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Short orders for Feast Day

Get a grip before carving

Few holiday moments are as tricky as transferring the big bird from the roasting pan to the carving board. The bird is hot, the skin glistens, and while it may be delicious later, it's a messy task now. The cleverly designed nonstick Cuisipro roasting rack with handles ($19.95 to $29.95), which comes apart into two pieces, will eliminate your worries. You will not let the slippery bird fall anywhere but where it's supposed to. After roasting, use oven mits to lift the turkey with the rack onto a board or serving platter, then slide out the rack pin and slip out each half. This handsome and sturdy device will hold a Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham weighing up to 25 pounds. To accommodate the rack, your roasting pan should be at least 16-by-13-inches. The halves nest together for easy storage. Available at Crate & Barrel, 48 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-876-6300,; Kitchen Arts, 161 Newbury St., 617-266-8701,; and Kitchen Outfitters, 342 Great Road, Acton, 978-263-1955. -- DEBORAH KOPS

This pie's worth a shot

At Vicki Lee's in Belmont, many treasures await the Thanksgiving table, including a Jack Daniels pecan pie ($21), in which the nuts form a crunchy even layer over the traditional filling of butter, sugar, corn syrup, eggs, and that shot of sour-mash whiskey. The liquor adds kick, but not a boozy taste. The crust is a flaky and flavorful French pate brisee, made with lots of butter, of course, and a "speck of sugar and a pinch of salt," says owner and pastry chef Vicki Lee Boyajian. Three leaf pastry cut outs adorn the pie, making it a handsome offering for the dessert sideboard. Order by Saturday. But Boyajian always has lots on hand during the run-up to the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas, says Boyajian, are "the two busiest pie holidays of the year." Vicki Lee's, 105 Trapelo Road, Belmont, 617-489-5007, vickilee -- DEBRA SAMUELS

Turn page to get jump on meals

Diane Phillips takes the angst out of preparing holiday meals. Phillips, who has made a career out of do-ahead cooking, knows that recipes will only get you so far in pulling off a special meal. It's organization and what's done in advance that's important. In her latest book, "Happy Holidays from the Diva of Do-Ahead" (Harvard Common Press, $14.95) she offers menus, recipes, and game plans for 12 hassle-free occasions. For Thanksgiving, Phillips paves the way to a bountiful meal with a bird, old-fashioned stuffing, make-ahead mashed potatoes, cranberry-peach chutney, pumpkin bread pudding, and hot apple pie sundaes. How stressful can preparing a multi-course feast for 10 be if all that's left to do on the big day is make green beans with caramelized shallots, roast the bird, and set the table? Available at major bookstores. -- JEAN KRESSY

A separate grease

Last year, you probably used a strainer and other paraphernalia to siphon the fat off the turkey drippings. This year, try the Oxo Good Grips fat separator ($9.99 to $10.95 for a 16-ounce cup; about $14.95 for 32-ounce size). When the big bird is ready, transfer it to the carving board and deglaze the roasting pan. Pour the good stuff directly into the heat-resistant plastic cup. The container will filter the unidentifiable bits, the grease will rise to the top, and the cooking juices will stay below. After dinner, pop the separator in the dishwasher. There may be fatty gravies in some households, but certainly not at your table this year. Available at Bed Bath & Beyond stores ,; Crate & Barrel stores ,; Sur La Table, The Mall at Chestnut Hill, 199 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, 617-244-0213 ,; or -- EMILY SCHWAB

Pre-Thanksgiving stuffing

In the run-up to Thanksgiving, the cook's plans will likely focus on pie and casserole preparation, while the rest of the family wonders what's for lunch. A trip to Tutto Italiano in the North End or Hyde Park can solve this problem with a range of frozen entrees and antipasto platters to feed the family -- while you map out your cooking strategy for the week. The Italian meat platter ($60) feeds 10 to 15 people, or a family of four over the course of the weekend, with generous amounts of sopressata, prosciutto, capocollo, mortadella, and provolone cheese. Add a bag of home-baked bread, a few balls of homemade mozzarella, and go back to your pie plans. Tutto Italiano, 20 Fleet St., Boston, 617-557-4002; 1889 River St., Hyde Park, 617-361-4700. -- LEIGH BELANGER

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