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Save time this holiday season with make-ahead dishes

Move over turkey and ham…. .the holiday SIDES are taking center stage for this year’s dinner party!

Valerie Vanderpool, Capital City Kitchen, shares her “tricks” for making the PERFECT stuffing…. AND… shares her recipes for “Make-ahead Thanksgiving sides.”Make-Ahead Thanksgiving SidesRustic Stuffing

(makes 8 servings)

1½ rustic baguette (or other rustic bread), cut in half, torn into 1.5-2″ pieces and left out to dry

2 sticks butter + more for buttering dish

4 stalks celery, medium dice

1 medium-large yellow onion, medium dice

1 medium-large fennel bulb, medium dice

2 teaspoons kosher salt (more if desired)

2 teaspoons fresh black pepper

½ cup dry vermouth or white wine

2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat parsley

3 large eggs

4-6 cups Powered-up broth**, divided

For Garnish:

More chopped parsley

Butter a large casserole dish (about 3 quarts), and have some plastic wrap + foil handy.

Place the bread chunks in a large bowl.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the celery, onion, fennel salt + pepper; sauté until it starts to become translucent and caramelized, stirring frequently. Add the vermouth or wine (making sure to scrape the brown bits up); reduce until it’s almost completely evaporated. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the sage and parsley over the top. Let it get cool enough to handle, then pour over the bread mixture.

While the vegetables are cooking, beat the eggs + 2 cups broth. Add to the bread mixture. Then with clean hands, gently mix together (you don’t want to smoosh or break up the bread), adding 2 more cups of the broth as you’re mixing. If the bread has absorbed all of the broth and it still looks like it could absorb more, add enough to make the bread full of liquid, but not so it’s falling apart and gloppy. Taste a little of it to see if it needs more salt or pepper.

Pour the mixture into your prepared casserole dish, cover with plastic wrap, then tightly cover with foil. Place it in the refrigerator over night. This will allow all of the flavors to mingle and make friends with each other. To cook, remove the casserole from the refrigerator 45 minutes before the baking time and let come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 30-45 minutes, so the top gets golden and crispy. If top starts to burn, tent with foil for the remainder of the baking time.

Remove from the oven and let sit, tented with foil, for 10-20 minutes before serving. Garnish with more chopped parsley.

**To make 1-1.5 quarts Powered-Up Broth: Pour 2 quarts regular broth from the box into a sauce pan and add the giblets from the turkey, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot, ½ medium onion, 1 bay leaf, a few parsley stalks, a pinch of kosher salt, 6 black peppercorns, and ½ lemon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until you have about 1-1.5 quarts of broth, depending how strong you’d like it.

Fresh Cranberry Relish

(makes 8 servings)

1 pound fresh cranberries, washed

2 tangerines, zested + juiced

2 teaspoons orange oil (optional, but delicious!)

1 large ripe pear, washed, cored and roughly chopped

¾-1 cup sugar

½ cup chopped roasted and salted pecans

Place cranberries, tangerine zest + juice, orange oil and pear into the cup of a food processor. Pulse until cranberries and pears are in small chunks, but not puréed. Scrape into a bowl, and gently stir in the sugar and pecans. Taste to see if you need to add any more sugar. It should taste sweet and not bitter, but don’t add too much sugar, as the cranberries will sweeten up a little over night once they mingle with the juice, pear and sugar.

Put in an air tight container and refrigerate over night. You can make this up to 2 days prior to serving.

Remove from the refrigerator and stir in the pecans right before you serve.

**Chef’s Note: This is awesome on toasted left over turkey sandwiches with mayo, butter lettuce, shaved red onion and gruyere cheese. NOMS!!

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