I am hoping my parents are too busy to read this post, because if they do, I am going to get a phone call from Mom saying, “Dear, weren’t we just going to have turkey sandwiches? This sounds like too much work. You just moved!”
I think they are worried I am going to try for a repeat of the Thanksgiving I hosted a few years ago in which we had enough food to feed a small army. Maybe that’s your Thanksgiving too. A turkey and a prime rib. Every side dish imaginable — both the traditional ones and a few we made up. I even cooked homemade marshmallows and cut them into little snowflake-shapes for after-dinner cocoa.
We didn’t actually drink the cocoa, because we were all too full. I was too tired from hours (days?) in the kitchen to even show my family the marshmallows, so they went directly from their little tin into the trash. My husband likes to remind me about those marshmallows anytime I think I’m going to be impressive.
Well, I could not pull that off again this year if I wanted to. I have one working burner on the stove (the other seems to work but fills the kitchen with smoke) and an oven I have used just twice so far. I hate to test it’s temperature setting with a turkey. Cooking a turkey is a little bit of a mystery to me. So I’m going with an abbreviated, but still festive menu. Even when you’re busy, it can be good for the soul to stop and make time for a feast.
My Menu for Thanksgiving*
*in which we skip the turkey and just eat other foods we like instead:
- Prime Rib with Au Jus: I rub the prime rib with butter, Lawry’s Season salt, and pepper, and then use these prime rib cooking instructions with my electric meat thermometer. Prime Rib is nerve-wracking because it costs a small fortune and you don’t want to mess it up, but the meat thermometer really makes it pretty foolproof. Unfortunately, the thermometer will not help you plan how early to start the roast. I once served a roast several hours after the rest of the meal. However, it tasted so good that I am fairly sure people forgave me.
- Au Jus: I make homemade beef stock the day before so I can make the Au Jus sauce. A necessity if you want to have Prime Rib French Dip sandwiches with your left-overs. Since you just spent your life savings on the roast, it will make you feel better to make the sandwiches. I also want you to know that this is the only time I make homemade beef stock. Please see above where I assure you: I am not that impressive.
- Mashed Potatoes: I found a mashed potato recipe in the manual for the Kitchen-Aid mixer that I plan to try. Love the idea of not having to mash anything by hand.
- Gravy: My husband’s one request. When we lived in L.A., there was a local Jewish deli that made really good gravy, so we just cheated and bought theirs. (No one has to know.) I’m hoping to find a good, local place for gravy this year. We’ll see.
- Asparagus: Washed, trimmed, and drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. Roasted in the oven and served plain. I sneak it in there on the lower rack beneath the roast and just adjust the cooking time depending on the oven temperature.
- Spiced Cranberry Sauce: I don’t know if anyone else enjoys cranberry sauce with cinnamon and cloves like I do, so this may get skipped. However, I enjoy watching the berries simmer on the stove. Something about the bright red color makes me happy.
- Cinnamon Ice Cream: Unfortunately, once you make Susan Branch’s recipe for cinnamon ice cream, you will have to make it every year. The thought of going without will just make all of the other desserts seem lonely.
- Pumpkin Pie: Using my pumpkin pie secrets. I think of this one as an “easy win,” plus it’s good to have something traditional so no one panics.
So all in all, it’s not a bad list and should not tax my one burner. The oven makes me nervous, but I think I’ll brave it anyway. I’m happy because I can make the ice cream, pie, and cranberry sauce ahead, so I just have to babysit the roast and make a few vegetables.
So now, it’s your turn: What do you serve at your house for the holidays? Have you ever been a rebel and switched up the menu on your unsuspecting family?