Now that Canadian Thanksgiving has passed, it’s time to prep for AMERICAN THANKSGIVING. I love an excuse to eat multiple thanksgiving dinners, so why not celebrate both? Despite the current political climate, we still have a lot to be thankful for.
Usually for Canadian thanksgiving I’ll celebrate with family or a big group of friends. This year, on Thanksgiving Monday, it was just my husband and I so I made us a little thanksgiving dinner for 2. On Thursday November 23rd it’ll probably be my husband and I again and you know what? I’ll probably make a similar feast.
Thanksgiving dinner can seem like an insane thing to do for just two people but I’ve found a way to make it super simple.
- Get a chicken instead of a turkey
- Use canned cranberries and canned squash
- Shove potato wedged in with your chicken instead of making mashed
- Buy dessert
Sounds easy already, right?
For me there is one thing that makes Thanksgiving feel like Thanksgiving. It’s not the turkey, the mashed potatoes or even the cranberry. It’s the stuffing! As long as you have that, it’ll feel festive. I’ve made a lot of funky stuffings in my day using all sorts of different breads, apple and celery, sausage and fennel. The possibilities are endless. I happened to have a big bunch of kale in my fridge and I wanted to add a healthy green element to my dinner for two.
Julia’s Kale Stuffing
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 loaf sourdough bread, torn into pieces
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup or more chicken stock
pad or butter and glug of olive oil
salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350. Sauté onion in butter and olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook for 3 more minutes. Add kale, salt and pepper and cook until slightly wilted but still bright green. Don’t over cook or it starts to turn brown. In a small greased casserole dish (you could even use a brownie pan in a pinch!) combine the bread and onion/kale mixture. No need for an extra bowl! This helps minimize clean up. Pour chicken stock over top and stir. You want the bread to be moist but not swimming in liquid. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and pop in the oven for 30 minutes. I do this before I start the chicken and then 15 minutes before I’m about to serve, I’ll reheat the stuffing at a higher heat to warm it and crisp up the top.
Some people say you should be using day old bread in your stuffing. I used the fresh stuff and it was delicious. Sourdough is my favourite because it adds more depth of flavour and naturally has a crusty exterior and chewy delicious interior. Also, so many stuffing recipes I see call for SO much butter. I don’t think it’s necessary. Just enough to make them onions glisten! As for the broth, it depends on how moist you like your stuffing. I hate dry stuffing. I also hate water logged stuffing that tastes like paste. You want it to be moist on the inside and have some nice crisp edges. If when you take it out after 30 minutes it looks dry as hell, add a bit more stock before putting it back in. Did I mention how damn good kale is in this? It’s like a delicious bread salad. (emphasis on the bread!)
Now it’s time for the chicken! Bon Appétit magazine had a great little article about simple roast chicken, and I tested it out. I really liked it and think you will too!
Roast Chicken and Potatoes
I followed those directions but added some pepper to the skin and stuffed half a lemon and some sage into the chicken. I also trussed my chicken with dental floss because I didn’t have twine! My chicken was about 5 pounds so I cooked it for 1 hour 20 min at 425. After 40 minutes I tucked some potato wedges around the chicken and let them cook in all that chicken goodness. Instead of letting the chicken rest in the pan, I transferred it to a cutting board, covered it in tinfoil and let it rest. I drained all the pan drippings into a small sauce pan and returned the potatoes to the oven to crisp up while the chicken rested. This is a good time to put your stuffing back in too!
Now, you can make your own squash if you want OR you can buy canned butternut squash. I got some from Trader Joe’s. Open can. Pour in sauce pan. Add a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, pad of butter, drizzle of honey, salt and pepper. Boom. Yummy squash in minutes.
Heat pan drippings over medium heat. Add some chicken broth/stock if you want to beef it up. Mix 1 tbsp cornstarch with a bit of cold water and add to chicken liquid. Simmer, stirring often, until it thickens. Pour it on everything.
Now all you need to do is open a can of cranberries, carve your bird and go to town! I made this, top to bottom, in about 2.5 hours. The kale stuffing was hearty and moist. The potato wedges almost tasted like confit potatoes because they had cooked in chicken fat. The natural chicken gravy had a bit of zing from the lemon and earthiness from the sage. If I hadn’t opened the can of squash myself I wouldn’t have known it was canned! So if this Thanksgiving it’s just you and your partner, you and a friend, or just you by yourself, treat yourself to a little thanksgiving feast! The best part? You’ll have leftovers and don’t have to share them with anyone 😉