A Make-Ahead Feast: Ina Garten's Thanksgiving Menu

The Barefoot Contessa shows us how to prepare the whole meal ahead of time — even the turkey!

Photo By: Jake Chessum

Photo By: Johnny Miller

Photo By: Johnny Miller

Photo By: Johnny Miller

Photo By: Johnny Miller

Photo By: Johnny Miller

Photo By: Johnny Miller

A funny thing happened the first time Ina made a big meal in advance: She actually had time to talk to guests when they arrived. "People started coming in, and I had nothing to do. It was so strange!" she says. Ina admits that she hasn't always been smart about early prep for Thanksgiving, but in her just-released book, Make It Ahead, she mastered the art.

"For years I believed that food was better if you made it right before you ate it," she says. "I had to force myself to start doing things differently." This ingeniously planned meal tastes amazing, and better yet, it will free you from the kitchen at just the right time: cocktail hour.

Make-Ahead Roast Turkey and Gravy

You make the gravy base and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months. "No one wants to stand around hoping their gravy won't be lumpy at the moment the turkey comes out of the oven. With this recipe, that will never happen!" says Ina. Roast and slice the turkey and assemble it on the gravy. Cover and leave at room temperature for up to 1 hour before reheating in the oven.

 

Get the Recipe: Roast Turkey and Gravy with Onions and Sage

Baked Farro and Butternut Squash

"This is a recipe from California chef Maria Sinskey," shares Ina. "The flavors and textures are amazing." Assemble the dish, including the bacon and parmesan, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bake before serving.

 

Get the Recipe: Baked Farro and Butternut Squash

Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding

Assemble the 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

Prepare the cake, wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Garnish with whipped cream, ginger and lemon zest. Ina's tip for the whipped cream: "If you add just a little creme fraiche to stabilize the whipped cream, you can make it a few hours ahead."

Get the Recipe: Lemon-Ginger Molasses Cake with Whipped Cream