The world might look a little different this Thanksgiving than we ever would have imagined last year, but we’re certain of one thing: we’re still having turkey, no matter what! But for those of us who are looking at a very reduced guest list, figuring out what kind of turkey to make can be a bit of a mystery. Should you just get legs, or a turkey breast, and make do with that? You could, but you have to admit there’s something special about roasting a whole bird. Thankfully, the ever elegant and resourceful Ina Garten has chimed in with her solution: just roast a much smaller turkey! Um, I guess we should have though of that.
For those of us who are used to cooking up a 20+ pounder, dealing with a small turkey (we’re talking 10 pounds or less) is a bit of a mystery. But Garten’s Make-Ahead Roast Turkey for four is easy as can be.
Garten recommends using an 8-10 pound turkey. A couple of days before Thanksgiving, rub your turkey inside and out with salt, thyme, and lemon zest. This is a dry brine, and it will season your turkey through, help it stay juicy, and give you ultra-crisp skin.
The actual cooking of the turkey is super easy. You stuff the cavity with aromatic lemon and thyme, then roast it with a bunch of onions. The flavorful drippings season the onions, and the onions in turn season the drippings, giving you a layered and complex base for your gravy.
Because the turkey is so small, it takes less than two hours to roast it. That means you have more time on Thanksgiving day to do the things you love (eat appetizers and drink wine; watch Schitt’s Creek while taking a bath; shop for Le Creuset dishes you’ll need when it’s safe to host a huge Thanksgiving again), rather than being stuck on turkey monitor duty.
If you want to have even more time on the big day, you can try Garten’s Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy with Onions & Sage. You can mix up the gravy base up to a week ahead of time. Then, the day of Thanksgiving, heat the gravy through, add any turkey pan drippings and a little white wine to brighten things up, and serve alongside your perfectly roasted turkey for four.
Thanksgiving might be smaller this year, but thanks to Ina Garten, it’s going to be just as delicious.
Before you go, check out these Ina Garten-Approved holiday gift ideas: