Thanksgiving Dinner in Just Five Hours? Here's How
Thanksgiving Dinner in Just Five Hours? Here's How
Let get real here: Thanksgiving is just dinner. We can take it to the extreme with a 20-pound turkey, 10 different sides, and hours of planning, shopping, and cooking… or it could just be a nice, festive meal.
If Thanksgiving cooking falls on your shoulders don’t panic: cooking a complete Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be a multi-day affair. In fact, you can make a full show-stopping Thanksgiving dinner in as little as five hours, start to finish.
For instance, instead of turning out a lot of elaborate dishes, settle on the key classics — turkey, stuffing, a vegetable side, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pie — and don’t be afraid of shortcuts. Opting for some store-bought pie crust, pre-cubed bread for stuffing, and bakery rolls will cut down your time in the kitchen.
Next, about that turkey that is supposed to take 30 minutes per pound to cook… yeah, let’s fix that. Instead of a big whole bird, serve your turkey deconstructed—in other words, just breasts or thighs (or both) detached from the main body — or else spatchcook the bird (remove its backbone) to reduce cooking time.
Thanksgiving should be a time of celebration not a prison kitchen sentence for the cook. Follow this time-saving Thanksgiving menu and guide for a simple, delicious, and enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner.
Quick Cooking Tip #1
Make sure you have all of your ingredients before you begin, to avoid that last minute trip to the grocery store in the middle of cooking!
It would take all of 10 seconds to pop open a fresh can of jellied cranberry sauce and slide it onto a plate, but if you want the real thing, how does a 10-minute cranberry relish sound? Check out this Thanksgiving hero’s guide to the perfect cranberry relish that whips together the tart condiment in just 10 minutes. If you are looking for a cranberry sauce recipe that is a little outside the box, look no further than this recipe that combines frozen blueberries and cranberries for a sweeter sauce.
Quick Tip #2
Try and pick some recipes that can be made on the stovetop instead of the oven as to not overcrowd or over-schedule the oven space.
Vegetable Side Dish
A little burst of color on your plate of mostly brown (turkey, gravy, and stuffing) is quite necessary, but instead of a casserole that jams up your oven, try cooking something on the stovetop.
These green beans are ready in less than 15 minutes and the additions of walnuts and lemon make this dish taste deceptively complex and fancy. Or try making these crispy Brussels sprouts garnished with breadcrumbs and romano cheese. Cook them over high heat to earn a crispy char and get them from pan to plate in just 10 minutes.
Gravy can seem like a daunting task for an inexperienced cook, but it doesn’t have to be an unconquerable challenge. Follow The Daily Meal’s simple tricks for perfect pan gravy you can make while your turkey rests, or if you save the turkey neck and giblets you can make your gravy hours in advance before you even cook your turkey.
Quick Tip #3
Create a planning timeline to indicate when things need to be cooked and when the oven is free. This is doubly important since this accelerated menu requires some oven space juggling and planning.
Unfortunately, when pressed for time, we can’t always cook everything from scratch, which is where The Daily Meal’s store-bought stuffing taste test will be an invaluable guide to remember when shopping for your Thanksgiving dinner. But if you do want to make homemade, definitely buy pre-cut dried bread cubes at the store and follow this straightforward recipe that flavors this simple dish with mushrooms and shallots.
Quick Tip #4
Start your cooking day with dishes that can be served at room-temperature or need some rest time like your cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie.
Want to impress your guests without laboring over a pot with a hand held masher for what feels like an eternity? Invest in a good quality food mill or use the paddle attachment on your stand mixer for the smoothest creamy mashed potatoes with not even half the effort. The Daily Meal has all the tips you need for creamy mashed potatoes.
Also, opt for a thin-skinned potato that doesn’t need peeling— like red or golden potatoes— instead of the more classic russet variety to save you from time-consuming peeling. Plus the finished product will be rustically streaked with the gorgeous color of the skins.
It’s a no-brainer that you can save time when you buy a pre-made pie crust. All that is left to you is the filling. Consider baking your pie before the other dishes so it has time to set-up throughout the day. Check out this quick and easy pumpkin pie recipe, or even this pecan pie recipe. If you really want to speed everything up you could opt to make a super easy apple crisp in lieu of an apple pie. This dish can be thrown in the oven when you sit down to eat dinner and emerge from the oven at just the right time for dessert.
Quick Tip #5
Set timers— with this many moving parts it’s easy to forget something.
Finally, the star of the day: the bird. Would you believe you could cook a 12-pound turkey in one and a half hours? Cooking the turkey whole might afford you that Norman Rockwell entrance with the platter in hand, but if we are being honest, roasting a turkey whole means that the legs are either slightly underdone or the breast is slightly overcooked. Have your butcher remove the backbone (or do it yourself — it’s kind of fun!) and/or separate the turkey breasts from the legs. In a real pinch, skip the brine and just be sure to season your turkey well before cooking. Click here for all of our Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes.