The Holiday Meal Ina Garten Loves To Cook Every Year

If you watch Ina Garten's Food Network show, "Barefoot Contessa," you may wind up with the impression that every day is a "Holiday Chez Garten." She does love her entertaining, after all, and even when it's just her and her husband, Jeffrey Garten, the two of them appear to be living in the lap of luxury at their East Hamptons home. While she did admit to People that she struggled a bit during the early quarantine days when she found herself having to rough it out with the pantry staples she had on hand, anyone who once ran a gourmet grocery store isn't exactly going to be slumming it with boxed mac and cheese.

Luckily, those dark days are over and Garten can once again enjoy throwing those dinner parties she's so fond of. In fact, we bet she's already well underway with planning the menu and making the preparations for her most beloved holiday of all, which is less than three months away. As she once shared with the Food Network, Thanksgiving is "my favorite meal to make each year." So, after holding a mini-celebration last year, she just might do things up bigger and better than ever.

Ina Garten says Thanksgiving dinner is best when made in advance

Garten's top tip for Thanksgiving dinner is to do as much work as possible in advance. While she once told Food Network, "For years I believed that food was better if you made it right before you ate it," she eventually learned that prepping ahead of time allowed her to relax and enjoy the occasion. As she advised, one can make their turkey gravy up to three months ahead of time and freeze it. You can also time the turkey itself so it finishes cooking well before dinner time. Slice the meat and arrange it atop the gravy, then leave it out on the counter for up to an hour. When it's time to serve the bird, simply reheat it in the oven.

Garten's favorite Thanksgiving sides include butternut squash and baked farro with bacon and parmesan, leek and artichoke bread pudding, and mashed potatoes with goat cheese. All these dishes can be prepared several days in advance, then baked right before serving. Her lemon-ginger molasses cake, which makes for a refreshing alternative to pumpkin pie, can also be cooked a day in advance. And, speaking of whipped cream prep, Garten said, "If you add just a little creme fraiche to stabilize the whipped cream, you can make it a few hours ahead."