We are just a little over two weeks out from Thanksgiving and it’s time to start considering a menu plan! When I first started making Thanksgiving dinner for Scott and I, it was this huge affair filled with all the typical dishes. It was way too much food for two people to eat yet I felt like I needed to make sure we had all the classics or else it wouldn’t be a real Thanksgiving.
Over the years, I have learned that Thanksgiving dinner can be whatever you want it to be! Now I keep things really simple with a turkey and a few side dishes that we really love.
Turkey will always be on the table for us. This year I’m not buying a whole turkey but instead will be buying a breast with some additional legs. My refrigerator is small and can’t accommodate a whole turkey in a brine. However, I do have a Bourbon Brined Turkey recipe that is fantastic! If you have the space, I highly recommend you brine that bird!
Collard greens are one of our favorite side dishes and I have been incorporating them in to our Thanksgiving feast the past few years. They can be made in the slow cooker which makes things so much easier. This frees up space on the stove for other things like making gravy and mashed potatoes. Plus they can even be made the day before or cooked in the slow cooker over night so the only thing you have to do on the big day is reheat them (or keep them warm).
Collards provide plenty of leftovers and heck, you can even eat them for breakfast!
Cranberry sauce will also make an appearance! I prefer to have it as a breakfast item but Scott really enjoys having it has a side dish with the big dinner. We usually have Cranberry Apple Sauce which is super simple and full of flavor. This can also be made a day ahead and gently warmed right before serving.
If you’re looking for something totally different, Spicy Cranberry Chutney would be a great addition!
Mashed potatoes and gravy is a must. I like to prep the potatoes ahead of time so that all the starch is removed and they become fluffy and creamy. I also prefer to use yukon gold potatoes because they create a nice buttery color when all mashed up. I admit that I have been leaving out the stuffing so that I have room for more greens!
Gravy doesn’t need to be time consuming, I’ve recently started making blender gravy which eliminates the need for a roux! Using homemade stock and pan drippings, this technique guarantees a smooth and flavorful gravy every time!
If you are going to stick with making a roux for the gravy, the roux can be made up to two days ahead! Just make sure to store the roux in an airtight container. It will be ready to go when it’s time to make the gravy. Just gently reheat the roux in a pan and then add the liquid.
We might be skipping the stuffing this year but you don’t have to! Here is a recipe for a Savory Apple Stuffing that is perfect for Thanksgiving Day.
Since sweet potatoes are such a staple at Thanksgiving, I tend to use them in a pie instead of making them as a side dish. This year I’m working on a pumpkin cream cheese pie (recipe soon!) but this Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie is what we had last year.
Our Thanksgiving is super simple, full of flavor, and has plenty of leftovers. If you are making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time or will be creating a meal for a small number of people, this menu is perfect for you! Most things can be made a head of time leaving you with more time to relax and enjoy the moment of the big day.