I like Thanksgiving, I really do, but let’s be honest about it: it’s Christmas. Only most Americans don’t see it that way since they refuse to buy into Christmas until the day AFTER. That makes no sense to me. It’s a holiday about giving thanks, coming together, celebrating and having some great food. And everyone (mostly) gets the day off. I consider other country dwellers to be quite lucky since they don’t need to put up with this. The day after Halloween it’s Christmas. And nobody complains because they don’t have a random holiday mixed in there.
Ok, sure, there are plenty of religions that don’t celebrate Christmas. I’m not very religious myself. I’ve grown to love the spirit of the season. Christmas brings a joy and happiness to the world. People are a bit kinder. It’s kind of sad it only happens because of a holiday, but I’ll take it.
The whole point I’m trying to make is that while tradition is nice, we need to break from it every once and a while. And I’m not talking about playing Christmas music on Thanksgiving Day (I mean, by the point you’re ready to eat, Santa has already made his way through the parade and it’s ok to talk about Christmas since you’re already looking at the dead forest in front of you covered with ads for everything that’s dirt cheap that you can get at 3 in the morning on your day off. I often question this countries ideals.) No, what I’m talking about is giving up on turkey.
It’s crazy. But let’s be truthful, turkey isn’t that great. It’s a pain in the ass. It takes up a lot of space in the oven. It takes a while to cook. It dries out really fast. So last year, when I realized our Thanksgiving was going to be an intimate dinner for 5, I seized the opportunity to say to my family “FUCK THE TURKEY!” Ok, I didn’t say that, but I alluded to it. It’s a bird. If anyone got that up in arms over not having a turkey, they’d also be the people that freaked out about a cup at Starbucks.
The beauty of a chicken is it’s small, juicy and take just over an hour to cook. There are even more benefits. When everyone goes back for seconds, they go for stuffing or mashed potatoes. Nobody goes back for the turkey. It’s just gross. It’s dried out. You dump buckets of gravy over it to make up for it. CHICKEN IS THE WAY OF THE FUTURE.
Now, you’re going to bring up, how you’ve got twenty people coming over. Ok. Fine. Get four chickens. It’ll take the same amount of time and you’ll still have room in the oven. Plus, you’ve always got that vegan family member nobody wants to mention that shows up and ruins all the fun of everything with meat and dairy.
Don’t fight it.
So last year’s experiment went so well, this year, I’m doing it again. The same menu. It’s something, with enough planning you can do pretty much everything 2 hours before you want to eat. Seriously. You can have a lazy Thanksgiving. Doesn’t that sound nice? So yes, I know that, truthfully, it will depend on how many people you’ve got coming over. But either way, this comes together fast.
So, here’s your menu:
The Best Roast Chicken You’ve Ever Had (Sorry Ina)
And for dessert: Spiced Pumpkin Pudding
Here’s the key. The chicken and the vegetables cook together. The chicken sits right on top of the vegetables. You make a stock with the trimmings from all your vegetables and the inside of the chicken. This stock goes into both the stuffing and the gravy. The gravy has bacon fat. The bacon you cook goes into the peas. The pudding is an addition for this year. Normally I don’t even make dessert. Nobody has room. But, I’d recommend this because you can make it ahead.
MONDAY or TUESDAY
Make the dessert a few days ahead of time. Then it’s just a matter of finishing it right before serving.
• Clean the chicken
• Cut veggies for gravy, peas, stuffing and roasting
• Use all the veggies scraps and the inside of the chicken to make a stock.
• Roast the vegetables and the chicken
• Finish the stuffing and bake
• While the chicken is roasting, cook the bacon and keep the fat in the pan.
• Cook the peas
• When the chicken and veggies come out and the chicken is resting, use the liquid left in the pan to make the gravy
Everything comes out at the same time and you’ve done very little except drink. That’s what I call a successful holiday.