8 dishes, 2 hour Thanksgiving or Christmas Menu made from scratch: Dry brined juicy roast turkey (from frozen!), gravy, cranberry sauce, restaurant secret make ahead mashed potato, sausage and apple stuffing (dressing), skillet corn bread, stovetop glazed carrots, lettuce wedges with ranch dressing and green bean salad. And you can make most of it ahead!
I know this is late! So it’s actually PERFECT for those who haven’t started preparing for Thanksgiving feast yet!!
We don’t officially have Thanksgiving here in Australia. But I tend to take any opportunity for a food-related celebration and today (Sunday) I’m having friends over for a Thanksgiving dinner. Yay!
So here’s what I’m serving. 8 dishes. Maximum flavour, minimum effort, but all made from scratch. And most of this menu can be prepared ahead – or you can make it on the day. 2 hours. That’s the only active prep time you need!
MAIN EVENT: Dry Brined Juicy Roast Turkey & Gravy – this is a GENIUS recipe. Just as juicy as wet brining but far easier, more practical AND the turkey actually tastes like turkey. The best part? You can brine your turkey while it’s still frozen. Get my recipe here.
PS Look how JUICY the turkey is!
NEED: Easy Cranberry Sauce – if you’re making the effort to make a turkey, you must serve it with Cranberry Sauce! I use a basic recipe with the added touch of citrus which I feel makes all the difference. Get my recipe here.
MUST HAVE SIDE: Pork Sausage & Apple Stuffing by Kathleen from Hapa Nom Nom. Still the best stuffing recipe I have tried – even compared to restaurants. Last year I made Pancetta Stuffing Cups using this recipe. It was the hit of the Christmas party I took them to!
But they are a little more fiddly than making one big dish of stuffing and because I’m a little pressed for time this weekend, I opted to make one big dish of stuffing instead. Get the recipe from Hapa Nom Nom here.
CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: Creamy Mashed Potatoes (with Make Ahead Restaurant trick) – no roast is complete without potatoes of some form! I choose to serve creamy mashed potatoes instead of my Truly Crunchy Roast Potatoes because a) the oven is reserved for the turkey and stuffing and b) it can largely be made ahead.
Did you know that restaurants mostly prepare mashed potatoes in advance instead of making it fresh for every order? Find out how – get my recipe here.
NEED MORE CARBS: Skillet Corn Bread – Rather than store bought dinner rolls, I like to make my classic corn bread and serve it warm in a skillet. Super moist, not too sweet and definitely not crumbly, I’ve been asked for this recipe more times than I can count! Get my recipe here.
LOOKS ROASTED, MADE ON STOVE: Glazed Carrots – I invented this recipe out of necessity for all those lavish menus where the oven is otherwise occupied with “more important” things, like turkey! Get my recipe here.
5 SECONDS OF CHOPPING: Iceberg Lettuce Wedges with Ranch Dressing – 5 seconds of chopping and yet looks quite impressive, don’t you think? You can make the dressing up to a few days before serving. Nice fresh addition to the menu. Get my recipe here.
NEED MORE GREENS: Green bean salad (recipe below) – super simple to make and a refreshing addition to the menu. Served at room temperature, the blanched beans and dressing can be prepared the day before. Get my recipe here.
The Make Ahead Plan
Other than brining the turkey, you can make everything on the day of or you can largely make everything ahead, making the day of the big event a breeze! Here’s how to make ahead.
- Roast turkey – this must be brined for 3 days. The only thing required to be done on the day is roasting the turkey (very low maintenance with low risk of dry meat thanks to the magic of brining!) and making the gravy (which can’t be done without the roasting juices).
- Easy Classic Cranberry Sauce – make it up to 3 weeks before!
- Pork Sausage & Apple Stuffing – you can either make the stuffing and cook it the day of (perfect to do during the turkey resting time) or you can bake it the day before then reheat it the day of. The stuffing is so juicy it doesn’t dry out when reheated. (PS You can make the stuffing on the day too!)
- Skillet corn bread – can be made the day before.
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes – cook and mash the potatoes the day before, then refrigerate. To make it creamy and reheat it, bring cream (or milk) to boil, add butter, then mix the potato in to reheat it and to make it creamy. This is how restaurants do it!
- Iceberg lettuce wedges with ranch dressing – make the ranch dressing ahead. Then on the day, you just need to cut a lettuce into wedges. Simple!
- Green beans – blanch the beans and make the dressing the day before. Then on the day, you just need to chop some tomatoes and red onion and assemble the salad!
Oh bugger. I just realised in the flurry of excitement making everything that I forgot dessert! Oops. I’ll just pick up some ice cream and make some salted caramel sauce to go with it.
OK! Signing off! Must get dolled up to greet my guests!
- Genius Easy Juicy Roast Turkey (Dry Brined) – faster, easier and better than wet brining!
- Easy Classic Cranberry Sauce – 2 minutes prep, 15 minutes hands off cooking;
- Pork Sausage & Apple Stuffing by Kathleen from Hapa Nom Nom. Hands down still the best stuffing recipe I have ever had. Make ahead or on the day, reheat it while the turkey is resting.
- Stovetop Glazed Carrots – 12 minutes on the stove, because I only have 1 oven and carrots don’t make the cut;
- Skillet corn bread – 10 minutes prep, make ahead or on the day. It can be baked while the turkey is resting;
- Iceberg lettuce wedges with ranch dressing – because if we must have greens, let make it something that takes 30 seconds to chop;
- Green beans – great make ahead, just blanch the beans and make the dressing the day before;
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes (with Restaurant Make-Ahead trick) – YES you can make mashed potato ahead! Find out how restaurants do it – super easy!