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According to Anthony Bourdain, the key to a relatively easy, smooth-running, violence-free Thanksgiving is to adopt the following three-day strategy.
In the morning (or the week before Thanksgiving), buy everything you’ll need, store it in an organized fashion and cross-check it against your recipes to make sure there isn’t anything you’ve forgotten. You’ll want both a small “stunt turkey” and a large “business turkey,” which, if frozen, will require defrosting immediately.
Make your stock. This means buying a separate bag of wings and necks to prep the stock that will give the stuffing its essential turkey flavor and provide the base for what you probably call gravy but what is, in fact, a sauce.
Leave the bread out to get stale for stuffing.
Turn your turkey stock into turkey sauce or, if you must, “gravy.”
Assemble and bake the stuffing, covered, so that it doesn’t yet brown at all.
Make your cranberry relish and store it in a container in the fridge.
Knock out your side dish prep. Trim and halve your brussels sprouts, blanch and trim your baby onions, dice your slab bacon and scrub your potatoes. Label, group and refrigerate everything so you can quickly finish the side dishes tomorrow while the birds roast.
Roast the stunt turkey. This is the pretty one that you’ll display for your guests. Ready your garnishes and feel free to dress up the bird like a showgirl.
Finish your side dishes while the turkey roasts. Potatoes just need to be peeled. You can get everything done on the stovetop while the birds are cooking and hold the sides for quick reheating just before dinner.
Roast the business turkey, then dismantle it.
Jack your stuffing with turkey grease and brown it, uncovered, in a hot oven.
Display the stunt turkey in all its glory, which should elicit much oohing and aahing from your guests. Then whisk it into the kitchen, presumably to be carved.
In the relative privacy of your kitchen, pull out your business turkey, which is ready to slice, and get busy. No embarrassing or inept hacking at a whole turkey while your family looks on with horror. This bird is ready to serve.
Find Anthony Bourdain's complete Thanksgiving menu here.