Imagine this all-too-familiar holiday scenario: Fifteen of your closest friends and family members are coming over on Thursday night for Thanksgiving Dinner. You know you should begin prepping for the big meal—but it’s only Monday, and work was a bit hectic. You’ll get to it tomorrow. When Tuesday rolls around, your kid has a nasty cold and the errands are stacking up. But you don’t worry about it—there’s always Wednesday. Except, come Wednesday, the in-laws have arrived! You haven’t yet shopped for a turkey, but you want to be a good host by entertaining them. Before you know it, Thursday morning arrives. It’s the day of Thanksgiving, and you haven’t grocery shopped or even planned a menu. Can you bust out Thanksgiving in just three hours?
Our National Chef took on the challenge with this delicious, traditional menu, which we guarantee can be done in a pinch. And we’ve got the recipes too!
- Honey-Butter Glazed Young Carrots with Fall Spices
- Roasted Potato and Fennel Gratin
- Bone-In Turkey Breast with Sticky Cranberry-Port Sauce
- Caramelized Apple Tart Tatin with Calvados Cream
TIMING IT OUT:
First Hour –
- Rub Turkey with butter and roast
- Cook Gratin + Bake
Second Hour –
- Make + Bake Apple Tart-Tatin
- Whip Calvados Cream + Put in fridge
Third Hour –
- Rest turkey
- Make Port Sauce
- Make Carrots
- Carve Turkey
Honey-Butter Glazed Young Carrots with Fall Spices
Carrots cooked in orange juice, zest, butter and honey are a sweet-and-tart fall favorite. Add a teaspoon of chopped fresh herbs, such as sage or rosemary, at the end of the cooking process to enhance this simple dish. Buy the carrots pre-peeled to save time.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1-1/2 pound young (baby) carrots, scrubbed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1-1/2 tablespoon honey
- Pinch cinnamon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet pan, over medium-high heat, add the butter, zest, orange juice, honey and cinnamon and bring to a boil.
Add the carrots and partially cover the skillet. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook the carrots, stirring often until the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are almost tender, about 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Roasted Potato and Fennel Gratin
This classic side dish includes a subtle anise flavor from the fennel slices. Make sure
to wash the leeks thoroughly since they often contain sand in between the layers. But don’t rinse the potato slices, because the starch on their surfaces helps to bind and thicken the gratin. Use a mandolin to slice the fennel and potatoes into thin, even slices.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more, softened, for greasing baking dish
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well, thinly sliced
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 2-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 medium fennel bulbs, fronds trimmed, bulbs cored and thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Place 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until softened but not browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Add cream and milk to the saucepan and heat until mixture simmers. Add salt and white pepper, stirring well to combine. Peel potatoes and place a mandolin across the top of the saucepan. Slice potatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices directly into hot cream mixture. Press potato slices gently with a silicone spatula to submerge. Cook, undisturbed, until potatoes are partially cooked and mixture begins to thicken, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F and place a rack in the center. Generously grease a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with butter. Combine cheeses in a small mixing bowl. Using a slotted spoon or spider, carefully transfer half the potato slices to the prepared baking dish. Gently mix half of the fennel slices with the potato slices, arrange them in layers, and sprinkle with half the cheese mixture. Transfer and layer the remaining half of the potato slices and fennel slices on top of the first half. Carefully pour enough cream mixture to barely cover potatoes and fennel. Dot with remaining two tablespoons butter and cover with remaining cheese mixture.
Bake in preheated oven until casserole bubbles around the edges, potatoes and fennel are tender and top is golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes. If top begins to brown too deeply before potatoes and fennel are cooked, cover gratin with aluminum foil. If top has not browned when potatoes and fennel are cooked, place gratin under a preheated broiler. Allow gratin to sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.
To serve: sprinkle gratin with thyme leaves. Slice gratin into serving portions and transfer to serving plates use a metal spatula. Serve immediately.
Turkey Breast with Cranberry-Port Reduction
Buy a turkey breast with the bone in– this will help keep it moist. Cooking just the breast will allow this turkey to be finished in a fraction of the time of a full-sized bird.
Yield: 8 servings
- 1 (3-1/2 to 4 pound) bone-in turkey breast
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons minced sage
- 2 teaspoons minced thyme
- 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup coarsely chopped celery rib
- 3 medium shallots, peeled and minced
- 1 1/2 cups ruby port
- 2 cups chicken or turkey broth, low-sodium
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon minced thyme
In a bowl, use a wooden spoon to thoroughly combine butter, parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary. Place the turkey breast into a heavy large roasting pan. Using your fingers, carefully separate the skin from the breast, leaving the skin intact. Spread one rounded tablespoon of herb butter under skin and over breast meat. Spread remaining herb butter over surface of turkey. (Can be made one day ahead up to this point. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 375°F and position oven rack in the center.
Season the turkey breast with pepper and place in a roasting pan, scattering the onion and celery around the turkey breast. Transfer to the oven to roast until the skin is well browned and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkey breast registers 165°F, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer turkey to a cutting board to rest; tent with foil to keep warm.
To prepare the cranberry-port sauce: While the turkey is resting, carefully pour pan drippings into a fat separator. Reserve two tablespoons of the fat and return it along with the pan drippings back to the roasting pan. Place roasting pan across two burners and heat over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until tender, about two minutes. Deglaze the pan with the port and cook until almost dry, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the broth and cranberries and continue to cook until the sauce is starting to thicken, about four minutes. Using a whisk, stir in the butter and thyme. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
To serve: Slice the turkey crosswise and arrange the slices on a platter or warmed individual plates. Ladle cranberry-port reduction over the top of the turkey, or serve on the side.
Caramelized Apple Tart Tatin with Calvados Cream
This classic caramel apple dessert is said to have originated at the Hotel Tatin in central France. Legend has it that the dessert was created by accident when the filling for an apple pie was allowed to cook and turn caramel brown. Calvados is a brandy made from apples and named for the Calvados region of Normandy. This area of northern France is dotted with apple orchards, so apple dishes and products form an important part of the regional cuisine. Before unmolding the dessert, tilt the pan slightly and pour off any excess liquid, leaving a little in the pan to help keep the apples from sticking.
Yield: 8 servings
- 5 to 6 large Granny Smith, Roma, or Braeburn apples, peeled and quartered
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- About 14 ounces puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Calvados, applejack or brandy (or to taste)
To prepare the apples: trim the cores to give each a flat inner surface. Place apple quarters in a large mixing bowl and toss with the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar.
Set aside for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F and place a rack in the center. Place a 9-inch cast-iron or ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add four tablespoons butter, stirring to melt. Add the remaining one cup sugar and four tablespoons of the juices from the apples, stirring to combine. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until mixture turns a pale caramel color, about 15 to 18 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and carefully add the apple quarters, arranging them flat side up in concentric circles, packing them tightly and layering as needed. Cut the remaining two tablespoons of butter into 1/4-inch pieces and scatter evenly over the apples.
Heat skillet over medium-low heat and cook until caramel turns a deep amber color, about 18 to 20 minutes. While apples cook, occasionally spoon the caramel over them and turn the skillet as needed so apples cook evenly. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.
To prepare the pastry: lightly flour a work surface and place the thawed puff pastry in the center. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry to an even thickness of 1/4 inch. Using a 10-inch cake pan as a template, trace a 10-inch circle in the pastry using a sharp paring knife. Roll the pastry around the rolling pin and carefully unroll the pastry circle over the apples in the skillet, tucking the edges between the apples and sides of the skillet.
Set the skillet on a rimmed baking sheet, place in preheated oven and bake until pastry rises and turns golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow tart to cool for two to three minutes. Place a round, heatproof serving plate upside-down over the skillet and, working quickly and carefully, invert the tart onto the plate. Rearrange any apple slices that may have shifted or stuck to the skillet.
To make the Calvados whipped cream: place the cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until the mixture visibly thickens and begins to hold a shape. Beat in the Calvados.
To serve: cut the tart into wedges and serve with a dollop of Calvados whipped cream alongside each serving. Serve immediately.