While you can always go all out and make a ton of food, I find that I often get tired of the leftovers pretty fast, and not everything freezes well.
In this instructable I'll go over how to pick your courses, how to time your meal, and give an example of a typical Thanksgiving dinner I make when it's just two of us at home.
Step 1: Plan Your Menu
- roasted turkey thighs (less than an hour to make - cooks at 400 F)
- mashed potatoes (entirely on the stove top - less than an hour)
- stuffin' muffins (around an hour to make - cooks at 350 F)
- Thanksgiving salad (less than an hour - butternut squash can be roasted along with the turkey)
- biscuits (less than 20 minutes to make! cooks at 450 F for 7-9 minutes)
- chocolate cream pie (an hour of prep + cooking, plus a few hours to chill. can be made the night before)
The most important part of any Thanksgiving is to plan your menu! Check out my larger "How to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner" collection for more ideas on what you can make. Try to create a balance between what you're making in the oven and what will need to be cooked on the stovetop.
Don't try to cook four different things in the oven that all need different times and temperatures. It'll only stress you out!
First, decide on the meat! In this case, we're making roasted turkey thighs, because they're fairly fast to cook and the thighs have more flavor than any other part of the bird. I did a roasted turkey breast (on the bone) last year, and while it was yummy, it just does not compare to the thighs.
Secondly, choose sides! My favorite are mashed potatoes, biscuits or rolls and stuffing. You'll want to choose sides that can be kept warm in the oven without drying out, or those that can prepped ahead and warmed the day of. If you want roasted vegetables, you can roast them along with the turkey to save time.
Lastly, choose a dessert. I almost always go for pie or cobbler. Chocolate cream pie is what I'm using for this example.
Step 2: Night Before Prep Work
Stuffin' muffin recipe found here.
Chocolate cream pie recipe found here.
Prepare the stuffing as described - mix everything together into a large bowl. If making it into muffins, just leave the mixture in the bowl overnight and place it into the muffin tins in the morning. If you just want regular old stuffing, store it in a 9x13 casserole dish in the fridge overnight.
The chocolate cream pie should be made exactly as described, no extra steps needed!
Step 3: Cooking the Thanksgiving Dinner
Here are the recipe for the things we'll be making:
Here's the complete schedule of how things will go:
- preheat your oven to 400 F
- prep the butternut squash for the Thanksgiving salad - peel it and chop it up, toss it with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
- prep the turkey breasts by seasoning them with salt and pepper, butter and sage.
- put the butternut squash and the turkey into the oven (the squash will take 25-30 minutes, the turkey thighs up to 45 minutes)
- peel and cut the mashed potatoes, cover them with water, and and bring to a boil
- while the mashed potatoes are cooking, saute some seasonings/garlic with butter and then cover with milk or cream. Let this simmer on the lowest heat until the potatoes are done.
- Deseed the pomegranate.
- Cook the bacon for the salad.
- Pull out the butternut squash and turkey when they're done. The turkey needs to rest.
- Turn down the oven's heat to 350 F and pop in the stuffing. (15 minutes is needed for muffins, 30ish for a casserole dish)
- Drain the potatoes, mash them and season well. Cover them so they'll stay warm.
- Assemble the salad.
- Once the stuffing is cooked through, cover and set aside.
- Turn the over up to 450 and make the biscuit dough. Bake the biscuits. When done, set aside in a bowl and cover with a towel to keep them warm.
- Broil the turkey thighs (if needed) to warm them and crisp up the skin a little.