If there's one American holiday which I've adopted with enthusiasm, it's Thanksgiving. It's free of gift-giving obligations, it has no religious aspect and therefore includes everyone, and best of all, it's a celebration of the most important things in life: Friends, family, and gluttonous eating. I can definitely get behind that!
A quick Googling for Thanksgiving recipes can easily overwhelm. The turkey alone presents a multitude of options, each of them with its own set of challenges: It could be brined (who wants to lug around a sloshing bag of salted water filled with a 20 lb. bird?), roasted (this takes at least three hours!), smoked (call the fire department), stuffed (or not), or deep-fried (you must be insane). The myriad components have to be timed down to the minute and most of them prepare right before serving. To an amateur, lazy cook like me, those are pretty discouraging challenges. When I have guests, I like to prepare the lion's share of the food in advance so that I am not slaving away in the kitchen while everyone's yukking it up over wine.
This year, through a little trial and error, I put together a Thanksgiving menu that is very easy. 80% of the work is done the day before. It takes roughly three hours, less if you have any helpers. The menu is somewhat minimalist since it includes only one appetizer, one vegetable side dish and one dessert, but everything is made from scratch and you can always ask the other guests to contribute additional dishes! Without further ado, the menu: