Oh the Thanksgiving posts abound, but people are asking me for help with doing a first and or easy Thanksgiving. Friends that haven’t done it before and are a bit nervous in the kitchen. Does that sound like you too? Don’t worry, this easy Thanksgiving menu is simple and a good base to add more on to if someone wants to bring something. I will be available for questions this week and next. Just like my Facebook page and post to the page. I get notifications right away.
Here’s the menu:
An Easy Thanksgiving Dinner for 6
Wild Rice and Mushroom Duck Soup
(you can use chicken stock in place of the duck stock to make it very easy)
Butternut Squash and Chanterelle Mushroom Bisque
(if you are feeling a bit more ambitious, but it does freeze well so
you can do it today)
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast (recipe below)
(buy kosher or an already brined one)
Sausage Stuffing (recipe below)
(gussied up stuffing mix)
Roasted Squash and Brussel Sprouts
(if you are feeling more ambitious & have the time)
(for whomever is asking if they can bring something)
Spiked Ginger Snap Baked Apples
Make sure you have an accurate instant read thermometer, (not the one they stuff into some birds).
Now the timing:
You can do the soup this weekend and freeze it. Make the poultry seasoning.
Two days before, chop and trim all veggies, make the gratin, bake the apples, set the table.
Day before, roast the veggies, saute all the aromatics for the stuffing and cook the sausage. If you are doing string beans,etc. trim and blanch so cooking day of is quick. Season the turkey breast.
Day of, finish making the stuffing and bake it, roast the turkey, do all the dishes then reheat the stuff you did in advance. Serve and have a great time.
For the Stuffing:
2 T oil or butter (I used oil since I thought there was enough saturated fat in the sausage)
1 C onion, chopped
1/3 C celery inner ribs with leaves, minced
1 C mushrooms, chopped
1 small apple, peeled, seeded and chopped
4-8 oz sausage, casing removed and cut into 1″ pieces
2 C turkey or chicken stock (preferably low sodium)
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 box of cornbread stuffing mix ( I used Trader Joe’s brand)
that is about 6 oz of the crouton part and 3/4 oz of the seasoning packet
Saute the onion in oil in a large enough pan to fit all the ingredients into and have room to stir, (3ish qt).
When the onion has softened and looks translucent, add the celery and mushrooms. Once they have softened add the apples and stir.
Push to one side of the pan and add the sausage to the other. Cook the sausage until it has browned, then mix into the veggies. I like the sausage pieces in the stuffing, if you like smaller pieces, just smoosh them as they are browning. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the poultry seasoning and the seasoning from the packet. Stir. Add in the croutons and mix until combined. If it looks too dry add some more stock. Place in a heat proof baking/serving dish and bake at 350°F until heated through and crispy on top, about 20 minutes. Can be made the day before and baked the day you serve it. Will take longer to reheat. Figure at least 10 minutes more.
For the Turkey:
1 brined turkey breast half (3 1/2-4 lbs)
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
olive oil spray
1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 rib celery, 1 small apple or orange, couple cloves garlic, leek greens, few slices fresh ginger (opt) roughly chopped (this is the base for the breast)
Turkey or chicken stock
1 T corn starch
Combine the poultry seasoning with the herbs. If your seasoning doesn’t have salt, add 1/2 tsp too.
Place all the fruit and veggies in the bottom of a foil lined pan, positioning it in the middle.
Season the bottom of the breast and put that side down over the veggies.
Spray the skin with the olive oil spray (or drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top) and season with the remaining herb mixture. Add about 3/4 C stock into the pan.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Roast the breast for about 30- 40 minutes and the temp registers about 130° – 135°F and the skin is browning. Reduce the oven temp down to 200°F and continue to cook until the temp is 155°F. This will take about another hour or so. Depends on how accurate your oven is. I would check the temp at about 30 minutes so you can gauge how much longer it will take. If the temp is about 150°F and you want the skin crisper, turn on the broiler with the turkey on the lower rack and broil until crisp. Take out and tent with foil to rest about 10 minutes before slicing.
For the Turkey Gravy:
If you have brined the turkey, bought a brined or kosher turkey, the drippings may be too salty for gravy. I suggest that you have some prepared enriched turkey stock on hand like from Trader Joe’s or Kitchen Basics and use that as a base or supplement. Worst case scenario, you have the beginnings of a soup with the leftovers. This is based on using a 4 C (1 qt) box of stock. Double if you need more. If you are not stuffing the turkey, considering throwing some of these aromatics in the cavity with a roughly chopped apple or orange and some herbs. It really added another layer of flavor and you can do this prep all at once, like 2 days before. The recipe does not include the extra amounts of aromatics for inside the turkey.
Enriched Turkey Stock
½ C onion
¼ C carrot
¼ C celery and leaves
¼ C leek, green parts
1 turkey neck and any other turkey bones you may have
Turkey giblets (not the liver)
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp savory
½ tsp sage
½ tsp peppercorns
couple of allspice berries if you have them
4 C turkey stock
Roughly chop the veggies. Sauté the onion, carrots and neck in a 3ish qt pot until they start to brown. Add the celery and continue to cook until it is limp. Add the leeks and cook until they are limp. Add the giblets, herbs, spices and stock and cook covered for about 1½ hours. Strain, return to the pot and reduce to about 2½ -3 C. Cool and refrigerate.
Roast your turkey. Remove the drippings from the pan, scraping up any browned bits that are on the bottom. Strain into an appropriately sized measuring cup. Skim off the fat, reserving 2 T for each cup of gravy you want to make. Discard the remainder of the fat. Taste the drippings for saltiness. If they are just a bit salty, proceed this way:
Heat the oil in a pan, add the same amount of flour as you used fat. Remember it is 2T for each cup of drippings and/or stock. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat until the flour is cooked, but not brown. Whisk in the drippings. Cook until thickened and there is no raw flour taste. Season if needed.
Now you might want more gravy than you have drippings so add the amount of stock you wish with the drippings.
If your drippings are way too salty to use, use the stock in place of the drippings and use the drippings to season the gravy, using just enough to make it even more delicious.
For the Roasted Veggies:
Place on a parchment lined baking pan big enough to hold the veggies in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, (or garlic confit oil) salt and pepper. Roast at 400°F until tender and browned about 20-30 minutes. Can be done in advance and reheated.