A traditional Thanksgiving feast contains an often overwhelming number of components, from the vegetable sides to the gravy and cranberry sauce. If you’re pressed for time or just want to make things a bit easier on yourself, take advantage of some of your grocery store’s prepared turkey day offerings. You can pick and choose the parts you want to focus on, and your guests probably won’t know the difference.
Here are a few ways to make your store-bought Thanksgiving feast feel a little bit more homemade.
Instead of roasting, simmering and pureeing, consider buying prepared soups. Organic, boxed varieties can be very flavorful; choose a low-sodium option so you can season to taste yourself.
To improve the presentation, fry some sage leaves or garnish the soup with other fresh herbs, such as minced chives. Alternatively, tart yogurt or a gourmet herb-infused oil look beautiful when drizzled across the top of the bowl.
Frozen mashed potatoes can taste a bit bland, so try grating your favorite sharp, nutty cheese, like Parmigiano Reggiano, to the mix. Crispy bacon, fresh herbs and rehydrated dried mushrooms or shaved truffles can also add an elegant touch.
Many cooks pressure themselves to make gravy on the spot as dinner guests wait, using pan drippings from the roasted turkey. Try a method that demands fewer steps, such as a Turkey Gravy Base that only needs to be simmered with milk before served.
Fortunately, there are plenty of high-quality stuffing options available for purchase now, like La Brea Bakery’s Focaccia Stuffing Mix. To make it your own, add in one of your favorite flavor combinations, such as apples, nuts and sausage or fresh herbs, carrots and celery.
Frozen green beans make an easy substitute for fresh, and they’re delicious whether steamed, sauteed or roasted. Top with slivered almonds or crispy pancetta and your favorite vinaigrette.
There’s always one person at the Thanksgiving table who can’t live without canned, jellied cranberry sauce. Your simplest approach is to simply slice it into discs and display them in an attractive pattern on a plate.
Otherwise, try some add-ins:
- Fresh fruit: slices of pineapple, orange, grapes and apple add flavor and crunchy texture to the standard sauce. Try pinches of citrus zest, too.
- Nuts: Chopped walnuts, pecans or other festive holiday nuts counter the sweetness of the sauce and add an earthy touch.
- Dried fruit: Dried apricots, figs, dates, cranberries, cherries add deeper flavors to the sauce.
If you’re hosting guests who’ve generously offered to bring a dish to the gathering, suggest that they take care of the pie. Otherwise, buying a pre-made pie is a fine option; lightly whip some heavy cream with cinnamon and sugar to accompany it.
Alternatively, buy a frozen pie crust from your local store and fill it with an easy-to-use filling, such as Pecan Pumpkin Butter or another prepared pumpkin pie filling. Use festive Fall Piecrust Cutters to embellish the top of your pie for a personal touch.