If you are looking to make a Thanksgiving feast for 4-6 people in less than two hours, I have you covered! And what makes it even better, you can make it in just three pans. This 2 hour Thanksgiving dinner features a boneless turkey breast cooked on top of a cranberry sausage dressing in a 9” x 13” pan that is sub-divided with foil. The roasted butternut squash cooks in the same pan in the oven.
2 Hour Thanksgiving Dinner
A turkey breast is a great alternative to the time and effort of cooking a whole bird. When purchasing a turkey breast, the options range from whole, half, bone-in, boneless, or formed into a roast and wrapped in a net. The weight ranges between a generous 2” pounds and up to a whopping 8 pounds. To remove the bones from the turkey breast, follow the same instructions for de-boning a chicken breast. You can also purchase a boneless turkey breast from the meat counter at a nice grocery store.
I like to brine turkey to insure moist and flavorful meat. My wet or dry brine recipe is a wonderful and simple recipe. When using a boneless turkey breast half, reduce the brining time to just a few hours. Try making a 1/4 recipe of the wet brine the night before and cooling it in the fridge, then mid-morning, add the turkey breast while you set the table and relax.
Making a Foil Divider
The dressing, butternut squash, and turkey for this 2 hour thanksgiving dinner all cook in a single 9” x 13” baking pan. The sausage dressing makes an edible rack for the turkey. You want to subdivide the pan with 2/3 of the space for the dressing and 1/3 of the pan is just enough real estate for the roasted maple butternut squash to cook as the turkey does.
Remove a 16” piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold it several times so the foil is longer than the short end of the pan but as wide as the pan is deep. Press the foil firmly so it is fairly stiff. Tuck the two ends so the foil barrier spans the pan and is wedged firmly to subdivide the 1/3 of the pan from the other side.
Sausage Dressing with Dried Cranberries and Pecans
This is a wonderful variation of my favorite sausage dressing. It makes the perfect amount of dressing to make the bed on which to roast the turkey breast. This arrangement lets the cooking juices of the meat permeate through the dressing. The parts of the bread that are not covered by the meat get nice and crispy. The browned edges and the turkey-infused center make a perfect mix of sausage dressing.
Plan on about 1/2 – 3/4 of a loaf of bread (or multiple types of bread) cut into 1/2” pieces.
Roasted Maple Butternut Squash
You can buy butternut squash whole or cut it into cubes in the produce department. Look for a smaller squash since they can range between 2-8 pounds. Plan on about 3 cups of cubed butternut squash. When roasted, the vegetable will cook down. A serving size is a generous 1/2 cup of roasted squash. The maple adds to the sweetness and roasting brings out the nutty notes of the butternut squash.
The subdivided pan does not allow the vegetable to roast in a single layer so only the top edges will brown, but the ease of cooking at the same time as the rest of the meal makes this method a winner.
An easy Thanksgiving feast made in 90 minutes and just three pans. Using a single 9” x 13” baking pan to cook the bread dressing, roasted turkey breast, and roasted butternut squash all at the same time.
Turkey Breast with Herbed Butter
- 1 boneless turkey breast half, (between 2–3 pounds)
- Kosher salt and black pepper to season the turkey
- 4 tablespoons softened butter
- 2 teaspoons finely minced shallot, (about 1/2 shallot) you can add the other half in the dressing
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Sausage Bread Dressing with Dried Cranberries and Pecans
- 10 ounces of a mix of stale french, challah, sourdough, or multigrain bread (a total of 1/2 – 3/4 of a loaf) cut or torn into 1/2” pieces (about 6 cups)
- 2 stalks of celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 pound country-style pork sausage
- 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
- 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup pecan pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Roasted Maple Butternut Squash
- 1 smallish butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups raw)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 375° F with the rack in the middle.
- Pat the turkey breast dry (especially if you have brined the meat—I highly recommend this step)
- In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, shallot, thyme, orange zest, garlic, and black pepper until well mixed.
- Sprinkle kosher salt and black pepper on all sides of the turkey breast.
- Using your fingers, separate the skin from the turkey. Spread the butter liberally under the skin and on top of the skin and set aside.
- In a medium frying pan over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned. Add 1/2 of the onion and celery and saute until softened.
- Add the turkey stock and stir to remove any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, remaining onion and celery and minced parsley.
- Add the sausage and stock mixture to the bread mixture and lightly stir to combine.
- Stir in the dried cranberries and pecan piece.
- Taste and season the sausage bread dressing to taste.
- Carefully spoon the bread dressing into the 9” x 13” baking pan that has been subdivided with a foil strip so it fills the area.
- Arrange the turkey breast so it is nestled over the dressing and doesn’t touch the sides of the pan.
- In a medium bowl, toss the butternut squash cubes with the olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper and maple syrup until well coated.
- Arrange the butternut squash in the remaining side of the baking pan.
- Bake pan in the preheated 375° F oven for 60 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the turkey breast with an instant-read thermometer. Continue roasting until the turkey reaches 158° F. Remove the pan from the oven and loosely tent the pan with foil for 10 minutes to allow the turkey meat to rest.
- Lift the turkey from the bread dressing and slice. Serve this 2 hour thanksgiving dinner to your guest and enjoy your feast.
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