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Sheet-pan Thanksgiving: An easy low-key feast for 2020

Sheet-pan Thanksgiving: An easy low-key feast for 2020

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The 2020 holiday season will most definitely look different than in past years. Thanks to limited gatherings due to COVID-19, family feasts and Friendsgiving parties will more than likely be limited to a few people.

There’s no reason to skimp on dinner, however, but you may not need that 19-pound turkey this year.

If a small gathering is in your Thanksgiving future, why not eliminate the extra dishes, copious amounts of leftovers and the refrigerator space required to house all of the traditional prep required for a big dinner?

Instead, whip up a quick and easy (but still delicious) Thanksgiving feast for up to six people on two rimmed baking sheets in about an hour. Knock out a batch of cranberry sauce up to a week ahead, and make one dessert instead of three separate pies but still get the flavors you crave.

This is proof that it is possible to downsize the biggest food holiday out there without sacrificing favorites.

Sheet-pan Thanksgiving dinner

Serves 6

Set bread cubes on a tray for a day before cooking so they get a little stale — or toast them in the oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.

Softened butter, for the baking sheets

FOR THE STUFFING/DRESSING

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium sweet onion, diced

2 celery ribs, diced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1¼ cups chicken stock

1 large egg

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 cups day-old sourdough, brioche or other hearty white bread cubes

FOR THE TURKEY

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

6- to 7-pound whole turkey breast, breast halves removed from the bone with skin attached

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, halved

1½ tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

FOR THE SWEET POTATOES

6 small to medium sweet potatoes

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

½ cup candied pecans, chopped

1½ cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat two rimmed baking sheets with softened butter.

FOR THE STUFFING/DRESSING:

1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in sage.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together chicken broth, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add the bread cubes and the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Transfer the stuffing mixture to one-half of a prepared sheet pan, spreading it in an even layer but not packing it down. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and drizzle over the stuffing.

FOR THE TURKEY: Generously sprinkle the turkey breasts on both sides with salt and pepper and put them skin-side up on the other half of the sheet pan next to the stuffing. Brush the skin with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter.

FOR THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS: Place Brussels sprouts in a single layer onto one side of the second prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil, soy sauce and honey and toss gently to combine.

FOR THE SWEET POTATOES: Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and arrange them on the other half of the sheet pan next to the Brussels sprouts.

1. Place sheet pans into oven, on separate racks, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; stir Brussels sprouts and rotate sheet pans onto different racks. Continue to bake until Brussels sprouts are lightly browned, an additional 20 minutes. Stir Brussels sprouts onto one side of the baking sheet.

2. Cut the potatoes down the center lengthwise, top with butter, pecans and marshmallows. Place into oven and bake until the marshmallows just start to brown, about 5 minutes.

3. If needed, continue cooking the turkey and stuffing pan until the turkey is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.

Cranberry sauce

Serves 6 to 8

This quick, no-frills version of a holiday classic involves five common ingredients and 15 minutes on the stove. I always make extra, to ensure enough for day-after turkey sandwiches.

2 (8-ounce) packages cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 orange, zested and juiced

¾ to 1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Stir in ½ cup water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make ahead: Refrigerate up to a week or freeze for up to one month.

Marbled pumpkin cheesecake with pecan pie topping

Serves 10 to 12

This combines all of our favorite Thanksgiving desserts into one: cheesecake, pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Save the extra pumpkin puree to stir into your favorite hearty soup or chili.

Pumpkin cheesecake

1½ cups crushed gingersnap cookies

½ cup finely chopped pecans

⅓ cup butter, melted

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

¾ cup white sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pecan pie topping

2 eggs beaten

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons melted butter

⅓ cup dark corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies, pecans and butter. Press into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, ½ cup sugar and vanilla just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Blend ¼ cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg into the remaining mixture.

3. Spread the pumpkin-flavored batter onto the crust and drop the plain batter by the spoonful onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Place pan in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to so the batter can firm up.

4. For the pecan pie topping, combine the eggs, sugars, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl. Stir in pecans.

5. Remove cheesecake from freezer and carefully spoon the pecan layer over the pumpkin layer.

6. Bake until filling is set, about 55 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

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