Food & Drink

Thanksgiving Dinner For Two ... In A Toaster Oven

Okay, so it's not your average toaster oven -- it's the modern-day version, called a countertop convection oven, but we'll get into that more later. We know that not everyone's kitchen is equipped to host a grand 18-place-setting Thanksgiving feast (nor does everyone want one!), so we set out to prove that it's possible to make an intimate Thanksgiving feast for two -- without losing a sense of tradition. (Though if your family is susceptible to blowout fights at the holiday dinner table -- the kind where your aunt always ends up storming out of the room and slamming her bedroom door -- you may just be ready to part ways with tradition.)

So is it really possible to create a "traditional-tasting" meal without following tradition? Absolutely. We even discovered the most amazing turkey breast recipe along the way -- one that a few of our editors are planning to make instead of their traditional turkey recipe. It's so simple to prepare and so flavorful that we can't imagine ever going back to the "real thing" (i.e. fishing inside a turkey's innards for a bag of guts and basting away for hours on end).

Now, back to the oven. For something that looks like a toaster oven, this newfangled contraption does a lot more than you'd think. In fact, it performs better than many of our editors' conventional ovens -- so much so that we're all dying for one after testing it out. It bakes, roasts, broils, reheats, warms, and even has a convection setting that turns on a fan to evenly disperse heat, in turn cooking your food more rapidly. Our favorite, which we used to test out this menu, is a Breville model that's available at Williams-Sonoma.

So, follow our plan below to create a full Thanksgiving feast for two. It includes turkey, cranberry sauce, roasted acorn squash, crispy new potatoes, and homemade apple pie. What it doesn't include: bags of innards and drama. Sounds pretty good, right?

Up to 1 day before Thanksgiving

Bake Easy Apple Pie
(Follow the instructions for the "Rustic Apple Pie.") Not only does this recipe not require a pie plate (you can cook it on a baking sheet), but it also uses store-bought dough to save you from making a mess. After you bake the pie and let it cool to room temperature, keep it wrapped airtight in plastic or foil until you're ready to serve it.

Season and marinate the Slow-Roasted Herbed Turkey Breast
Combine garlic, salt, sage, rosemary, thyme, celery seeds, black pepper and olive oil, and rub all over turkey. Let it refrigerate between 6 and 24 hours.

Make Chunky Cranberry Sauce
All this recipe takes cranberries, apple juice and sugar, plus 20 minutes in a saucepan and a night to chill out in the refrigerator.

3 hours before dinner

Remove turkey from refrigerator
Remove the seasoned turkey breast from the refrigerator and let it sit out at room temperature for 1 hour.

Make Squash and Potatoes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (375 degrees Fahrenheit if you're using the convection setting).
For Squash: Cut one acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds. Set each half on baking sheet, face up, and place a pat of putter and a pinch of salt and pepper in each half.
For Potatoes: Wash two handfuls of small fingerling or new potatoes, and cut in half. Toss the potatoes with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on baking sheet with the acorn squash.
Roast: Roast the squash and potatoes, at the same time, for an hour. The squash should be tender to a fork's touch, and the potatoes should be browned on the outside and soft on the inside.

2 hours before dinner

Lower oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (275 degrees Fahrenheit if you're using the convection setting). Place the turkey in the oven to roast.

20 minutes before dinner

After the turkey has roasted to its finished temperature, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest, letting the juices evenly distribute throughout the meat.

Turn oven to "warm" setting, and put squash and potatoes in oven until you're ready to serve dinner.

Slice the turkey just before serving, and plate with cranberry sauce, squash and potatoes. Don't forget to serve pie afterward for dessert, if you still have room.

Want to add biscuits to your Thanksgiving feast? Make things easy on yourself and cheat a little with canned store-bought biscuits -- check out our Canned Biscuits Taste Test to find out which ranked highest!