Thanksgiving in under 6 — You can do it!

For those of you slackers (guilty as well here) and still need an ideas for Thanksgiving, check out the recipes that I made last year. This is for all of you who are a bit slow and those of you who suddenly don’t have Thanksgiving plans anymore. Just kidding! I’m actually still finalizing thanksgiving plans myself; my original anticipation to use this menu didn’t really work out given that rapid growth in Thanksgiving plans.

This year, Thanksgiving came a few weeks early for my friends. I was eager to test out some recipes, and work out a 6 hour plan to get Thanksgiving dinner ready and on the table. So this year, I present to you a thanksgiving dinner, with a turkey, 3 side dishes, and dessert for a smaller family of 5 or 6 in under 6 hours.

For the purpose of this post I couldn’t get cranberries. In fact, people from my local market kind of judged me when I told them what I was doing. I ended up cooking some crushed cranberry sauce in a pan with orange juice, ginger, and lemon juice. A recipe will be coming soon though!

Before I get into the “action plan” here is a list of recipes that I’ve posted that I will be using in this 6 hour plan.

This is the exact menu that I prepared for my friends last thanksgiving. Here’s the action plan:

1:00 PM make the pie

2:00 PM prep mashed potatoes, do not bake them

3:00 PM begin prep work for the stuffing

4:00 PM prepare turkey

4:40 PM start baking turkey, finish stuffing and prepare for baking

5:00 PM start baking stuffing

6:40 PM baked potatoes while turkey is resting

7 PM Dinner is served

This year I will be trying a few new things for Thanksgiving. I’m excited to be able to share these recipes with you when I do finish everything. I wish all of you the best Thanksgiving yet, I hope my recipes will be able to strike some inspiration. Eat fast because Black Friday starts as early as 9 PM at Target this year!

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Herb-roasted Bone-in Turkey Breast

During Thanksgiving, the family always looks forward to that big, juicy, 20 pound bird that always takes over the center of the dinner table. For the chefs, however, the turkey can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Dry. Bland. Still Frozen… Did I mention dry and bland? Let’s not forget about the fact that the thing is 20 pounds…

There are so many ways that the star of Thanksgiving could be ruined. Growing up with a family of 3, my grandparents resented buying a turkey just because of how unrealistic it is for us to finish the bird. Regardless, was always a turkey on the dinner table every Thanksgiving.

Things changed in college. There was no human way I could prepare a giant turkey in my college dorm kitchen, which is why I turned to turkey breasts. I’m not talking about the packaged turkey breast fillets cut off… but the bone-in stuff… At an average of 7 pounds, the turkey breast is perfect for a smaller audience and still delivers the delicious dose of tryptophan sending you into a heavenly turkey-coma right before black friday.

So onto this bird that I’m dying to share with you…it consists of a herby butter that is massaged directly onto the meat, under the skin, which is then roasted gently until it reaches perfection.

A secret for tender and moist that I abide by is the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Poultry Curve. Alton Brown was actually the chef that introduced this curve to me. We are normally told that chicken has to be cooked until it reaches 165 F internally. In reality, when the turkey is resting, the outside of the turkey continues to warm the inside of it up, so we really only have to wait until 161F for safe cooking!

You honestly don’t really need gravy with this turkey but I’ve included a simple recipe that uses pan-drippings, roux, and a little bit of chicken stock that’ll get you through. I personally love gravy so I make a bowl even though I don’t really need it. I try to find something to do with it.. and yes that is my reference to a post-thanksgiving dinner dish (:

If you are using this gravy recipe for a turkey that you brined, use the lowest-sodium chicken broth you can find or even consider thinning it out with a bit of water instead of chicken broth so its not too salty.

Herb-Roasted Bone-in Turkey Breast

Ingredients

  • 1 Bone-in Turkey Breast
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 onion, quartered

Directions

  1. In a bowl combine garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, and butter. Place bowl in the fridge until firm.
  2. In the meanwhile, place rinse and pat down turkey breast. Loosen the skin, using it as a pocket for the butter.
  3. Rub the herbbed butter under (not over) the skin of the turkey.
  4. Place in a turkey bag lightly dusted with flour, Place the quartered onion in the cavity of the breast and tie the bag according to the instructions accompanying your oven bag. Pierce the bag, as instructed by the directions on the box.
  5. Bake turkey at 350 for approximately an hour and a half to two hours, checking for doneness at the hour and half mark. Turkey should be cooked when it reaches 161, not 165.

Happy Turkey Day!

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Bacon and Parmesan

My first encounter with mashed potatoes was when I was about 5 years old. It came in a box, with multiple little cup-a-noodle-like cups. I loved the the idea that pouring hot water on salty flakes would transform them in flavorful clouds. But of course, these really weren’t mashed potatoes. I was ok with that.

