Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
My family has a fabulous tradition of popping open a bottle of good champagne, and going around the table before dinner, toasting what each person is thankful for. We eat the American classics: roast turkey (the traditional beneficiary of the last toast) and pumpkin pie (at my insistence) and corn bread. And we temper it with some French flavor to keep the rest of the family happy: potatoes au gratin, apple cider sorbet (contentious!), haricots verts.
But now I live in London. My family is an ocean away. My husband is English. And I go to work like it’s any other Thursday. While I come home at 8 o’clock, tired and hungry, I can’t let the day go unmarked. While we may still uncork a cold bottle of champagne and say our own version of unorthodox grace, for the two of us, at that hour, it’s just not worth a whole turkey with all the trimmings.
So this year I’m doing Thanksgiving for two, in one pan, and in an hour and a half. I start with a turkey roast, off the bone, and cook it with thyme, orange, and lemon. In the same pan go the carrots (I found some gorgeous purple ones), which become olive oil-smashed carrots—a festive fall upgrade on mashed potatoes. And on the other side of the pan, Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, which come out singed and festive. A simple jus brews at the bottom of the pan, full of the sweetness of carrot and citrus, and the savor of thyme and sprouts. After an hour and a half in the oven, the turkey is ready to slice, the carrots are ready to be quickly whizzed up, and the Brussels sprouts are soft and charred and perfect. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll stew together some cranberries and ginger jam, to serve alongside.
By ten o’clock, I’m on the couch, licking pumpkin pie off my fork, and watching TV in true Thanksgiving style. No, it’s not the Thanksgiving I’m used to, but it’s marvelous, and very apropos this moment of my life. And it’s that life I’m thankful for, even if it requires a little bit of clever holiday rapidity.
- 1 2 3/4-pound boneless turkey breast roast
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1/2 orange, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch fresh thyme, divided (about 3/4 ounce)
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts
- 7 ounces whole, cooked chestnuts
- 1 1/2 pound carrots, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Rub the turkey breast roast with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
In the center of a metal roasting pan, make a bed about the size of the turkey of the sliced lemon and orange (I slice a whole lemon and a whole orange and reserve the extra for garnish). Top the bed with half the thyme, still on the stem.
Remove the remaining thyme leaves from their stems, and lightly chop. Rub onto the turkey, and place on the citrus and thyme bed. On one side of the roastingpan, tumble in the Brussels sprouts and chestnuts. On the other side, the carrots. Toss each vegetable (not mixing with the other vegetable) with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour the broth into the pan. Roast in the oven for 1 hour, or until the turkey reaches 165 degrees F, stirring the vegetables in their little corners once during cooking. Set out for 10 minutes to rest.
Whiz up the carrots in the food processor with 2 tablespoons of thyme and 2 tablespoons of the brothy liquid at the bottom of the pan, and some soft thyme from the pan until you have a mashed potato-like consistency.
Slice up the turkey, and serve the smashed carrots and roasted sprouts and chestnuts alongside. Garnish with the reserved citrus and more thyme. Decant the cooking liquid into a gravy boat (you can stir in a touch of butter if you want), and happy Thanksgiving.print this recipe