This year, I’m not merely “looking forward” to Thanksgiving. Oh no. It’s pure, unbridled giddiness. Let me explain: For the first year, in many, many years, I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying put. With the man I love. And it will be glorious. My game plan: Stretchy pants, Christmas movies and extra servings of pie, all dished up in a continual loop for at least 24 to 36 hours.
Although pulling together a two-person menu is nowhere nearly as stressful as one for a 20-person party (haha, suckers!), it does take some planning.
You’ll rarely find a recipe for two people, so the goal here is to use recipes that can easily be halved (or quartered) as well as recipes that serve four—because, c’mon, you want leftovers. After so much effort, single-serving dishes would just be cruel.
First up: The bird. I’m still toying with the idea of a small roast chicken, but if you’re a turkey-or-bust type, opt for just the breast. Go traditional with Kelsey Nixon’s version, get a little fancier with Roasted Turkey Breast with Creamy Gravy and Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce (shown above), or kick it up with Southwestern-Chipotle Turkey Breast With Pomegranate Cranberry Relish and Polenta. Not what you’re looking for? Find more options in our Thanksgiving Dinner for Two section.
On to sides, which is really the only thing people care about anyway, right? In a perfect world, I’d make mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. However, time is of the essence. Fortunately, the ever-fabulous Nigella has it covered with a Double Potato Mash (shown above) that mixes the best of both worlds. It’s a behemoth recipe, making 10 to 12 servings, but with only four ingredients and very basic steps, even the most math-inept types (ahem) can easily reduce it. Alternately, our microwaved single-potato spin on mashed potatoes can’t be beat for ease.
Now, stuffing. When cooking for two, I’m sorry, but making your own from scratch with biscuits or cornbread is pure insanity. Opt for jazzing up bagged seasoned stuffing mix with fresh herbs like the Kitchens did for our Better Than the Box Stuffing. The recipe makes a lot, but when it comes to stuffing, is that such a bad thing? You can also find more fanciful options (like oyster sausage and apple pear) here and here.
Greens need to be somewhere on the plate, but since this isn’t a formal affair, I’m going the rustic route with Dave Liberman’s Slow-Cooked Brussels Sprouts (shown above). Five ingredients, one pan, around 4 servings, done. Not a Brussels fan? One of these quick and easy Thanksgiving sides (ready in 30 minutes or less) is sure to fit the bill.
Finally, dessert. The sensible thing would be to tell you to pick up some ice cream, make a batch of mini pumpkin cookies, and call it a day. But this is not a time for sensibility. So in addition to a full classic Pumpkin Pie, I’m thinking Chuck Hughes’ Apple Turnovers. Flaky pastry and just four servings? Yes. But Michael Symon’s 3-Minute Chocolate Cake (shown above) is probably the best bet: It’s absurdly easy, made in the microwave and served in individual ramekins.
Throw in sparkly beverages, maybe a quick White Bean Dip or Buttermilk-Corn Muffins (using boxed mix) for snacking and dinner is done! As for the washing the dishes…well, that’s what your other half is for, right?
For more Thanksgiving ideas, check out our complete guide to the holiday: