Your Thanksgiving Meal Prep Questions, Answered : The Salt Bon Appétit magazine Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport answers your questions about Thanksgiving menu planning, including Tofurky-free dishes for vegetarians and "boozy" bird recipes.
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Your Thanksgiving Meal Prep Questions, Answered

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Your Thanksgiving Meal Prep Questions, Answered

Your Thanksgiving Meal Prep Questions, Answered

Your Thanksgiving Meal Prep Questions, Answered

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/565461238/565599408" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table? Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appétit, suggests making Hasselback butternut squash. Find the recipe here. Bobbi Lin/Bon Appétit hide caption

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Bobbi Lin/Bon Appétit

Vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table? Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appétit, suggests making Hasselback butternut squash. Find the recipe here.

Bobbi Lin/Bon Appétit

Thanksgiving is on Thursday. If you're hosting this year, are you ready?

For some, menu planning and turkey and sides cooking won't involve breaking a sweat. For the rest of us, the next two days may be fueled by anxiety — with maybe a pinch of panic.

Even Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appétit, has his own Thanksgiving meal prep horror story. He tells NPR's David Greene a few years ago, he hosted Thanksgiving for the first time, and after putting the turkey in the oven, he adjusted the temperature — only to realize an hour and a half later he had instead turned it off.

"So we all sat down to dinner a lot later than planned," he says.

A few weeks ago, Morning Edition asked you for Thanksgiving meal prep questions: What would help you get ready for Thanksgiving free of stirred-up stress? And as promised, here are some answers.

"How do I pull this off?" — Sarah Smith from Wakefield, RI

Smith is hosting 27 adults — plus she has a newborn baby and toddler. As if that wasn't enough: She has never cooked a turkey, this is her first time hosting Thanksgiving and she doesn't eat turkey.

Rapoport has two tips:

  • Ask for help — and be specific. If you want guests to bring wine, tell them what type of wine. Designate, for example, a dessert person or a macaroni and cheese person. He says: You are the general, so take charge. It's more about execution than it is about cooking at the end of the day.
  • Not everything needs to be hot. The one thing that needs to be hot — and that you need a lot of — is gravy, he says, adding: If you have good, hot gravy, that makes everything better.

"What should I serve as a vegan main course option?" — Ginny Mumm from Irvine, Calif.

Mumm's husband and father recently switched to a plant-based diet, and for Thanksgiving, they've requested a delicious meal free of Tofurky. That's no knock on the popular wheat protein and tofu roast. "It's a little too prepared," Mumm says. "They want more plain ingredients with a lot of flavor."

Rapoport offers two suggestions.

Hasselback butternut squash

For this dish, halve a butternut squash length-wise, scoop out the seeds, peel it, roast it, then take a knife and make thin, vertical slices so it looks like an accordion. Tuck in some bay leaves and seasoning, then brush it with maple glaze — with a kick of Fresno chiles — and then roast it.

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"It comes out looking shellacked and crispy. It will be the most beautiful dish on the Thanksgiving table," Rapoport says. "And all the non-vegetarians will be jealous of it."

Find the recipe here.

Kale and Brussels sprouts salad

Looking for more dishes for non-meat eaters? Try kale and Brussels sprouts salad. Find the recipe here. Christopher Testani/Bon Appétit hide caption

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Christopher Testani/Bon Appétit

Looking for more dishes for non-meat eaters? Try kale and Brussels sprouts salad. Find the recipe here.

Christopher Testani/Bon Appétit

This dish includes shaved raw Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced kale, chopped almonds and a lemon vinaigrette.

"It's so nice to have something on the table that is raw and crisp and embracing, to sort of counteract all that rich, buttery mashed potatoes and stuffing and gravy and whatnot," he says. "[It's] something I've made every year for the past six years and I swear by it."

Find the recipe here.

"I've had a lot of turkeys a lot of different ways — fried, smoked, brined. Are there any "boozy birds" that are cooked in alcohol?" — Michael Radcliffe, news assistant at Morning Edition, Los Angeles

Looking to booze up your bird? Try braising the dark meat in white wine and turkey stock. Find the recipe here. Marcus Nilsson/Bon Appétit hide caption

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Marcus Nilsson/Bon Appétit

Looking to booze up your bird? Try braising the dark meat in white wine and turkey stock. Find the recipe here.

Marcus Nilsson/Bon Appétit

Last year Rapoport braised his turkey's dark meat — the legs and thighs — in white wine and turkey stock.

He browned the pieces in a Dutch oven, took them out, then sauted onions and carrots and celery, added the meat back along with wine and turkey stock, then cooked it covered in the oven until the meat got fall-apart tender. Finally, he put the dish in the broiler so it got crispy and crunchy on the outside.

"You kind of almost pull the meat apart and shred it and put it on a platter and spoon all that wonderful juice all over it," he says. "It was by far the best thing I ate all Thanksgiving."

Find the recipe here.

Justin Richmond (@JustJRichmond) is a production assistant at Morning Edition.

Morning Edition editor Arezou Rezvani contributed to this story.

Correction Nov. 21, 2017

Adam Rapoport's surname was previously misspelled as Rappaport in one instance in this story.