My kitchen is positioned in the center of our home. No walls separate it from the living or dining room (right click on photograph for an expanded view). I love the views, the bright and open space and the accessibility it gives me to visitors in our home. I'm not shy about cooking in front of others - truth be told, I'm a real ham - but there are certain dishes I like to prepare before my guests arrive so they can be spared the noise of appliances and the unsightly mess of dirty pans. Today's recipes are some of the make-aheads I prepare for our Thanksgiving dinner. I hope you'll be able to use them as well.
Make-Ahead Swedish Potato and Rutabaga Casserole
2 pounds unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes
2 tablespoon salt, divided use
1 pound rutabagas, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
1 tablespoon softened butter
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1) Place the potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water; add 1 tablespoon salt to pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain, peel and mash the potatoes.
2) Meanwhile, place rutabagas in another large pan. Cover with water; add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash; add to potatoes. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and well combined. Add flour, eggs and milk. Beat until smooth. Taste for salt; adjust with reserved 1 teaspoon salt as required.
3) Butter a shallow 3-quart casserole. Spoon potatoes into casserole; dot with butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
4) When ready to cook bring casserole to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until very lightly browned. Yield: 12 servings.
Cook's Note: Potato casserole can be assembled the day before serving.
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
5 pounds waxy potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
1-1/2 cups reduced fat sour cream
5 tablespoons butter, divided use
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1) Place potatoes in a large pan. Cover with water; add 1 teaspoon salt per quart of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Put potatoes through a ricer and scape into a large bowl. Add sour cream, butter, salt and pepper. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
2) Butter a 3-quart casserole; add potato mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.
3) Bring casserole to room temperature. Preheat oven to 325 degree F. Bake, covered, for 1 hour. Toss breadcrumbs with reserved 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle over surface of potatoes. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Yield: 12 to 14 servings.
Cook's Note: Potatoes can be assembled the day before serving.
Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
4 turkey wings (about 3 pounds)
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup water
8 cups chicken broth, divided use
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange wings in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Scatter onions over wings. Roast, uncovered, for 1-1/4 hours, or until wings are brown.
2) Place wings and onions in a 5-to-6 quart pot. Pour water in roasting pan and stir, scraping up brown bits from bottom. Add to pot with wings and onions. Add 6 cups broth (refrigerate remaining 2 cups), carrot and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours.
3) Remove wings to cutting board. When cool, pull off skin and meat. Discard skin; save meat for another use.
4) Strain broth into a large container, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables; refrigerate broth and allow fat to rise to top. Skim off fat. Transfer broth to 3 quart pot and set on stove.
5) In a bowl, whisk flour into remaining 2 cups broth until blended and smooth. Bring broth in pot to a gentle boil. Whisk in broth-flour mixture and boil 3 to 4 minutes to thicken gravy and remove floury taste. Stir in butter and pepper. Serve or pour into containers; refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 6 months. Yield: 8 cups.
Cook's Note: This recipe has appeared in Farm Journal and Woman's Day magazine.