By the time Thanksgiving week rolls around, the game plan, for the most part will be fully mapped out. The menu will have been tweaked and retweaked to reflect just the right amount of tradition (Grandma Jody’s herb-roasted turkey, mashed potatoes) and adventure (maple buttermilk custard pie!); the duties will have been divvied up among aunts and uncles. Anything that can be done in advance—grocery shopping, pie crust making, bourbon stocking—will be done in advance. When we wake up on the last Thursday in November, we will be totally, 100 percent ready to rock.
And then we remember the last Wednesday in November—also known as Thanksgiving Eve, also known as Oh, Sh-t, We Have 14 People Standing Around the Kitchen, Half of Them Starving Kids, and We Forgot We’re Responsible for Feeding Them.
On Thanksgiving Eve, we at least know what we don’t want to make. We don’t want to make poultry. We don’t want to make anything that requires a bunch of pots and pans or taps into the precious reserve of psychic energy we need for Thanksgiving. We don’t want to order pizza, which just feels wrong. And above all, we don’t want something heavy. That’s what the next day is all about.
It’s like this: On the night before a championship bout, did Muhammad Ali go out and pick a bar fight? The night before performing in The Marriage of Figaro, does the diva practice her primal screams? The night before the food-lover’s Olympics, do we make a 20-ingredient paella? No. We rest, we get our heads together, we create optimum conditions for the main event.
So this year we’re doing salmon en papillote, which only sounds complicated. Here, everyone can customize what vegetables go into her parchment paper–wrapped fish packet (Kale? Spinach? Thinly sliced potatoes?) before drizzling (or not) the horseradish dill sauce on top after the whole thing has cooked. It’s fresh and light, and best of all, there is minimal cleanup—only a baking sheet or two. For that, we give thanks.
This is our “Providers” column for the November issue of Bon Appetit. Head over to their site for the salmon in parchment paper recipe.
Related: Thanksgiving Eve 2012
Husband used to deliver pizza years ago, and the eve of Thanksgiving was always the most lucrative night. People aren’t ordering because they’re tired or lazy, they’re ordering because they don’t have room in the fridge or space on the counter for one more meal! The tips were always especially generous too 🙂
Traditionally I have always slopped together pasta with jazzed-up jarred sauce, but I love the idea of salmon with a completely different and light flavor profile, and the ease of cleanup. Lovely.
We were always like this on Christmas Eve (oddly, I can’t remember Thanksgiving Eve too much), something super simple while parents furtively rushed around finishing up “Santa’s” duties. Then an all day food fest on Christmas proper!
This looks delicious, and is a perfect meal to precede the next day’s feast.
Love salmon en papillote. I like to put a slice of lemon, sliced leeks and shiitake mushrooms and dill in mine.
On Thanksgiving eve night I dont want to make anything! If I havent thrown something in the crockpot (always a good choice in my book) in the morning, I’d be just as happy with a PB&J sandwich….as long as I could wash it down with a glass of wine and put my feet up!
Perfect. While I have it easy and am not slaving away in my kitchen on Thanksgiving Eve something light is a MUST…!
Love this!!! Brilliant!
This looks great – but one question – what temperature should the oven be at? I always overcook/undercook salmon.
My mom and my aunt used to trade off Weds and Thurs. Six years ago, when we bought our first house, I claimed Weds night. I call it “Pregiving” (vs. Tgiving) and I do a bunch of big zitis or lasagnas plus salads, hors d’oeuvres and desserts for the 18-26ppl who travel to our area for Tgiving at my parents’ house. I’m not ready to sign up for the big day but this feels big enough! It’s one of my favorite and happiest parts of the holiday season … the “stress-free” night before Thanksgiving, everyone gathering around ready to celebrate and officially kick off the holidays!
This sounds delicious! #newslettergiveaway
So true. You always forget the basic things like meal prep for a normal day when you’re crazy prepping for a big day. #newslettergiveaway
What a great idea – we usually end up going out for chinese and then can’t do leftovers… this is way better! #newslettergiveaway
The best part of being a Canadian married to an American – two thanksgivings!#newslettergiveaway
I am so making this next Wednesday — genius! #newslettergiveaway
thanks so much- great idea/recipe!
Love this idea but hate the rolls of parchment paper that always curl up and you never seem to cut the right amount… Do you know where I can get flat sheets of parchment paper or suggestions for a good workaround? #newslettergiveaway
#newslettergiveaway can’t wait to make the maple custard pie!
Still working on our game plan. Thanks for the pre-game day idea. #newslettergiveaway
Any tips for avoiding the white stuff (albumen?) that appears when you cook salmon? I just scrape it off when cooking for my husband and myself but it keeps me from preparing for guests. #newslettergiveaway
I would be totally interested to hear your Thanksgiving Eve dinner diary history! Although it would be hard to beat this one, so light and bright!
My family always did pizza on the night before Thanksgiving – no cooking, usually no leftovers for the fridge!