Listen to a chef–you gotta get organized.

The key to success in any kitchen–whether its at a four-star French joint on the UES or your house on Thanksgiving–is a good plan. So as we all start to gear up for Thanksgiving week, and an all-day cooking and eating extravaganza, it’s time to get your duck (or turkeys!) in a row.

First up, stuffing (Or dressing? I’ll leave the name up to you…). A good stuffing can make your holiday table, while a bad batch will leave you with nothing but ridicule until Christmas. Great stuffing starts with good cornbread. And the good news is, you actually want your cornbread to be a day or two old when you go to mix it with herbs, spices and sausage. That way, it’ll be ready to soak up more deliciousness when it hits the oven on Thursday.

So the first step in your master plan for a successful Turkey Day is getting a batch of cornbread made a few days early. All you’ll need for this recipe is an 8-inch skillet. A cast iron is ideal but an oven-safe omelet pan will do just fine.

Cornbread Recipe
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 1/2  teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
2 cups milk or buttermilk*
*if using buttermilk, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk to combine thoroughly and add to the dry ingredients. Gently stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Set the batter aside to rest while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven to 400˚

Place the stick of butter in the pan and place the pan in the oven to melt the butter. When the butter is fully melted, remove from the oven and stir into the batter. When the butter is fully incorporated, transfer the batter into the hot skillet and return to the oven to bake approximately 25 minutes or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the cooked cornbread in the skillet for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a cutting board and cutting into cubes. Cool completely and pack into airtight containers or zip top bags. Store in a cool dark place, refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Check back tomorrow for Step 2 (how to bring it all together).