The Mountain Chef: Tips for the last-minute Turkey Day cook |

The Mountain Chef: Tips for the last-minute Turkey Day cook

by Ian Buchanan
the mountain chef

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This is one of the biggest meals of the year, and I’m sure it means different things for different people. For some of us it means weeks of planning menus, organizing family and welcoming the busy season. But there are some of us who wait until the last minute to put it all together. Don’t fret … you can still have an amazing Turkey Day dinner even if you like to live life on the edge. The challenge won’t be cooking the food, it will be contending with the crowded supermarkets!

Here are a few ideas for some delicious, quick, easy recipes. As a whole, these recipes can be prepared as an entire menu for 4-6 people that can be executed on the big day. Each recipe, individually, offers basic ingredients for ease in making these items from scratch, steering away from pre-prepared foods thus increasing quality and flavor as well as nutritional content. And they present a nice addition to any Thanksgiving Day menu. Enjoy!

> 2 turkey breasts, about 2 lbs cut into 4 equal portions

> 1/2 T minced garlic

> 1 T minced onion

> salt and pepper to taste

> 8-12 sage leaves, whole

> 4 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 400F. Place turkey in a large bowl, rub turkey with garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Take a turkey breast and lay two to three whole sage leaves on top in a criss-cross pattern. Then take one slice of bacon and wrap it around the breast so both ends are on the underside. Preheat a large skillet over med-high heat and sear the bottom first, to secure the bacon, until golden brown, turn once and cook the top until golden brown. Place turkey top up in an oven safe dish on the middle rack and cook until internal temperature reaches 170F. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

> 1 lb sweet potatoes, skin on, large dice

> 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, skin on, large dice

> 1/2 cup heavy cream

> 1/2 sour cream

> 2 T butter

> salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until soft, drain. Then add remaining ingredients and mash coarsely with hand masher or mix on low speed with electric hand mixer.

> 5 cups chicken stock

> 1/2 cup flour

> Salt and pepper to taste

> 1/2 T dried herbs (thyme, marjoram, oregano, parsley, basil) or 1 T fresh herbs, chopped

In a medium saucepan bring 4 cups stock to a simmer, dissolve flour in the remaining stock and slowly drizzle into simmering stock, whisking constantly while pouring. Add herbs and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until thickened.

> 1 lb baby carrots

> 2 T butter, unsalted

> 1 garlic clove, minced

> 1 T fresh ginger, minced

> 2 tsp brown sugar

> 1/2 cup chicken stock

> 1/4 cup orange juice

> salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter then add garlic and ginger; saute until fragrant but not browned, about 30 seconds, add carrots and cook 5 minutes then add sugar, stock and juice. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until tender about 15 minutes. Remove lid and reduce liquid until carrots are glazed, season with salt and pepper.

> 1-12 oz package fresh cranberries

> 1 cup orange juice

> 1 cup sugar

> dash nutmeg

> dash cinnamon

> dash salt

> 1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted

Combine all ingredients, except almonds, in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until cranberries burst, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, stir in almonds.

> 10 oz fresh bread Cut into 1/2” cubes

> 1 stalk celery, diced

> 1/2 apple, core and seeds removed, diced

> 1/2 onion, diced

> 1 small garlic clove, minced

> 3 T olive oil

> 1-1/2 cups chicken stock

> 1/4 tsp dry thyme

> salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat, add oil then celery, onion and apple; cook until onion is translucent. Add the bread and cook briefly, then add thyme, salt, pepper and stock. Remove from heat and place in a greased oven-proof baking dish. Press down to mash slightly and bake until golden brown about 20 minutes.

Ian T Buchanan is the chef/owner of Open To The World Private Chef Services and lead instructor at CMC Breckenridge’s Center For Lifelong Learning Culinary Program. Please view his website at or contact him at (440) 376-0096.

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