I did it. I cooked my first turkey and prepared a Thanksgiving spread on my own with one oven in five hours — and you can, too. The trick? Keep the menu simple and plan ahead.
Here’s what we had:
Herb-Roasted Turkey with Wild Mushroom Gravy: I chose this recipe primarily because I love mushrooms and didn’t want to bother with brining a bird. I followed the instructions to the letter and the meat was moist and flavorful, but recommend rubbing half of the herb butter under the skin versus placing it all in the cavity as outlined in Step 2.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey-Balsamic Glaze: (recipe can be doubled)
Roasted Butternut Squash with Onions and Rosemary (recipe follows and can be doubled)
Mulled-Wine Cranberry Sauce (recipe follows)
Ciabatta Bread Rolls: If you enjoy baking bread, give this recipe a go. Divide the dough into 12 pieces for dinner-size rolls.
Candied Pecans: These are delicious as a snack or in a green salad.
You might be asking, “Where’s the stuffing and homemade pie?” They’re definitely among my classic Thanksgiving recipe favorites but, if made from scratch, require a lot of ingredients and hands-on time. I settled on these easy, classic Thanksgiving recipes because they’re tasty and can be served hot or at room temperature, and can be reinvented as fresh “bestovers” the following day. (Stay tuned to see how I transformed this meal in an upcoming post.)
If you’re in charge of single-handedly feeding a small crowd (4-6 people) on Thanksgiving, follow my countdown for a stress-free and satisfying holiday. From start to finish, you can have food on the table in about five hours.
Several days before (That’s today!):
• Buy ingredients
• Defrost turkey, if frozen
• Make the candied pecans
One day before:
• Buy or make the ciabatta bread rolls
• Pull out all your serving platters and dishes
• Five hours before you plan to eat, prepare and roast the turkey – It takes about 30 minutes to prep and 3 hours to cook, and you should let it rest for at least an hour before you carve it.
• While the turkey is cooking, prepare the cranberry sauce. Once the cranberry sauce is cooked, put it in the fridge to cool.
• Next, sauté the mushrooms for the gravy; set aside until the turkey is done cooking.
• Then prepare the Brussels sprouts and butternut squash for roasting.
• As soon as the turkey is done cooking, roast the Brussels sprouts.
• Once the Brussels sprouts are cooked, roast the butternut squash.
• While the squash is cooking, transfer the turkey to a large platter and garnish with red, green and black grapes and fresh sage.
• Finish making the mushroom gravy.
That’s it — you’re done! Now transfer everything to serving platters, invite guests to grab a plate and dig in.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Onions and Rosemary
Makes 6 servings
• 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1/2 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
• 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
• Place butternut squash and onions on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread squash and onions in a single layer.
• Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and stir gently. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.
Mulled-Wine Cranberry Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
• 2 large navel oranges
• 1 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
• 1 1/2 cups dry white wine (like Chardonnay)
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• Finely grate zest from 1 orange and set aside. Remove rind from both oranges. Supreme oranges into a small bowl and squeeze the juice from the membranes into another small bowl. Cut orange segments in half crosswise.
• In a medium sauce pan, combine cranberries, wine, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, orange zest and reserved orange juice. Cook over medium-high heat and stir until sugar dissolves.
• Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst and juices thicken slightly, about 20 minutes.
• Remove from heat; stir in the orange segments. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover and chill.