Cookbook author Nik Sharma joins Evan Kleiman to prep for Thanksgiving

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Guest host Nik Sharma strategizes Thanksgiving prep and best practices with Good Food's Evan Kleiman. Photo by Nik Sharma.

People are either excited or terrified by Thanksgiving, so Good Food recruited Nik Sharma to help you tackle the big day.

With dreams of becoming a molecular geneticist, Nik Sharma arrived in Cincinnati from Bombay with two pieces of luggage, a pressure cooker, and a knife. As a result of his mother's distaste for being in the kitchen, Nik had already learned to cook. He recalls going through her cookbooks and newspaper clippings back in India, when he was left home alone. Sharma's grandmother got him involved in the kitchen, chopping vegetables and doing small tasks. While his parents discouraged culinary school, he continued to cook and eventually started a blog while living in Washington, D.C. He is the author of three cookbooks — The Flavor Equation, Season and, most recently, Veg-Table.

"Veg-table" concentrates on making produce the focus of the meal. Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books.

Getting ahead of the holidays requires reading recipes before you start cooking and planning how you'll use the oven, says Sharma. Make whatever you can, in advance. For example, you can prepare that sweet potato casserole the day before then reheat and brown the marshmallows just before serving. There should be no shame in chopping, prepping, and freezing ingredients in advance to save time. Worse case scenario, says Sharma, ask your guests to help: "I feel that Thanksgiving is one of those things that is supposed to be a communal meal, a family meal."

Evan Kleiman suggests spatchcocking a turkey to optimize oven space and getting maximum oven use when the turkey is resting. Also, make desserts ahead of Thursday to check one thing off the list.