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Beginner’s Thanksgiving: 7 Recipes That Lighten the Workload

By on November 18, 2021 0

For the novice cook, Thanksgiving dinner can seem like the most intimidating meal to prepare. It’s not often that a civilian is asked to knock out a long succession of dishes, including a giant bird, for a crowd with fixed ideas of how it all should be done.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. I set out to design a reduced menu for beginners – or for anyone who wants to hit the same touchstones of flavor without doing more work than necessary.

Most meals can be prepared with little more than a hotplate and a large skillet. Everything baked at a temperature – 350 degrees – so you do not do mental or physical gymnastics with the oven.

Shopping is easy because these recipes require a limited number of essential ingredients, many of which are shared on the menu. Forget the fresh herbs – these are just one more thing you would have to wash. Instead, rely on a single dried herb (oregano, thyme, or sage are all game) to act as a flavor motif throughout the meal.

And avoid the last minute culinary sprint. Much of this menu can and should be prepared the night before, when you’re less stressed. (This should take about three to four hours.) Roll up your sleeves, start a podcast, and enjoy cooking. Leave Thanksgiving Day to roast the turkey.

A bone-in turkey breast is much easier to cook than a whole poultry; it takes a small fraction of the time and still comfortably feeds a crowd. I love to roast my turkey the same way I roast my chicken: brushed with butter, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and baked on a medium heat to make it crisp.

The last thing you want to do on Thanksgiving Day is rush right before dinner time to make gravy from the turkey’s hot pan juices. This make-ahead version relies on a caramelized red onion base, with nutritional yeast as an optional umami enhancer to add nuance and depth.

They may seem out of place on Thanksgiving, but the pizza’s red sauce flavors work exceptionally well as a creamy cheese-bound stuffing. Tomato paste and dried oregano, flowery in buttery onions, do the heavy lifting in this comforting dish, helped by an ivory shower of grated mozzarella that melts and gets gooey in places.

There’s no reason we can’t treat sweet potatoes like regular potatoes – mashed with butter, cream, roasted garlic, and lots of salt. Baking sweet potatoes in the oven, avoiding large pots of boiling water, is not just an easy way to cook them; it also concentrates their flavor.

Brightly cooked green beans make a wonderful salad with canned radicchio and artichokes. All you need for that zinger of a side dish is a generous dose of olive oil, a heavy hand with salt and pepper, and an electric lemon spritz.

Cranberry Orange Relish is a classic, but here a whole lemon – the marrow and all – acts like the bitter, sour edge your Thanksgiving plate needs. This condiment confetti is also so beautiful, almost like a stained glass window, with its ruby ​​and jewel shine.

The special joy of this pudding is the voluptuous sweetness it takes on when it sits in the fridge overnight. Over time, the layers harmonize: vanilla cookies, caramel fries and salted cinnamon whipped cream, an aerial dream in the form of an autumn dessert.


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