Low-Key Holiday Meal

We’re thinking small this year – school has made extra time for cooking a luxury, so we’re planning on splitting our time on Thanksgiving this year between visiting family and cooking a small Thanksgiving meal for just Paul and I.

It occurred to me that Paul and I couldn’t be the only one in this predicament – a couple without children who, when not entertaining for a crowd, feels that the normal whole turkey is a bit of overkill. Since Paul has long since issued an edict on how I was “not to f**k around with Thanksgiving,” earlier this month we tried out a menu that we saw in Cuisine at Home that makes good use of a turkey breast rather than the entire bird. If all you have to look forward to this year is Boston Market or worse yet, a turkey Hungry Man frozen dinner, you may want to consider this as an option. It’s easy, fairly quick, and doesn’t make more leftovers than you can eat in a few days.

Fall Plate

In making the turkey, I only followed about half of the recipe – the squash and apples were so delicious after roasting them with the turkey that I ended up just mashing them a bit and serving them as is.

Butternut Squash and Apple Mash

As for the turkey,

Butter Basted Turkey Breast

Rosemary Butter-Basted Turkey Breast
recipe from Cuisine at Home magazine

For the Butter Baste:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. dry white wine
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

For the Turkey:
1 fresh whole turkey breast (8-9 lbs)
1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced (1 1/2 lbs)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Kosher salt and black pepper

For the Chard:
1 small bunch Swiss chard (12 oz), trimmed
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 9×13″ baking dish with nonstick spray. Cut a double layer of cheesecloth large enough to cover most of the turkey breast.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add wine, 1 tbsp. rosemary, and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Bring mixture to a simmer; remove from heat. Soak cheesecloth in butter baste until ready to use.

Trim excess fat and skin from turkey. Using kitchen shears, cut off ribs and meat along the breast. Remove shoulder bone by snapping it back and snipping the joint with the kitchen shears.

Arrange squash and apple in the prepared baking dish. Place turkey breast snuggly over squash and apple. Season turkey breast with 1 tbsp. rosemary, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Remove cheesecloth from butter baste; drape it over turkey breast, covering most of the exposed skin.

Place turkey breast in preheated oven with large end toward back of oven; bake 15 minutes. Remove turkey from oven; generously brush cheesecloth with butter baste. Repeat procedure every 15 minutes, four times in all, giving the baking dish a quarter turn each time for even roasting. Reheat baste as needed if butter congeals.

Remove cheesecloth from turkey breast; roast until skin is golden, about 1 hour more. Turn the dish after 30 minutes, and check the temperature of the turkey. Turkey is done when it registers an internal temperature of 165F.

Place turkey on a serving platter; tent with foil. Allow turkey to rest.

Chop stems of chard; saute in a large saute pan in oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Chop chard leaves. Add chard leaves to the pan, cooking until the leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, add squash and apple mixture to chard; lightly mash. Spoon mixture into a serving bowl; garnish with pecans. Serve roasted apple, squash and chard mixture with turkey and gravy.

Per serving, with apple, squash & chard (makes 10 servings): 503 cal, 15g total fat (4g sat), 230mg chol, 229mg sod, 12g carb, 3g fiber, 78g protein

Double-Duty Gravy
recipe from Cuisine at Home magazine

3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. each chopped carrot and celery
1 tbsp. each minced garlic and tomato paste
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. brandy or apple cider
1 1/2 c. each low-sodium chicken and beef broth
2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 c. half-and-half (optional)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot; saute until browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in celery and garlic; saute 2 minutes. Sprinkle in flour; stir and cook 2 minutes more.

Stir in brandy, scraping up any browned bits in the pain. Add broths, bay leaves, and thyme, whisking to prevent lumps. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until thick, 10-15 minutes; strain. Add half-and-half for turkey gravy; season with kosher salt and black pepper.

Per 1/4 cup: 49 cal, 4g total fat (1g sat), 3mg chol, 24mg sod, 3g carb, 0g fiber, 1g protein

Cranberry-Topped Sweet Potatoes

Maple Syrup Sweet Potatoes with Cranberry Sauce
recipe from Cuisine at Home magazine

3 sweet potatoes (1 1/2 lbs)
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt to taste
2 c. fresh orange juice
1/4 c. sugar
1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries (12 oz.)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil; coat with nonstick spray.

Cut each potato into 8 wedges. Combine maple syrup and butter. Toss wedges with half of the maple syrup mixture; season with salt.

Arrange wedges on the prepared pan in a single layer; roast, turning once, until fork-tender, about 45-50 minutes. Toss wedges with remaining maple syrup mixture.

Combine orange juice, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add cranberries; simmer until berries burst and sauce thickens, 10-15 minutes. Serve some cranberry sauce on the sweet potatoes and the remainder as a side dish.

Per serving (makes 6 serving): 196 cal, 2g fat (1g sat), 5mg chol, 198mg sod, 44g carb, 4g fiber, 2g protein

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

Although the flavor of brown butter is one of my favorite things in the world, I think the flavor gets a bit lost in this recipe. If I had this one to do over again, I’d make the mashed potatoes my normal way, and drizzle the brown butter over top.

Brown-Butter Mashed Potatoes
recipe from Cuisine at Home magazine

For the brown butter:
1 stick unsalted butter, sliced

For the potatoes:
2 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 c. half-and-half, warmed
1 tsp. kosher salt
Minced fresh chives

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. It will foam and turn faintly golden after a few minutes.

Cook until solids begin to turn brown and butter smells nutty, about 10 minutes. Butter should be heated long enough to turn amber. Swirl the pan often to prevent overbrowning. Remove skillet from heat; keep warm.

Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until they’re fork-tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain potatoes; return them to the pot.

Dry potatoes, stirring, over the hot burner for 30 seconds. Fill a ricer with potatoes and compress the lever, pushing potatoes through; repeat with remaining potatoes (or mash potatoes by hand). Stir in half-and-half, salt, and brown butter until thoroughly combined. Garnish potatoes with chives.

Per 1/8 recipe: 232 cal, 13g total fat (8g sat), 36mg chol, 255mg sod, 26g carb, 2g fiber, 4g protein

Scalloped Corn

Scalloped Corn New Orleans-Style
recipe from Cuisine at Home magazine

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c. diced onion
3/4 c. diced red bell pepper
4 c. frozen corn kernels
1/4 c. dry sherry
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. milk
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce or other hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 c. crushed Ritz crackers
1/2 c. sliced scallions
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 1 1/2 quart baking dish with nonstick spray.

Melt butter in large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in corn; cook 5 minutes more.

Deglaze the pan with sherry; cook until liquid evaporates. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, Tabasco and thyme; stir into corn mixture. Add cracker crumbs, scallions, salt and pepper.

Transfer mixture to the prepared dish. Bake scalloped corn until it’s brown around the edges, 35-40 minutes.

Per 1/8 recipe: 210 cal, 8g fat (3g sat), 55mg chol, 151mg sod, 28g carb, 3g fiber, 6g protein

Multigrain Stuffing

To use up whatever bread I had left in the house, I made a variation of my normal stuffing recipe, this one using about half 12-grain bread, that turned out really awesome. Super easy to make – 1 – 1 1/2 loaves of whatever bread you have laying around, cubed, 1 chopped onion, 1 diced stalk celery, 1 stick melted butter, salt and poultry seasoning to taste, add enough chicken broth to make very moist, and put into buttered 3 qt. casserole dish. Bake in a 350F oven uncovered for 45 min-1 hour, until top is brown and crusty.

If you decide to give this menu a try, let me know what you think. It sure as heck beats eating from your microwave….

6 thoughts on “Low-Key Holiday Meal

  1. rick

    I am not a turkey lover but I think this would work great with a capon or a good chicken roast as well. Love the photos. If I hadn't just finished dinner I would be out in the kitchen right now.

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  4. Diana

    A turkey breast is a great compromise. We used to do that b-4 kids, when a whole turkey was too much. Great job on all the sides too.

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