You need exactly enough food to ensure everyone falls asleep on the couch afterward.
While cooking is most certainly an art in itself, it could be said that cooking for Thanksgiving is a specific discipline of that art. It’s not just a matter of throwing things in the oven, at least if you’re doing it properly. You need to decide what your main dishes are, what sides you’re doing, your drinks and garnishes, and you need to time the cooking of all of them perfectly so everyone can sit down at five o’clock.
The select few chefs who dedicate their all to the art of Thanksgiving simultaneously awe me and terrify me. Just sticking the bird in the oven doesn’t cut it, no sir; you gotta do a three-day brine to get the ideal flavor, or you gotta fill up the drum outside in the cold to fry that sucker. Even something seemingly straightforward like a sweet potato casserole has layers upon layers of options and techniques. You need the right kind of spuds, you need the best brand of marshmallows; it’s honestly kind of dizzying.
If you want to see a real cutthroat Thanksgiving preparation, check out the BA Test Kitchen chefs try to assemble the ultimate Thanksgiving spread. It’s like watching poetry in motion. Kitchen poetry.