This is not the year of the mega Thanksgiving. It can, though, be a time to celebrate those we love, extend grace to others, show our gratitude, and eat a very delicious meal. Since many people have had to downsize their plans significantly, we created a super streamlined menu for a smaller crowd that ticks all the boxes of the big spreads with about half the effort. While Thanksgiving is usually the king of all make-ahead meals, this one is easy enough to pull off the day of. And if you can enlist an extra set of hands to help, it’s that much easier—and way more fun.
We know a chicken on Thanksgiving is not the norm. But if you’ve got a small crowd, this might save you from two weeks of figuring out what to do with all those leftovers. Plus, the small size ensures that the meat will be juicy, with just the right mix of light and dark. However, if you are a turkey purist, you could definitely do a version of this with a bone-in skin-on turkey breast or an extremely small turkey. Just know that you’ll need to tinker with timing based on the weight of your chosen bird—a good digital meat thermometer will be hugely helpful in determining doneness either way. Another departure from tradition is that we did not include a gravy recipe. The slow-roasted chicken is so moist that we were satisfied to serve it along with the herby drippings and those meltingly tender shallots. If you are super into gravy—we hear you. We’ve used this classic one for years.
A fresh salad is a nice respite from all the richness on your Thanksgiving plate. And a bitter lettuce like radicchio pairs so well with another fall favorite: roasted sweet potatoes. We also like the crunch of a candied nut here. We have a great recipe for candied walnuts from Roberta’s that we come back to again and again (we’ve used all different kinds of nuts), but as queen Ina says, “store-bought is fine.” The goal here is to keep it simple, after all.
The simplicity of roasted vegetables, brown butter, and sage just works. If cauliflower isn’t your thing, you could easily swap in Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, or kabocha squash for similarly delicious results (you just might need to adjust your cook time).