Making Thanksgiving Simpler: It’s Okay Not to Cook Everything

Growing up, Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house was comprised of a mixture of classic American and Chinese dishes. My mother would make Chinese side dishes like hot and sour soup and sautéed vegetables while I would make the American main courses such as turkey, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows.

In my teens, I was enthralled with recipe books and entertaining family with elaborate dishes. During holidays and special occasions, my mom would volunteer to be my sous chef as I whipped up three course menus featuring the likes of zuppa toscana, prime rib, and creme brûlée. I was quite good.

Then I grew up. Moved to the city. Got a job. Got a husband. And cooking up a gourmet menu was…well unrealistic.

I wasn’t going to cook this Thanksgiving, but then I found out my dad was visiting and my brother wanted a whole turkey. I considered going to a restaurant instead, but the cost of having someone else make Thanksgiving dinner was ridiculously expensive. So I decided I would muster up the energy to cook some dishes and outsource the rest.

At first, I thought the obvious thing to do was to outsource the turkey to Whole Foods. The thought of simply picking up hot and moist turkey all ready to eat was very appealing, however upon reading the fine lines, I realized their turkey was served cold and I would have to reheat it anyway. I thought to myself…I could make fresh, right-out-of-the-oven turkey for half the price. I may be lazy, but I can also be cheap. Eternal struggle.

After spending an unnecessary amount of time deliberating all my options on how to maximize my laziness and satisfy my inner foodie, I came up with this plan for Thanksgiving.

Drinks: Hot Chai Toddy and Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider.

Appetizer: Meh…skip.

Main meat course: 10-12oz fresh turkey. I’m following this Ina Garten’s recipe with one adjustment: I plan to rub the outside of the turkey with mayonnaise since that worked well in the past.

Side dishes: Canned cranberry jelly, mashed potatoes and gravy (from Whole Foods), Chinese sautéed green beans with red pepper.

Dessert: Marie Callender’s frozen apple pie + ice cream.

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

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