Traditionally my husband and I celebrate a poultry-free Thanksgiving. Oft times we find ourselves flying solo, usually at our desert home near Palm Springs. On such an iconic Thursday night we will sit among the stars with our pool lights twinkling and feast on something spectacular. But this year heralded a happy surprise; my oldest hopped a plane to join us for the holiday. When I asked her what she would like for dinner, she exclaimed “turkey of course, with all the trimmings!” Her desire was to wake and cook all day long. And that is precisely what we did. Here is our feast for three (taking a few liberties to make the spread come together as seamlessly as possible).
A baked sweet potato needs little embellishment. Here these tubers are whipped into shape with simply a dollop of butter and salt and pepper. And because the whipped sweet potatoes are reheated in the oven they can be made earlier that day or even a day before. Prick sweet potatoes several times with a fork. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil (sweet potatoes tend to ooze a thick sugary syrup when they cook). Bake until very soft, 1- 1 ½ hours.
Cool enough to handle, halve the potatoes then squeeze the flesh into a large bowl.
With an electric mixer whip the potatoes with a couple tablespoons of butter until fluffy. Season with salt and several grinds of pepper.
Place in a buttered ceramic dish, cool completely, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until heated through.
What would this day of thanks and indulgence be without mashed potatoes? A little update with parmesan smashed potatoes. In a large saucepan cover whole small potatoes with cold water and one teaspoon of salt. Simmer covered until the potatoes are completely tender, about twenty minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile grate some fresh parmesan cheese.
In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half and butter.
Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and break them up with a potato masher.
With an electric mixer running slowly add almost all of the hot cream and butter to the potatoes (reserve a few tablespoons for thinning later if need be).
Fold in the sour cream, parmesan, season with salt and pepper. Check to see if you need to thin the potatoes with more cream and butter.
Serve immediately or cool completely, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before reheating in a 350 degree oven uncovered for 20 minutes or until heated through.
Forgo those canned crispy onions for a healthier side- string beans with sautéed shallots. Steam the green beans in the microwave until crisp tender.
Shock in an ice water bath. Drain well and set aside.
Sauté the shallots until lightly browned. Add the green beans to the shallots with a big pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss well. Heat just until the beans are hot. Note- the beans can be steamed and refreshed and the shallots sautéed earlier in the day, store separately.
For a splash of color and texture roast baby carrots (you can often find already peeled and trimmed baby carrots in the gourmet produce section of the grocery store) . Toss the carrots with olive oil and a big pinch of kosher salt on a rimmed baking dish. Roast the carrots in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until tender, flipping halfway through.
These can be done a little earlier, just shorten the cooking time, leave at room temp then reheat for 10 minutes until heated through. Toss with chopped fresh dill just before serving.
Nothing like a home baked pumpkin pie to set the olfactory stage for Thanksgiving Day. This pie comes together in a snap thanks to Trader Joe’s delicious frozen piecrust (seriously this is an amazing ready-made piecrust).
Just thaw, unroll, drape into a glass pie dish and flute the edges.
Combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl.
Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in the pumpkin puree and sugar-spice mixture. Then gradually stir in the evaporated milk.
Pour mixture into the piecrust. Place on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet.
Bake in a preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean (I had to test my pie twice). Cool on a wire rack for two hours.
You might be asking where’s the main event? Don’t tell but I trotted down to Jensen’s and picked up one of their famous roasted turkeys. Seeing that this is our vacation home I couldn’t justify stressing and basting over a bird for three. An hour and half before dinner I popped it into the oven for an hour. While it rested I reheated all the other sides.
And presto our feast with all the fixings was ready to go. What made this day truly special- having my amazing sous chef by my side!