If you’re thinking about making Thanksgiving dinner for friends or family this holiday, right about now you might be getting cold feet. You might be asking yourself, “Where’s the nearest buffet?” Don’t despair. You can make a delicious holiday meal in just a few hours time, and you don’t need to shell out much cash to do it either.
Easy Thanksgiving dinner
If you’re thinking about making Thanksgiving dinner for friends or family this holiday, right about now you might be getting cold feet. You might be asking yourself, “Where’s the nearest buffet?”
Don’t despair. You can make a delicious holiday meal in just a few hours time, and you don’t need to shell out much cash to do it either.
Here are six recipes that a novice cook can prepare. These are classic turkey-day specialties, designed to efficiently use oven and stovetop space–you should be able to put your big meal together with ease in less than four hours.
Make the most of your time by using the handy shopping list included. Double check your kitchen for staple items such as seasonings before heading to the grocery store. This meal should feed four people. Shop once and get it all.
The most important element of this meal is strategizing timing. Start the most time-consuming items first: the chicken, the roasted garlic for the mashed potatoes and the yams. Then make the cranberry sauce because it can sit at room temperature while the rest of the meal is cooking. Next, move on to the prep for the mashed potatoes, mushrooms and broccoli, and get it all on the stove.
Be sure to read all of the recipes completely before cooking, so you can juggle stovetop and oven space if necessary. As soon as the bird comes out of the oven, turn the temperature down to low and use as a warmer, so all dishes come to the table piping hot.
The BirdCooking time: 2 hoursActive time: 20 minutes
Choose a large four- to five-pound chicken to comfortably feed four. If feeding six to eight people, buy two birds. The two chickens will bake faster in the oven than a small turkey.
Ingredients:1 lemon4 tablespoons of salted butter, softened2 stalks of celery2 carrots1 head of garlicSalt and fresh-ground pepperA generous drizzle of olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse the chicken thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Save the giblets if making gravy. Put chicken into an oval roasting pan or small glass casserole dish. Cut lemon in half and rub all over outside of bird with the cut-open side, squeezing as you go. Stuff juiced lemon halves into the cavity. Gently slide fingers under the skin covering the breast meat, and stuff each side with half the softened butter. Distribute evenly to cover the inside of the meat. Cut the celery and carrots into one-inch chunks and stuff into cavity. Cut the top half-inch off the garlic head and stuff it into the cavity as well. Season the outside of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake at 400 degrees for the first 20 minutes, and then reduce oven temperature to 350. It will take about an hour and a half to bake a four and a half pound chicken. It is ready when the leg twists easily out of the socket and the juices from the leg joint run clear when speared with a knife or skewer. Flip bird over so that the juices can run into the breast, cover with a kitchen towel and allow bird to rest 10-15 minutes while finishing the rest of the meal.
Roasted YamsCooking time: 45 minutesActive time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:4 large yams2-3 tablespoons of salted butterA dash of cinnamon (optional)
While the chicken is cooking, put four large yams in the oven to roast. Spear each a few times with the tines of a fork to allow steam to escape. Place on tin foil to catch any juices that run out while baking. When they are soft, about 40 minutes later, remove from oven and wrap in foil until a few minutes before serving the meal. When ready to serve, slip the skins off and mash the insides with a fork, adding a few tablespoons of butter and a dash of cinnamon, if desired. The yams will mash very easily, so do it in the bowl they’ll be served in. Cover with foil or plastic wrap to keep warm until placing on the table.
Cranberry sauceCooking time: 40 minutesActive time: 10 minutesThis sauce will taste great the next day on a sandwich.
Ingredients:1 bag of fresh cranberriesﾌ_ tablespoon of vegetable oil or butter2 tablespoons of diced onions or shallotsﾌ_ teaspoon of ground cinnamon1-inch chunk of fresh ginger, minced1 orange, zested and juicedﾌ_ cup of sugar1 teaspoon of salt
In a medium saucepan, melt butter or heat oil at medium heat. Add onions or shallots and sauté until translucent. Add cinnamon and ginger, and cook for one minute, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Allow to come to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour, stirring frequently. Add a bit more orange juice if necessary to prevent scorching. When all the berries have popped and the mixture is a thick jam-like texture, remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to a serving dish when at room temperature.
Mashed potatoes with roasted garlicCooking time: 40 minutesActive time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:1 ﾌ_ pounds of red-skinned potatoes, small4 tablespoons of salted butterﾌ_ cup of heavy cream or buttermilk1 head of garlic
Cut the top half-inch off a head of garlic. Wrap the bulb in foil and place in the oven to roast while the chicken and yams are in. Remove when garlic is squeezably soft, and set aside until mashing the potatoes. Meanwhile, wash about one and a half pounds of small red-skinned potatoes and place them in a medium saucepan. If the potatoes are two inches across or larger, cut in half or in quarters to shorten cooking time. Cover with cold water and add about one tablespoon of sea salt. Turn heat on to high when chicken has been in the oven about 30 to 40 minutes, and bring to a boil. Simmer covered until the potatoes are very tender when speared with a knife. Drain. Keep potatoes in the cooking pot.
In the cooking pot, add butter and cream, salt and pepper, and remove garlic head from foil wrapper and squeeze cloves into potatoes. Mix together, mashing potatoes while blending ingredients. Do not over mix. Cover with foil until ready to serve, and stow in warm oven if holding for more than a few minutes.
Pan Roasted MushroomsCooking time: 20 minutesActive time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:About one pound whole button or crimini mushrooms, of uniformly medium size4-6 tablespoons of salted butterSea salt
Start this recipe when the chicken is almost done. Heat a large saute pan on medium-high heat and add butter and salt. When melted, add all the mushrooms. Stir only occasionally, allowing mushrooms to brown on all their surfaces. This will take at least 20 minutes. Reduce heat to warm and hold on the stove until ready to serve.
Broccoli with walnuts and orange Cooking time: 15 minutesActive time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:About a pound of broccoli, cut into bite-sized piecesﾌ_ cup of extra virgin olive oil1 orange, zested and juicedﾌ_ cup of toasted walnuts, chopped coarse2 teaspoons of salt 1 teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper
Put a medium saucepan of cold water on the stove, add one tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a serving bowl, combine all ingredients except the broccoli. This may be done an hour ahead of time. About five minutes before serving the meal, put broccoli in boiling water and cook for about four minutes, until tender. Drain and add to olive oil mixture, tossing gently to coat. Serve.