Many people think that serving your family a classic, delicious Thanksgiving requires days of work in the kitchen. However, with a little culinary savviness, one can make a complete meal in a couple of hours. Pick up store-bought snacks to tide over your crowd until turkey time. Put together a simple cheese plate with olives, nuts, figs, and charcuterie.
Cut cook time in half by serving a roasted turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. Keep the stuffing simple and the flavoring ingredients to a minimum. A gravy that doesn't require turkey drippings is another time saver. Combine the sweet potato side with the traditional mashed potatoes. Make a quick cranberry sauce with sugar, cranberries, and water. Serve one vegetable side in the form of a crunchy broccoli-cauliflower gratin. To look at these fast and easy recipes,
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 cups stale corn bread, crumbled into large pieces*
2 large eggs, beaten
One 3 1/2- to 4-pound bone-in turkey breast, halved at the breast bone**
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
One 1 1/2-ounce container veal or chicken demi-glace
1 tablespoon brandy***
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
- Make stuffing: preheat oven to 425°F and grease 9-by 13-inch roasting pan.
- In large skillet over moderately high heat, melt butter. Add onion, celery, garlic, nutmeg, pepper, and bay leaf, and sauté until vegetables soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in sage and cook 30 seconds more. Stir in stock and simmer, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
- Put corn bread in large bowl and pour vegetables over. Toss to mix well. Add eggs and stir to combine.
- Make turkey: rinse breast halves and pat dry. Season generously with kosher or coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and rub all over with olive oil.
- Mound stuffing in center of roasting pan and arrange turkey on top, making sure breast halves aren't touching. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of turkey (do not touch bone) registers 170°F and juices run clear when pierced with fork, 45 to 55 minutes.
- Make gravy while turkey is roasting: In small saucepan over moderately high heat, combine demi-glace, 1/2 cup water, and brandy. Bring to boil, stirring until smooth.
- Stir in butter, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered, stirring often, until gravy thickens, about 1 minute. Stir in cream and season with freshly ground pepper. Serve hot, over turkey and stuffing.
*If your corn bread isn't stale, spread out slices on a baking pan in a 200°F oven until they feel dry and crumbly. (Depending upon how moist the loaf is, this can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.) Then crumble up the slices. Any leftover stale bread — rolls, focaccia, even bagels — can be substituted for the corn bread.
**It's easiest and fastest to ask your butcher to split the turkey breast in half for you. But this can also be done at home: Use a heavy, sharp knife and don't be afraid to whack the breast at the wishbone several times until it comes apart. Slicing the skin down along the breastbone before you start cutting is also helpful.
***In the gravy, bourbon, whiskey, wine, port, or vermouth can be used instead of brandy.
- Main Dishes, Poultry
- North American
2 pounds small yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as yukon gold
1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled
2/3 cup heavy cream
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2 inches; season with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Meanwhile, halve the sweet potato lengthwise and then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Add to the boiling water and cook until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, then return to the pot.
- Using a wooden spoon, coarsely mash the potatoes and sweet potato with the cream; season with salt and pepper.
- Potato, Side Dishes
1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup water
- In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, lemon zest, and water; bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer; cook until cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool to room temperature.
Makes about 3 cups.
Make ahead: To store, refrigerate in an airtight container, up to 1 week.
- Side Dishes, Other
4 cups broccoli florets (from 2 small heads)
4 cups cauliflower florets (from 1 small head)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded (2 cups)
1/4 cup pitted oil-cured green or black olives, coarsely chopped
1 cup coarse plain dry bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter a 2-inch-deep 2-quart baking dish.
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the broccoli and cauliflower and cook until crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook just until fragrant.
- Off the heat, add the broccoli and cauliflower and toss. Toss half of the cheese and the olives with the vegetables. Transfer to the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- In a small bowl, toss the crumbs with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the crumbs over the cheese. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the crumbs are golden. Serve hot.
- Side Dishes, Vegetables