With fall being my favorite season, it’s only natural that Thanksgiving would be my favorite holiday, no? I’m not in it just for the food, I swear! But my family does put out an impressive spread. The turkey, of course, is the centerpiece of the meal. There will be garlic mashed potatoes, pan gravy, fresh rolls, and my favorite thing in the whole world, green dressing, or as we call it in Italian-American-speak, “ping.” It’s very similar to the “ping” we use to fill raviolis–a blend of spinach, fresh herbs, ground meat, and bread (when it’s getting stuffed in a bird). Any veggies gracing the table are likely there for show.
Food coma inevitably follows, along with the annual viewing of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I look forward to this tradition every year.
You recognize that feeling, right? We’ve all been there.
As much as I enjoy the large soiree, it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes Thanksgiving is an intimate gathering for two. Sure, you could always order take out, but why not indulge in a traditional meal, just on a smaller scale? Certainly nothing beats the aroma of roasted turkey wafting through the air. Not only will this meal satisfy your turkey-day cravings, it’s a meal that can be prepared any time of the year. For the main course, we’ll roast a half turkey breast in white wine, similar to my recipe for chicken roasted in white wine. On the side, we’ll kick up the stuffing a notch, and serve it muffin-style, along with some Blue Lake green beans sautéed with garlic slivers and a little crushed red pepper. For dessert, my Mom’s Raw Apple Cake is super easy and perfect served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
While the theme here is dinner for two, depending on the size of the turkey breast, you could easily feed three, possibly four. Or keep it at two, and enjoy those leftover turkey sandwiches! If you have a hankering for some homemade cranberry sauce, I highly recommend Saveur’s Cranberries with Ruby Port. It only takes a few minutes to prepare, and it’s something that you could whip up a day or two ahead.
Before we begin, let’s put on some Christmas Music. What’s that? Yes, it’s now Thanksgiving and OK to crank up the holiday tunes. That’s what I did.
Being organized is key to any dinner. Let’s start gathering ingredients.
Wash and dry the turkey breast before you begin.
Place turkey breast in the roasting pan, add the wine and garlic, then sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Place in a 325F oven, and set the timer for 30 minutes.
While the turkey is roasting, we’ll be able to prep the sides, then finish them up at the end. For this recipe, I started with Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing Mix, and we’re going to doctor this up. You’re welcome to use whichever brand you prefer. If using TJ’s, you’ll only need half the package for this recipe.
Prepare per the package instructions for the stovetop method and set aside in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, brown the pancetta, scoop out of the pan with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Reserve fat in pan.
While the pancetta is browning, chop the fennel and onion.
In the pancetta fat, sauté the fennel and onion until golden brown, then add the pecans and sauté a few minutes longer.
Fold the fennel/onion mixture and the pancetta into the stuffing.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the stuffing into greased muffin tins. This ended up being two scoops–the first scoop I pressed into the bottom, then added the second scoop on top to form the muffin shape. You can cover this and set it aside until the turkey comes out of the oven.
Has the turkey timer gone off yet? If so, you want to flip that baby over, and put back in the oven for another 30 minutes. When the timer goes off again, flip it right side up, and finish it off for another 20-30 minutes, until the temp reaches 165F.
We can also get the green beans ready. First, you’ll need to wash them, then snap off the stems.
Boil the beans for about four minutes, then drain and set aside.
Once the turkey is done, transfer it to a platter or carving board, then cover with foil and let it rest. Crank the oven up to 350F, and put the Stuffin’ Muffins in for about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, sauté the garlic slivers and crushed red pepper in the olive oil, until the garlic starts to cook. Add the green beans and toss until heated through.
The roasting pan can go straight to the burner. Strain the turkey drippings and return to the roasting pan. Mix 1/4 cup water with 2 tbsp Wondra flour, then whisk into the drippings over a low flame until the desired consistency is reached.
Serve up a plate and enjoy!
- 1 2½-3 lb half turkey breast, washed and dried
- 1 cup white wine
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
- Pan drippings (should be about ¾ cup)
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 tbsp Wondra flour
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Place turkey breast in roasting pan with white wine and garlic cloves.
- Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven for 1½ hours, turning every 30 minutes.
- Remove turkey to platter or carving board, cover with foil, and let rest about 15 minutes.
- Strain pan drippings and return to roasting pan.
- Heat pan over medium heat on a burner.
- Stir the Wondra flour into the water, then whisk into the pan drippings.
- Simmer stirring continuously until desired consistency is reached.
- 1 6 oz box cornbread stuffing mix (I used Trader Joe’s), prepared
- 2 oz pancetta, chopped
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped fennel
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Prepare stuffing mix according to the stovetop method directions. Set aside in a large bowl.
- In a large frying pan, brown the pancetta until crispy. Scoop out using a slotted spoon and set aside.
- To the frying pan, add the fennel and onion, sauteing until golden brown. Add the pecans and saute a few minutes longer.
- Fold the fennel/onion mixture and the pancetta into the stuffing.
- Using an ice cream scoop, scoop into a greased, regular sized muffin tin. Each muffin should be about 2 scoops–press down the first scoop with the backside of the scooper, then add a second scoop on top to form the muffin shape.
- Bake about 15-20 minutes, until golden and crispy on top.
- ½ lb Blue Lake green beans, washed and trimmed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, slivered
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- Boil water in a large pot, add the beans, and cook for about 4 minutes, then drain.
- Heat the oil in a large saute pan, add the garlic and crushed red pepper, and saute until the garlic slightly browns.
- Add the beans, tossing until heated through.
Hop on over to blogger friend Martin’s ENOFYLZ Wine Blog for Thanksgiving wine pairings.
Here are some additional Thanksgiving dinner for two menus for your enjoyment:
- Saveur Thanksgiving for Two
- Dinner for Two at the Kitchn
- Everyday Italian Dinner for Two
- About.com’s Cooking for Two
- Thanksgiving for Two at MyDesert.com
- Thanksgiving for Two at Delicious Dishings
- It’s a Mini Thanksgiving @ Cookistry
Note: I receive a modest commission for Amazon.com products linked here.