Even seasoned cooks can be daunted by the challenge of a holiday meal. There’s much to be done, guests are milling around the house (and your kitchen), and let’s be honest, there’s pressure on you to perform. Not to mention you may be working through the day before the meal, giving you little time to prep.
All of these stresses can make you want to put the kibosh on hosting holidays at your home, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve come up with a foolproof plan to get a Thanksgiving meal on the table in 2 hours. Yes, we said 2 hours, and no, we aren’t crazy.
It starts with a little planning, scaling down the number of sides, and most importantly, a turkey on the smaller side. We chose a 9 pounder but up to 10 pounds would work. We also limited the sides to gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, and sweet potatoes. You could throw in some store bought rolls or other pre-made items if you need more, but we felt satisfied and full after our meal.
Keep reading for our stress-free and quick Thanksgiving. And remember, it’s not really about the food, it’s about the people you’re sharing it with.
Green beans with balsamic vinaigrette and pecans
Honey-glazed sweet potatoes
Turkey roasted with herb butter
Pumpkin panna cotta with Biscotti crumble
Any successful dinner party or holiday meal starts with planning. You should start your plan a few days before the meal so you can shop accordingly and aren’t panicked the day before.
3 days before Plan your menu and create your grocery list.
2 days before Grocery shop and make your meal game plan.
1 day before Set the table. Lay out all serving utensils and bowls; label accordingly.
Day of Get cooking!
Next, set a game plan. See below for ours:
10:00am Preheat oven and boil water for sweet potatoes.
10:05am Prep and place turkey in the oven. Set a timer for 1 hour.
10:15am Make panna cotta, set in freezer, and set timer for 30 minutes.
10:30am Start the gravy by sautéing turkey bits in butter. Prep vegetables in the meantime and add to pan.
10:45am Make the cranberry sauce. Check sweet potatoes for doneness; set aside to cool. Set panna cotta in the refrigerator.
11:00am Finish the gravy. Set aside on low heat.
11:05am Check turkey and turn halfway. Cover with foil if browning too quickly.
11:15am Make the sweet potato glaze. Set aside on low heat.
11:25am Peel and slice sweet potatoes. Place in serving dish.
11:35am Start water boiling for green beans. Make vinaigrette, boil beans, and dress with vinaigrette. Place in serving dish.
11:50am Remove turkey from the oven! Place gravy and cranberry sauce in serving dishes. Drizzle sweet potatoes with glaze.
12:00pm Carve turkey and eat!
Alright, it’s time to get cooking. See below for our recipes.
Turkey Roasted with Herb Butter
- 1 8-10 pound turkey
- 1/2 onion, quartered,
- 6 small peeled and washed carrots
- 2 celery stalks, quartered
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons butter)
- 2 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons rosemary, finely chopped
- Kosher salt and pepper
Heat oven to 400°F. Remove neck, giblets, and other items from turkey cavity and replace with onion, carrots, celery, and lemon. Set neck, giblets, and other turkey bits to the side.
Place butter in a small bowl; mix in thyme and rosemary. Rub half of herbed butter all over and under turkey skin. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour and 45 minutes (or until a thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 170 degrees), rotating half way after 1 hour and brushing with remaining herbed butter. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before carving.
Honey-Glazed Sweet Potatoes
- 4 medium-size sweet potatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Sea salt
Fill a large pot with water and heat until boiling. Add sweet potatoes and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Set aside until cool enough to touch.
In a small saucepan, mix together brown sugar and cornstarch; add the remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to boil. Continue boiling until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
Gently peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place in serving dish and drizzle glaze over sweet potatoes.
Pumpkin Panna Cotta
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1 1/2 packets unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 6 Biscoff cookies
Pour 1/2 cup milk in a small saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin over and let sit for 5 minutes to soften. Heat milk and gelatin mixture over low heat until gelatin dissolves; pour into a large mixing bowl.
Add remaining milk, cream, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, and spices; whisk to combine. Divide evenly between 6 cups and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Move panna cottas to the refrigerator and let chill until your meal is finished (about 2.5 hours). Place Biscoff cookies in a small plastic bag and smash until crumbled; sprinkle over top of panna cottas.
- Turkey neck, liver, and giblets
- 6 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 celery stalks, washed and finely chopped
- 6 small peeled and washed carrots, finely chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 sprig rosemary
- Salt and pepper
Place turkey neck, liver, giblets, and 2 tablespoons butter in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until meat is browned, then add vegetables and cook until translucent and tender. Remove meat and vegetables and set aside.
Add 4 tablespoons butter to the pan and heat until melted. Add 6 tablespoons flour and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on medium low heat until bubbly and fragrant. Slowly add chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Add meat and vegetables and simmer until turkey is done. Remove meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon, or puree vegetables into gravy using an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper.
- 2 cups of fresh cranberries
- Grated zest of 1 large orange
- Segments from 1 large orange, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup of orange juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until cranberries “pop” and are tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool before serving.
Green Beans with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Pecans
- 1 1/2 pounds green beans
- 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 olive oil
- 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
Cook beans in large pot of boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes; drain and set aside. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, mustard, and oil. Toss green beans with dressing and place in a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Now put everything on the table and eat!
What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Got any easy recipes we should try? Talk to us in the comments below.