Thanksgiving Dinner in a Hurry without the Worry

By Sam Gugino

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Turkey, stuffing, football. More turkey, stuffing, football. Nap, leftovers, more football. I’m still going ahead with Thanksgiving dinner this year, though with a few Covid-19 related restrictions, such as having only a few friends over and eating outdoors. (We have restaurant-size heater that works great.)

But maybe the pandemic has you feeling like you don’t want to deal with the protocols of having guests. Or maybe you just don’t like all those leftovers—turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then this meal is for you, Thanksgiving dinner in 15 minutes (or thereabouts). It’s designed for four people but I could easily eat half of it myself. (What’s the point of having Thanksgiving dinner if you can’t stuff yourself?)

Just think, no prepping ahead. No leftovers. No frantic calls to the Meat and Poultry Hotline. (“Is my turkey still good if it’s been frozen since the Clinton administration?”)

My turkey is in the form of cutlets, available in most supermarkets. Some markets have boneless turkey breast halves from which cutlets can be sliced, then pounded thin for fast cooking. (Maybe the butcher can do this for you.) The bread stuffing is a quick version of what my mother made. You even have something Mom never made, fresh cranberry relish. (We always got the maroon slinky from the can.) If you’d rather not deal with fresh cranberries, jazz up whole canned cranberry sauce (not the slinky) by folding two tablespoons of chopped pecans or walnuts and two tablespoons of finely chopped candied ginger into it.

Now you’ve got time to bake that pumpkin pie, or not.

Thanksgiving Dinner in Minutes

  • 2 tablespoons candied (crystallized) ginger
  • 1 small juice orange
  • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 small to medium onion, 4 to 8 ounces
  • 4 tablespoons butter (3 uses)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (3 uses)
  • 1 rib celery
  • 12 ounces sliced white bread
  • 2 cups warm water in a medium bowl
  • 5 fresh sage leaves or 1/2 tablespoon dried sage leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 turkey cutlets, about 5 ounces each, pounded 1/4 to 3/8 inches thick
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 2 ounces fresh white mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry

1)Drop the ginger down the chute of a food processor with the motor running. When the ginger is chopped, stop the motor. Quarter the orange and remove the white membrane in the middle and any pits. Do not peel. Add the orange to the food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Push down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the cranberries and sugar. Pulse several times. Push down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pulse again until well combined but still chunky. Pour into a serving bowl and refrigerate.

2)Put a large heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium heat while you peel and chop the onion. Put one tablespoon each of the butter and oil into the skillet. Trim and chop the celery. When the butter stops sizzling, add the celery and onion, increase the heat to medium-high, and stir periodically until the onion and celery soften but do not brown. (Reduce heat if needed.)

3)While the celery and onion cook, lightly dip each slice of bread at a time in the warm water. Squeeze out most of the moisture and coarsely crumble the bread into a large mixing bowl. Finely chop the fresh sage leaves or crumble the dried sage leaves between your fingers. Add the sage, cooked celery and onion to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

4)Put 2 tablespoons of the remaining butter and 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a heavy skillet large enough to hold all the cutlets in one layer without crowding. Put the skillet over medium heat. Season the cutlets with salt and pepper. Put the flour on a pie plate. Dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off any excess, and add to the skillet. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the cutlets for 4 minutes on one side.

5)While the turkey cooks, put the skillet used to cook the celery and onion over medium-high heat. Add the last tablespoon of butter and oil to the skillet. When the butter stops sizzling, add the bread stuffing mixture. Cook until nicely browned and lightly crisp. Turn the stuffing over periodically to brown evenly. Reduce the heat to medium, if needed to prevent burning.

6)Meanwhile, turn the cutlets over and cook for 4 more minutes, or until no pink shows in the middle. Slice the mushrooms. Remove the turkey to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the mushrooms to the skillet, stir and cook until lightly browned.

7)While the mushrooms cook, moisten the bread stuffing with 1/4 cup of the chickenstock and cook for 2 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.

8)Combine the sherry and the remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock. Add to the mushrooms. Increase the heat to high and cook for 2 minutes, scraping any bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Cook until the sauce is lightly thickened. Pour sauce over the cutlets and serve with the dressing and cranberry sauce.

Per serving: 833 calories, 46 grams protein, 116 grams carbohydrate, 20 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 112 mg cholesterol, 622 mg sodium.

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