December 8, 2022

Holiday Bread

While any bread is welcome at the holiday table, there is something particularly festive about a roll, especially for Thanksgiving. Both of the recipes below are no-knead, and each dough can be made ahead of time and stashed in the fridge until you are ready to bake. Video guidance is provided for each of these recipes.

On the left: No-knead Buttermilk Pull-Apart Rolls: slightly sweet, soft and squishy, these pull-apart rolls resemble Parker House rolls in both taste and texture. On the Right: No-Knead Thyme Dinner Rolls: buttery and crisp on the exterior and soft and tender on the interior. I love the flavor thyme imparts, but rosemary or sage or a combination of the three would be nice here. You can also omit the herbs entirely.

If making rolls is a page-turner for you, you could make a batch of this no-fuss focaccia. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s best made the day before and tucked in the fridge — on Thanksgiving morning, you would just let it rise at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours. You can bake it when the turkey is out of the oven.


Favorite Stuffing

A 9x13-inch pan filled with kale and caramelized onion stuffing.
Freezable Stuffing with Kale and Caramelized Onions

This kale and caramelized onion stuffing is a variation of the one in my cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs. After 45 minutes in the oven, it emerges with a crisp golden exterior and a creamy center, flavorful enough to eat on its own, but welcoming to many a relish, sauce, gravy, or anything else the Thanksgiving plate has to offer.

Know you can customize the seasonings and add-ins to your liking. Also: you can make it ahead and freeze it. See instructions in the post for how to freeze it.

I love the kale and caramelized onion version, but if you’re looking for a very classic stuffing, made with onions and celery, seasoned with Bell’s Seasoning, find that here:

Classic bread stuffing in a 9x13-inch baking dish.
A 9x13-inch pan covered in foil.
This stuffing freezes well!

Potato Gratin Two Ways

Alice Waters’s potato gratin is a dish my mother has served at nearly every big holiday gathering for as long as I can remember. It often steals the show no matter what it’s beside, turkey or otherwise.

It comes from Chez Panisse Vegetables, which offers a number of enticing combinations — potato with turnips or celery root or leeks or sweet potato — but we always use potatoes exclusively and keep the seasonings simple too: salt, pepper, thyme, and just a dash of freshly grated nutmeg. Submerged in a mixture of equal parts heavy cream and chicken stock, topped with a mixture of Gruyère and parmesan cheeses, these potatoes emerge irresistibly crispy on top and creamy underneath.

This year I’m going to welcome a second potato dish to the Thanksgiving table: this cheesy hasselback potato gratin, a recipe I’ve been eyeing for about a year now, one that did not disappoint when I gave it a spin last weekend.


cropped-herbymashedpotatoes_alexandraskitchen.jpg

Mashed Potatoes

If you are unfamiliar with Sally Schneider’s mashed potato recipe, let me tell you a little bit about it. True to many of Sally’s recipes, this one calls for very few enrichments, relying on big flavor ingredients and techniques instead.

In this recipe she uses buttermilk because it has a natural creaminess yet is far lower in fat than milk or cream. She also uses some of the reserved potato-cooking liquid to thin the mash as needed. And finally, only after the potatoes have absorbed the liquid, Sally adds a single tablespoon of butter. By adding the butter at the end, she says, “the butter stays on the surface of the potatoes, its flavor readily discernible, imparting a truly rich finish.”

Every time I make these potatoes I am astonished there is no cream and very little butter — they taste far richer than they actually are. 

In this buttermilk mashed potato recipe, you’ll find a few variations, including roasted garlic, which I love, and also spicy-scallion, which is my favorite: not only are these potatoes visually very appealing, they’re also just so darn tasty, creamy and tangy thanks to the buttermilk, and bright and spicy thanks to the herb-and-chili infused olive oil.


4 Holiday Sauces

All of the sauces below can be made in advance. Bring cranberry sauces and mustard sauce to room temperature several hours before serving, and bring the gravy to a gentle simmer before serving.

Cranberry Sauces

On the left: Sally Schneider’s Red Wine Cranberry Sauce (an old favorite, also delicious when made with Port). On the right: No-Cook Cranberry Relish (sweet, tart, orange-scented, and delicious).

Gravy & Mustard Sauce

On the left: Simple, Make-Ahead Gravy. What is especially nice about having gravy made before the bird is even roasted is the mental assurance that as soon as the bird is done, you can (after it rests) serve it without too much of a last-minute scramble. On the right: My Grandmother’s Mustard Sauce: We rarely make a ham for Thanksgiving, but if we do, we make my grandmother’s mustard sauce, affectionately known as the ham sauce!


Simple Salad

I love a simple green salad on Thanksgiving. Here are three favorite salad dressings, all of which keep for weeks in the fridge.


Other Sides

If you like the idea of a heartier side dish or if you’ve been enlisted to bring a side dish to your Thanksgiving gathering, there are four ideas and here are 25 More Thanksgiving Side Dishes.


Thanksgiving Desserts

Foolproof, Food Processor Pie Dough

One of the best ways you can get a jump start on your Thanksgiving preparations is to make your pie dough in advance. The recipe in the video above and in the recipe here, which includes instructions on how to parbake your pie dough yields two rounds. If you want to double it, I recommend measuring all of the ingredients and making two consecutive batches (no need to clean the food processor in between) as opposed to trying to make a double batch all at once. I use this recipe for all of my pies, tarts, galettes, etc.

Every Thanksgiving I make Ronnie Hollingsworth’s Most Excellent Squash Pie, which comes from Kristin Kimball’s, The Dirty Life, in which she writes: “Pumpkin shmumpkin, winter squash has more flavor and better texture.”

I couldn’t agree more. I also always make David Lebovitz’s no corn syrup bourbon pecan pie and some sort of apple tart, either this apple frangipane galette or this French apple tart. Sister Pie’s salted maple pie has become a recent favorite.