Are you ready for Thanks­giv­ing? Gob­ble up these time-sav­ing tips.

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Emily Ryan

Stress less this Tur­key Day with some help from the pros. Area chefs an­swer the ques­tion on ev­ery home cook’s mind: How do you make Thanks­giv­ing eas­ier?

“Thanks­giv­ing din­ner can be very over­whelm­ing, es­pe­cially if you are host­ing a large crowd,” de­scribed Chris Welsh, ex­ec­u­tive chef and owner of The Se­cret In­gre­di­ent Per­sonal Chef Ser­vice in Wayne. “I make it eas­ier by prep­ping as much ahead of time as pos­si­ble.”

Think pregame mashed pota­toes, stuff­ing and cran­berry sauce. Or for a some­thing new, try her cran­berry green beans. They’re a snap! (Pun in­tended.) Now let’s talk tur­key. “Make the tur­key prepa­ra­tion eas­ier by hav­ing a butcher cut your tur­key into pieces,” she sug­gested. “Roast the dark and white meat sep­a­rately.”

But what about stuff­ing? “You can even put stuff­ing un­derneath the pieces if you wish,” Welsh added. “The tur­key will take less than half the time this way, and carv­ing will be a ‘piece of cake.’”

An­other time-saver: “If some­one of­fers to bring some­thing, let them,” urged Michael Fal­cone, chef-owner of Heart Food Truck. “Also use the Crock­Pot if needed or even your out­door grill. Your grill has a lot of cook­ing sur­face that could be used for pans of vegeta­bles.”

As for serv­ing those sides, grab a note­book.

“When you get ideas to serve and how to cook, present and stage your food whether it’s ap­pe­tiz­ers, en­trées or dessert, write them down,” ad­vised Tim Smith, for­mer founder, owner and ex­ec­u­tive chef at Twelves Grill & Cafe in West Grove. “Draw di­a­grams. Keep them for you to ex­pand on and to help or­ga­nize your cook­ing and en­ter­tain­ing ac­cu­rately.”

He shared his recipe for crispy baked por­to­bello fries with spicy sriracha aioli, a “non­tra­di­tional side dish that is great for the hol­i­days.”

And speak­ing of sriracha, Ge­orge Bieber, chefowner of Shorty’s Sun­flower Cafe in Pottstown, com­bines it with maple syrup and ba­con for a cauliflower dish that won’t dis­ap­point.

How­ever, to re­ally make life easy this Thanks­giv­ing, “or­der take­out,” he joked. “But if that isn’t an op­tion, keep the menu sim­ple: tur­key, gravy, stuff­ing and just two of your fa­vorite vegeta­bles.”

And “save room for dessert.”

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

In­stead of roast­ing a whole tur­key, a butcher can cut it into pieces for faster cook­ing.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF TIM SMITH

Ex­ec­u­tive chef Tim Smith shared his recipe for crispy baked por­to­bello fries.

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

Crowded stove­top? Reach for a Crock-Pot or fire up the grill.

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

“Set your ta­ble a day or two be­fore­hand,” says ex­ec­u­tive chef Chris Welsh.

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

Pick up some Spring Mill herb bread for a clas­sic stuff­ing.

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

Cran­berry sauce is an­other sim­ple side to pre­pare in ad­vance.

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

Make-ahead mashed pota­toes help ease the last­minute rush.

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