Me, I love the controlled chaos of making a slightly too elaborate Thanksgiving dinner. Watson finds it a little nerve-wracking, though more in concept than in execution, so we tussle over how much to make, when, and in what. We wind up with less than what I want (no soup this year!) and more than what she finds necessary. (I prevailed on making rolls.)
Here's what we whipped up this year for us and her parents:
Caveny Farm Smoked Turkey
Brown Bread Stuffing with Chestnuts, Apples, and Sausage (Aida Mollenkamp)
Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Cooks Illustrated)
Roasted Mushroom and Barley Gravy (Gourmet)
Brussels Sprouts with Maple Butter (Annie Sommerville)
Butternut Squash Gratin (Lee Bros.)
Wild Rice Rolls (Beth Hensperger)
Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Zinfandel (Epicurious.com)
Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie (Lee Bros.)
Redemption Hazelnut Pie (Patty Pinner)
Swiss Gourmet Egg Nog Ice Cream
There are a few keys to having a pleasantly busy Thanksgiving Day: (1) Make the pies ahead. This is so obvious I shouldn't have to mention it. (2) Buy a smoked turkey. It's delicious, and there's nothing to do but let it come to room temperature. It slices more easily, too. (3) Back out a schedule: start with your desired dinner time, then sit down with each recipe and work backward, leaving generous amounts of time for chopping, blanching, etc. This will never turn out perfectly in its first draft, mainly because you need to adjust for the limitations of space—in our case, one oven and four burners. And that oven, of course, can only be at one temperature at a time. Still, take the time to refine it, and you might be amazed at how much easier the day gets: chop this now; sauté that next, then punch down the rolls, etc. We aimed for 4:00 and with the exception of the squash gratin, which could have used at least a few more minutes than the recipe indicated, everything was on the table at 4:01.
Now, of course, we have far more leftovers than any two people can happily account for; so if you need some pie, come on over.