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Fast Feast

Jonathan Waxman's step-by-step guide to the compleat Thanksgiving dinner -- turkey and stuffing and all the sides -- in just two hours. Now, that's pilgrims' progress.

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Many things in life can be done in a couple of hours. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner isn't one of them -- or so we thought until Washington Park chef Jonathan Waxman generously divulged the foolproof 120-minute technique he developed on a dare seventeen years ago and has been perfecting ever since. The avatar of California-casual cooking keeps things predictably simple with a fourteen-ingredient shopping list, and in his opinion, bigger is decidedly not better: "No one in New York has a huge kitchen," he says. "No one wants a huge turkey." The twelve-pounder his recipe calls for cooks in under an hour and a half. Which still leaves plenty of time to whip up oyster-and-apple stuffing, rich giblet gravy, crunchy Brussels sprouts and bacon, earthy roasted-carrot-and-endive salad, and homemade cranberry sauce, not to mention two kinds of potatoes, and spaghetti squash. Okay, so it doesn't include dessert. Isn't that what guests are for?

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.


1. Wash turkey under hot water to soften the skin and release fat. Pat the bird dry inside and out, season inside and out with salt and pepper, and place 2 sage leaves in each end. Put the turkey in a roasting pan, and set aside at room temperature.

2. Slice the unpeeled apples in half. Lightly coat with oil the apples, carrots, sweet potatoes and potatoes (don't peel any of them), and the spaghetti squash. Prick the sweet potatoes in several places with a fork.

3. Place the apples, cut-side-down, and all the vegetables on two baking sheets, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove the apples, and turn the vegetables. Continue cooking the vegetables for a further 20 minutes.


4. While the vegetables are roasting, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium sauté pan, add all the chopped onion, season to taste with salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes until they're translucent. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Don't wash out the sauté pan.

5. Place the drained oysters in a bowl along with 3⁄4 cup of the cooked onion, 3 cups of the torn-up pieces of baguette, and 1⁄4 cup of softened butter. Core the apples (leaving the peel on), slice the flesh into 1-inch chunks, and add to the bowl with the oysters. Stir together, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Stuff the turkey (a), and cover the exposed stuffing with foil (b). Add 1⁄2 cup hot water to the roasting pan.


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