It took me a while to understand how a potato could possibly become flakes. Then it was slighlty mind blowing to realize that you actually mashed potatoes. You’d think I was a slow kid… but I still managed UCSD somehow…

This is my secret mashed potato recipe. Its really not that big of a secret, but it is pretty legendary. It starts with potatoes boiling on a pot. Bacon is then lightly cooked, until an irresistible golden brown. Once the potatoes are soft, they are drained and mashed. The bacon, and all of its grease (and some more butter when I’m feeling naughty) is added in. I then add in cheese, a dash of salt and pepper.

After being transferred to a greased baking dish (lined with foil of course), its sprinkled with bread crumbs and more cheese. My favorite part about this is the fact that this can be prepared early in the morning before everything else and then baked right before dinner begins while the turkey is resting.

Along with the Stuffing this is one of those recipes that is enjoyed by the entire family. I’ve made this for thanksgiving 4 years in a row now, and 2 more times during christmas. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with this. In fact, this `will be my only recipe that is not changing this holiday season.

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Bacon and Parmesan

Adapted from Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 stick butter (optional)
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided use
  • 8 oz bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 if you are baking right away. Spray a 13 by 9 inch pan with pam. Set aside.
  2. Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook potatoes until very tender, about 15 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, fry bacon until golden brown.
  3. Drain potatoes and return to pan. Mash well. Mix the bacon, bacon grease, and bacon bits into the potatoes and mix. Add in butter if you are using it along with the milk. Stir to combine. Stir in mozzarella and 3/4 cup of parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Transfer potatoes to baking dish. Combine the remaining parmesan and bread crumbs and cover the mashed potatoes with the mixture. At this point you can let this rest for up to 6 hours which is what I do.
  5. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Bacon

It’s hard to get everyone on the same page on Thanksgiving. I mean… for some people its hard enough trying to prevent the room from blowing off.

Imagine 15 people sitting around a dinner table, expecting a delicious meal put together by 1 person, each nit-picky and not accustomed to Western flavor profile. That is my family.

What I love about stuffing, and specifically this stuffing, is that there is a little bit of something for everyone at the table. My uncle loves the chestnuts, my aunt loves the vegetables, the older sibling you never really wanted (yes, I’m talking about you Peter) can’t stop picking at the bacon – this is my “one dish” that everyone loves, that is always requested.

I started the recipe by removed the extra used in the dish and relied on bacon grease. Because pancetta was difficult to find, I sautéed the vegetables in the bacon grease. From that point forward, it’s just a matter of combining all the remaining ingredients until well combined and forming a delicious bowl of stuffing.

I’m often asked why I don’t stuff my turkey instead of serving it on the side. To be quite honest, it started because my aunt was usually in charge of the turkey and I the remaining dishes. After carefully studying Alton Brown’s Thanksgiving menu, I’ve come to learn that the tasty turkey juices that seep into the thanksgiving stuffing can also seep into your stomach and make you vomit.

Although I emphasize that 161 F is indeed a safe temperature for roasting a turkey, in order for the stuffing to reach the 161, the remaining turkey has to reach high temperatures that would dry the breast and legs out – not good eats. On the other hand, while a meat thermometer might register the meat as cooked, the stuffing may be under the Alton Brown recommended 161 and filled with salmonella juices.

Another note that I have is the fact that this is indeed technically called “dressing” instead of stuffing. But lets be real, with a family that has an heavy asian influence like mine, calling this dressing might actually convince them that I’m serving bread, chestnuts, and bacon with a bowl full of ranch.

Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Bacon

Adapted from Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces bacon, cut into1 inch pieces
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
  • 1 pound day-old ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 9 dish with pam.
  2. Gently fry bacon until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Add the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and garlic. Saute until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the bacon. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat.
  3. Add enough broth to the mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.
  4. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with foil sprayed with pan, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

One-hour pumpkin pie

I never really knew how I felt about pumpkin pie, I spent a good portion of my life convincing myself that I didn't like it.

Unfortunately, when the time comes, and pretty much everyone coming to thanksgiving dinner decides that they want a pumpkin pie for thanksgiving, theres really nothing to do but to give in. I think this is usually how I start making up my mind on what I like to eat.

Being the pushover that I am when it comes to deciding thanksgiving items, I give in. I go through google, pick out a well rated recipe the night before thanksgiving. I take some time to do my usual reserach on, cross reference some different blogs, ideas, and settle with a rough edit.

It involves a blend of spices that I've come up with cooked with pumpkin to remove the canned taste. Its then combined with a whole can of condensed milk, two eggs and baked until just set. Upon setting… well lets just say that the only thing left was a sad pie tin, now crustless….

I can't say that this recipe changed how I feel about pumpkin pie, nor can I say this was revolutionary, but the actual prep time only takes about 10 to 15 minutes and a short prep time is more than appreciated on a busy thanksgiving day… for boomieskitchen at least!

One-hour Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from: Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. While the oven is preheating, combine pumpkin, spices, and salt on a pan and cook until warm and fragrant.
  2. Off the heat, combine pumpkin with condensed milk and eggs. Pour the batter into the pie crust.
  3. Place the pie into an oven and reduce temperature to 350. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the center lightly jiggles when shaken. A knife inserted 1 inch from the crust should come out clean. Let cool and serve.