Begin Best Turkey Gravy (steps 1-3)

Thursday morning (or Dec. 25):
11:00 turkey in oven/might want to take your shower now
12:00: reduce oven temp. to 250 (is it too early to drink?  Does it count as drinking alone if you have a 20-lb. fowl nearby?)
Make Holiday Potato Casserole with Garlic, Gouda and Thyme
2:00: flip turkey/put Potato Casserole in oven/continue Gravy steps 4-6
3:30: turkey out of oven (be careful of Bumpus Hounds)/finish baking Crescent Rolls/finish Gravy/put Green Bean Casserole in oven (it’s certainly a civilized time to drink now!)
4:00: carve turkey and EAT!
5:30 put on any tent-like clothing you may have and enjoy your well-earned food coma