As the biggest food day of the year approaches, I am sure many of you may be already dreading all the prep and time it takes to get Thanksgiving dinner on the table. Am I right?
Well, I am here to relieve you of all that stress this year. Yes, Thanksgiving Dinner can be prepared in 8 hours max…seriously.
How do I know? Because I’ve already done it. Yep, we served our first Thanksgiving Dinner last week. It’s my favorite meal, hands down. And guess what, I was taking pictures along the way. If I can make this entire meal in 8 hours with pictures, just think how quickly you can prepare this dinner.
The key to this menu is simplicity. No fancy turkey brines…just a simple turkey. No complicated recipes. Just a simple menu that highlight the flavors that we treasure most at our Thanksgiving table…a moist turkey…sage & poultry seasoning…pumpkin…cranberry…& a deliciously moist stuffing that doesn’t take all day to prepare…& a really good pumpkin pie.
So, let’s get started…
First, the turkey. After all, a roast turkey really is the highlight of the Thanksgiving show, so to speak. When a beautifully roasted turkey is brought to the table, everyone cannot help themselves but to say “Ahhh”. In years past, I’ve brined, injected, marinated, etc. that bird, but I recently read an Thanksgiving article on Food52, and the author stressed the point that all most people want is a simple turkey that tastes like turkey. Can you think of anything better than moist white & dark meat surrounded by a crispy, delicious, slightly salty skin? I can’t.
Here’s the trick…roasting your bird upside-down…that is, breast-side-down…at a higher temperature initially allows those juices to penetrate the turkey breast, which will be succulent when it’s time to carve. All I used were 5 ingredients! Ok, I did add rosemary & 1 lemon, cut into chunks, into the cavity. The rosemary & lemon really permeate the dark meat more, and the flavor is subtle, which I like, as I’m not a huge dark meat fan anyway. The skin is brushed with olive oil…I used Pendolino EVOO from Midtown Olive Oil…then liberally sprinkled the skin with kosher salt.
The 14-pound 5-Ingredient Rosemary Lemon Roast Turkey roasted upside-down for 30 minutes, after which time I rotated it, and finished roasting the turkey for another 2½ hours. I then turned off the oven, & left the turkey there, so it could finish cooking as the temperature dropped, rather than letting it sit at room temperature, where it may cool too fast. The skin was nice & crispy, the meat warm & juicy.
Next, onto the stuffing, which is not stuffing, but a savory bread pudding that tastes like stuffing, but better. Why? Because I substituted heavy cream & milk for stock. Thank you, Chef Thomas Keller. I again was perusing Food52, & I became inspired by his Leek Bread Pudding recipe. In my recipe, I use shallots, red onion, sweet onion, roasted garlic & celery in addition to leeks, which are sautéed together with a heavy dousing of sage & poultry seasoning. I used challah instead of brioche, and left the crust. Toasting the challah cubes enhances their absorption of all the liquid yumminess. This may be the best “stuffing” I ever made…how conceited is that? Please try my 4-Onion Bread Pudding & review!
Instead of sweet potatoes, we served Carrot Soufflé in individual soufflé cups. Two of my favorite sous chefs, Kenan & Kylie, helped prepare and pour the puréed carrots, sugar, butter, spices…& a few other ingredients…into the soufflé cups.
What I love most about Carrot Soufflé is that no one has any idea that this is a dish actually made with carrots! Steaming carrots takes 15 minutes. I then put the carrots in my Vitamix…a must-have for the Holidays…add the butter, eggs, sugar, spices, flour (gluten-free or all-purpose), & baking powder…in 5 minutes, you are ready to pour & bake!
Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving without cranberries. Period. I know many of you like the canned stuff, but I am going to convince you that stuff is passé. 4-Ingredient Triple Cranberry Sauce is the bomb! Fresh cranberries, dried cranberries, sugar & cranberry juice are combined in one saucepan & cooked in 20 minutes to a warm, gooey, deliciousness. Chill & serve. YUM. If you want to take this to the next level, substitute a cup of red wine for a cup of cranberry juice. Now you’re up to 5 ingredients. Not bad.
Brussels sprouts, rather than green beans, are a staple at our Thanksgiving Dinner, and this year, I have to thank my dear friend, Kimberly, for this recipe. Recently, she roasted the itsy bitsy baby cabbages with pancetta, then drizzled pomegranate molasses & fresh pomegranate seeds last minute, & served. This dish was an instant hit. I added a little twist…I drizzled a little Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar from Midtown Olive Oil over the brussels sprouts & pancetta as well. Do you need to add the vinegar? I like a little acid in this dish, but it’s fine without it. Another alternative would be to drizzle a little balsamic glaze. Be still my heart. In any case, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Pomegranates is beautiful & I may be serving this throughout the Holiday season!
Thanksgiving gravy, for me, never changes…the Easiest Thanksgiving Gravy Ever is that recipe that’s perfect every time. All you need is a jar of Williams-Sonoma Gravy Base. Guess what, you can still order the gravy base in time for Thanksgiving. The gravy can be made a day ahead & reheated. How great is that?
Now we need a little dessert. This year, I’ve created 2 desserts! 5-Ingredient No-Cook Pumpkin Ice Cream can be made in 5 minutes! All you do is whisk together heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, canned pumpkin & pumpkin pie spice…freeze & eat. The texture is silky smooth & literally tastes like pumpkin pie. This Thanksgiving dessert is perfect for those who just want a little bite of something sweet…
…or for those who want to go for it and have pie a la mode with Pumpkin Pecan Crumble Pie! Yes, you will have to unbutton your pants at this point. Pumpkin Pecan Crumble Pie is over-the-top! This pie takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, and less than an hour to bake. What I love most about this pie is the combination of a crunchy, nutty, buttery pecan topping combined with a silky smooth, rich pumpkin pie. It’s simply good. Adding a scoop of pumpkin ice cream would be decadent, but really good.
Since it is Thanksgiving, we should serve a celebratory cocktail, as this day really hallmarks the kickoff to the Holiday Season. This year, we are serving Cranberry Pear Mimosas. Champagne & Prosecco are celebratory in themselves, & this cocktail epitomizes Fall. It’s beautiful when served, and everyone will enjoy it, I promise.
Oh my gosh, I almost forgot an appetizer! Yes, while you prepare your 8-Hour Thanksgiving Dinner, someone will be hungry…or hangry…which is never good, as that puts pressure on you…I hate that stress, don’t you? What do you think of a 5-ingredient appetizer that takes literally minutes to make & will pair perfectly with the Cranberry Pear Mimosas? You are going to love my Ricotta Pear Crostini! All you need to do is slice & toast a baguette…brush a little EVOO on those baguette slices…then spread a little ricotta…
…add a dollop of Pear Butter, & add ripe pear chunks, which do not turn that yucky brown color like their friends, the apples. How easy is that?
I hope I’ve relieved your stress & shared with you a Thanksgiving dinner menu that you will want to use! It’s delicious…I’ve had many a taste-tester this past week, and everyone has given this menu a big ole’ thumbs up! Thr grocery list is incredibly easy & I promise, everything can be done in less than 8 hours. You can even prepare the bread pudding a day or two ahead, then bake it on Thanksgiving day. You can also prepare the Carrot Soufflé a day or so ahead…just don’t add the baking powder until you’re ready to bake the soufflé. Pear Butter & 4-Ingredient Triple Cranberry Sauce should easily be made ahead, as well as the desserts. I would certainly do all my prepping a day or before Thanksgiving, so to lessen the stress & have fun as well. Cheers to a wonderful Thanksgiving & Holiday Season!
Thanksgiving Dinner Prepared in 8 Hours…Seriously