Follow this game plan for an easy small scale Thanksgiving dinner. Roasted bone-in turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots and even pumpkin pie for dessert! It’s the perfect Thanksgiving strategy for serving a group of 2-6 people.
Thanksgiving hasn’t existed for us for a couple years now. We’ve made a habit out of taking a vacation during the holiday rather than gathering for the traditional Thanksgiving Day Dinner. The main reason being that I’m so short on vacation time at work that it’s the best way to stretch my limited time off… Last year we were in Barcelona for the holiday. This year, we’ll be in Hawaii, soaking up the sun instead of the tryptophan.
As amazing as the time away is, I really do miss the traditional Thanksgiving feast and time spent with friends and family. So, this year, we’re doing Thanksgiving, but we’re doing it in a smaller fashion – Instead of roasting a huge turkey, I’m cooking up a bone-in turkey breast. It’s the perfect way to get that turkey fix, without having a massive amount of leftovers, plus it cooks faster and it’s way simpler to carve.
My recipe for this turkey breast is as hands off as can be, and virtually foolproof. I like to give it a good seasoning, by rubbing a mixture of spices, mustard and lemon juice both under and over the skin. Then, I let it sit in the fridge, uncovered, overnight. This allows the skin to dry out a bit, and then it roasts up nice an crispy and brown. And who doesn’t like crispy skin on their turkey?
There’s no basting involved either. Instead, I place the turkey breast on a roasting rack, so that the air circulates all around, and then I pour a cup of dry white wine into the pan along with a cup of water. As the wine heats, it evaporates and keeps the turkey sitting above it moist and gives it the most amazing flavor. It’s a beautiful, simple bird… Turkey shouldn’t be fussy.
As stunning and delicious as that turkey is – Let’s be honest, Thanksgiving is also all about the sides! The supporting cast in my show consists of Glazed Carrots, Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Mushroom & Pecan Stuffing with Fresh Herbs. To top it all off, an immensely impressive dessert – Pumpkin Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce. (I’m obsessed with that Salted Caramel Sauce!)
My game plan for Thanksgiving is to spread out the work over a couple days – Getting a lot of the “busy work” done the day before means a whole lot less stress on the day of – More time to enjoy a glass, or two, or four of wine…
Here’s my strategy for a Easy Small Scale Thanksgiving Dinner:
Day Before Thanksgiving Prep:
- Prepare the stuffing and place in a casserole dish – We’ll bake it tomorrow while the turkey breast is roasting.
- Season the turkey and place in refrigerator, uncovered, overnight.
- Bake the pumpkin pie and prepare the salted caramel sauce.
- Peel and slice the carrots and place them in a Ziploc bag for tomorrow.
Day Of Thanksgiving Prep:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Roast the turkey at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 degrees and add the stuffing to the oven. Bake the stuffing and turkey breast for an additional 45-60 minutes until the turkey is cooked through.
- While the turkey and stuffing cook. Prepare the mashed potatoes. Keep warm on the stove.
- Remove the turkey and stuffing from the oven and cover both with foil to keep warm. Let the turkey rest for 15 minutes.
- Prepare the glazed carrots while the turkey rests.
- Carve the turkey and serve alongside the stuffing, glazed carrots and mashed potatoes. Don’t forget the pumpkin pie for dessert!
How to Cook a Turkey Breast
Roasted Bone-In Turkey Breast
- 1 bone-in turkey breast (about 4 lbs.)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 Tbsp . grainy mustard
- 1 Tbsp . chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tsp . kosher salt
- 1 tsp . black pepper
- 2 Tbsp . olive oil
- 2 Tbsp . lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp . butter
- In a bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, thyme, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. Loosen the skin from the turkey breast and smear half of the mixture under the skin. Smear the remaining mixture on the outside of the turkey breast. Place in refrigerator, uncovered, overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Place the turkey on a rack, in a roasting pan, and pour the wine and water into the bottom of the pan.
- Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees; and roast for an additional 45 minutes – 1 hour or until thermometer inserted into thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees. If the skin is over-browning, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. When the turkey is done, add the butter to the pan, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the pan juices spooned over the turkey breast.
Thanksgiving Wine Pairings:
- Pinot Noir pairs nicely with the earthy flavors in the stuffing and glazed carrots, and is light bodied enough to pair with the white meat turkey.
- Riesling and Gewurztraminer are nice white options that compliment the turkey and cut down on the richness of the mashed potatoes.
- Rosé has a great acidity and hints of baking spices which is a great match for Thanksgiving dishes. (Here are some great Rosé wines under $10.)
- Sparkling Wine is a great option – It plays nicely with all the dishes and feels extra extravagant for a special occasion. (Here are some budget-friendly sparkling wines.)