What to Cook This Week

Some tips for thawing turkey and a road map for meals that aren’t Thanksgiving-themed.

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By Sam Sifton

Good morning. This is a big day for Thanksgiving preparations, if you don’t want to make like me and Melissa Clark, who once on a dare cooked the whole meal in a single eight-hour push.

There’s shopping to do: the wine you’ll be drinking; sparkling cider for the children; a bottle of brown liquor for afterward, if you like. Maybe some containers for sending guests home with leftovers? Perhaps a new oval platter for the turkey, to replace the one that’s chipped or the one you’ve never owned? Also: the potatoes you’ll need for mashing or assembling into gratins; the butternut squash; the onions; the sweet potatoes; the turkey itself.

Which maybe is still frozen? It’s time to start thinking about what it’s going to take to get it thawed in time for brining, for roasting, for spatchcocking, for frying. Here’s the straight dope: A frozen turkey thaws in the refrigerator at a rate of 4 or 5 pounds every 24 hours. You can speed that along a little by putting the plastic-bagged bird in the sink and running cold water over it for a long time, but I don’t recommend it. Just load the thing into the fridge and allow time to do its work. You’ve got four days until the holiday — you’re good.

You can start your cooking today as well — cranberry sauce, for instance, will keep in the fridge until you need it, and pie crust can go in the freezer until just before you need it. Thaw it in the fridge as you would a tiny turkey, overnight.

And make a few plans while you’re at it for meals next week that aren’t Thanksgiving-themed, at least until Thursday comes and the start of leftover season right after it. (I cannot wait, for example, for my Friday leftovers sandwich.)

Tonight, if you can manage it, would be great for stew chicken and some rice cooked with coconut milk. Sunday dinner!

Monday, how about creamy grits with mushrooms and chard?

I like these mushroom tacos for Tuesday.

And I love the idea of tuna poke for the final dinner before the feast, served over sushi rice and under a spray of sesame seeds.

As for Thanksgiving itself, I’d like to encourage you to make one dish this year that you haven’t made before. Samin Nosrat outlined some great choices in that regard, so pick one or more: brussels sprouts in saor, say; or chicory salad with pears, blue cheese and a secret anchovy vinaigrette; cilantro-date chutney; fried sage salsa verde; an herby shallot and bread crumb crunch (above) to sprinkle over gratins or mac and cheese.

And don’t sleep on Yewande Komolafe’s latest, either: A lemon buttermilk chess pie with black pepper crust could be just the thing to take your Thanksgiving over the top.

Many thousands more recipes for Thanksgiving and for the rest of this week await you on New York Times Cooking. Yes, you need a subscription in order to access them. Subscriptions support our work and allow is to continue. Won’t you please, if you haven’t already, subscribe today? Thank you!

As always, we are waiting in the wings, in case something goes wrong on your kitchen stage or if you get jammed up by our technology. Just write [email protected] and someone will get back to you. Or you can reach me directly at [email protected] I can’t respond to everyone. But I read every letter sent.

Now, did you see Padma Lakshmi’s recipe for slow-roasted turkey with apple gravy the other day? We made a fine video about its preparation with her, and it’s on our YouTube channel for your enjoyment.

It has nothing to do with cakes or ale, but what do make of this business of Jellycat obsession?

Two new poems from Paul Batchelor in the London Review of Books. I really like the second one, “The Well.”

Finally, here’s Kayhan Kalhor and Toumani Diabaté playing live at the Morgenland Festival in Germany, 2017, meditative and awesome. Good music for cooking. I’ll be back on Monday.

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