Maple-Sage Dry-Brined TurkeyPhoto Credit : Elizabeth Cecile
It’s the perpetual conundrum of the holiday kitchen: During the two months of the year when you have the least amount of time to spare, you’re expected to turn out the most elaborate feasts. And you want the food to be special, the stuff of family memories.
The following holiday recipes, designed to inspire your cooking from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, were created with today’s busy cooks in mind. Well, almost all of them were: The Coconut-Pumpkin Cream Pie does take time, but most pies do (that crust has to chill!), and it’s well worth the effort to turn out such a gorgeous and delicious take on the essential Thanksgiving dessert.
Beyond that, there isn’t a recipe here that requires more than an hour of actual hands-on time. Some, such as the Cranberry-Apple Butter and the Maple-Sage Dry-Brined Turkey, may take hours to cook or cure, but you’ll be out of the kitchen, checking other things off your to-do list, while they take care of themselves. There’s even a streamlined decorated cookie that pops with brightly colored dough instead of time-consuming icings. They may not be 30-minute everyday fare, but these meals will make your days a little merrier, your load a little lighter.
Pear, Walnut, and Gorgonzola Puffs Here we have a proven flavor combination (pear, walnuts, Gorgonzola, and herbs) in an easy-to-make appetizer that you can prepare with minimal time and effort. What’s not to love?
Crispy Caramelized Sweet Potatoes It took many tries to get the Crispy Caramelized Sweet Potatoes recipe we were looking for: candied sweet potatoes that were crisp, not mushy.
Cranberry-Apple Butter Cranberries and apples cook down until thick and caramelized−a lightly spiced condiment to serve with turkey, spread on toast, or spoon over yogurt.
Potato Bread Dressing with Apples, Sausage, and Sage Paired with sausage, onion, sage, and apple, this dressing is savory, moist, fluffy, and crisp on top.
Maple-Sage Dry-Brined Turkey Dry brining (really just a fancy version of pre-salting) provides many of the benefits of wet brining (enhanced flavor, juicier meat) without the mess.
Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Shallot-Port Sauce Cooking at a low temperature takes longer, but it brings the interior of the meat to a completely even doneness with minimal effort. Try it once and you may never go back.
Creamed Chard with Walnut-Breadcrumb Topping I love the contrasting textures and flavors of this earthy combination: the silky chard and crunchy topping, the creamy sauce and hearty greens.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes We love the tang that a bit of buttermilk lends to mashed potatoes (provided they’re also made with delicious butter).
Coconut-Pumpkin Cream Pie Here’s a cross between coconut cream pie and pumpkin pie. Unexpected? Perhaps, but the result is delicious.
Linzer Stars Almonds, raspberries, and a hint of cinnamon flavor these classic Austrian cookies.
Peppermint Baubles We designed these cookies as a streamlined alternative to frosted butter cookies. Rather than decorating with icing, you color a bit of the dough and use it to create a polka dot design on the surface.