En español | It's been an emotionally trying year for our family, and my husband and I are feeling the need for a quiet holiday. With only my older daughter and her husband joining us, we've made a pact: It's fine for friends to visit over the weekend, but on Thursday it'll be just the four of us. We're all dreaming of a thankfully small Thanksgiving this year.
See also: Healthier fall dessert recipes
Keeping it small means less kitchen time. It also means there won't be that groaning board of leftovers to manage. Fine with me! After a few days of smelling, roasting and eating turkey and all the trimmings, I'm always ready for a change of menu.
We'll definitely be starting the meal with Warm Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Grapes and Walnuts. Nervous about serving Brussels sprouts? Don't be. Even Brussels sprouts detractors will be smitten with this thin-sliced, lightly sautéed vegetable partnered with three crowd-pleasers — grapes, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.
Thanksgiving Chicken With Wild Rice-Cranberry-Sausage Stuffing is a perfectly sized roast for four people. There are two good reasons for butterflying it. First, carving is a breeze. You make one cut down the breastbone for two breast/wing portions — that's it. Skin is the only thing holding the leg/thigh to each breast, which easily separates with a snip. Now you've got four generous portions — two leg/thighs and two breast/wings. To mix up the light and dark meat or stretch it to serve six, just cut the chicken into eight pieces.
The best reason to roast a butterflied chicken is the stuffing. A chicken's cavity (or a turkey's, for that matter) is so small, there isn't room for much stuffing. Opening up the bird and draping it over the stuffing means you can flavor a lot more of it.
I love Pumpkin Bread Pudding With Caramel Sauce and Brandied Whipped Cream because it does double duty: You can serve it warm with a dollop of brandy-flavored whipped cream for Thanksgiving dessert, then enjoy warmed-up leftovers later with maple syrup for a weekend breakfast.
As people who can't imagine a holiday without a slew of people to cook for, we've almost reneged several times on our pact. But I'm hoping we can pull off a cozy Thanksgiving dinner this year.
Warm Brussels Sprout Salad With Roasted Grapes and Walnuts
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 medium garlic clove
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons oil, divided
- 2 cups red seedless grapes
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
Whisk vinegar, mustard, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of the oil (this can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days; return to room temperature before serving).
When ready to serve, heat a large skillet over strong medium-high heat. Toss grapes with 1 teaspoon of oil. Add to hot skillet and sauté, shaking the pan frequently, until grapes are spotty brown, about 2 minutes. Turn onto a plate and return skillet to burner. Toss Brussels sprouts with remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Add to skillet; sauté until warmed through and slightly wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Return grapes to skillet and toss.
Transfer a portion of the Brussels sprouts mixture onto each plate. Sprinkle with walnuts, drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.