Thanksgiving sans oven
November 17, 2008 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Thanksgiving dishes that don't use the oven?

I have one very small oven which will be occupied by a 10lb turkey for most of the day. Could you please give me suggestions of Thanksgiving sides that don't require the oven? So far I have:

mashed potatoes
brussels sprouts
cranberry sauce

which sounds like a decent spread but one is a sauce and I'm not positive everyone will give the brussels sprouts a try (even though cooked with bacon!) I have checked this thread but most dishes do need baking, thus my dillema.

This Thanksigiving is being celebrated in the UK this weekend so buying store made pumpkin pie is unlikely.
posted by like_neon to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My family always has sauteed green beans with almonds and mushrooms, which is pan only. It's always a huge hit!
posted by Willie0248 at 9:14 AM on November 17, 2008

My family makes pumpkin chiffon pie every year, which does not use the oven. I suppose you might need to bake the crust, but I should think that could be done the night before. The recipe here looks vaguely similar to what we do- double broiler, pumpkin/spice mixture added to egg whites, etc. It's delicious, IMO better than traditional pumpkin pie.

As for sides, corn or carrots might be more likely to be eaten by the picky. There are some great recipes for carrots, in particular, in this thread.
posted by MadamM at 9:17 AM on November 17, 2008

Best answer: Sauteed sweet potatoes.

Maybe a little outside the box: we make risotto as a vegetarian alternative to turkey, but you could just make small portions as sides.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:21 AM on November 17, 2008

We always ALWAYS have a relish tray - and it's my favorite part of Thanksgiving. It usually consists of sweet pickles, olives, celery sticks, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, pickled beets, scallions/green onion (the onions with stalks on them). It's always a hit and my Thanksgiving would not be complete without it. It also adds some fresh/rawness to the meal - a welcomed treat with all of that cooked and heavy food.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:23 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I forgot to add the hot peppers on the relish tray. Mmmmm.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:25 AM on November 17, 2008

How about a pasta or rice side dish? Those generally cook on the stove top. (like, macaroni and cheese or rice with broccoli?)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:30 AM on November 17, 2008

This year I'm making curried butternut squash soup as the veggie appetizer. Any sort of soup would be a good side or starter from the stovetop.
posted by rmless at 9:39 AM on November 17, 2008

Given the menu you've listed so far, I'd say go with another vegetable. Willie0248's green beans suggestion sounds great. Or you could just blanch some green beans in boiling water for a minute or two, then toss them with a bit of butter - very simple, but tasty.

Or glazed carrots - cut a bunch of carrots into chunks, simmer in some butter, sugar, and a bit of liquid (water, stock, or even rum or brandy) until the carrots are cooked through and the liquid reduces to a syrupy glaze.
posted by dnash at 9:44 AM on November 17, 2008

If you make rolls in advance, you can reheat them in the microwave briefly before putting them on the table.
posted by vytae at 10:01 AM on November 17, 2008

You can bake potatoes the previous day and put them in the fridge. The next day peel the papery outside skins off, cut them into small cubes, and fry them briefly in a mixture of butter, olive oil, diced bacon or ham, green onions, red peppers, parsley, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, etc. For some reason baked potatoes taste even better the day after baking.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:09 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

This year for our work dinner I'm bringing cornbread salad instead of dressing. And green beans mixed with baby potatos in my crockpot.
posted by raisingsand at 10:13 AM on November 17, 2008

I second cooking things in advance and then heating them up. Pumpkin pie wouldn't even need heating, and could easily be made the day before. Something like squash or sweet potatoes probably wouldn't suffer too much from being stuck in the microwave -- I know that they always taste good as leftovers!
posted by cider at 10:16 AM on November 17, 2008

Just a note, your turkey carves best and tastes best if it rests outside the oven for 20 -30 minutes. This is just enough time for a few more oven dishes if everything is ready to go when the bird comes out. You can also make them the night before and just pop them in there to warm them up.
posted by advicepig at 10:19 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

Depending on the layout and size of your oven (and turkey!), you could always throw a few potatoes into the roasting pan with the turkey, part way through cooking. They will get lovely and crispy and browned from being basted in the turkey fat/juices.
posted by Joh at 10:37 AM on November 17, 2008

I was also going to mention that planning ahead for the turkey resting phase is the trick to getting everything on the table at the same time, hot.

Sit down and write out everything you'd like to have, and start planning a quick timeline. Restaurant cooks do this all the time, but for home cooks, putting a multicourse meal with several sides on the table is the most ambitious thing we ever do.

My timeline looks like this:

The day before:
Bake pies
Cook sweet potatoes and prep sweet potato casserole with crumb topping - assemble and put in fridge
Cut potatoes into chunks for mashed potatoes, put in a pot of water, put in fridge (the water keeps them from browning and pre-cutting saves cooking and prep time on Turkey Day)
Brine turkey (you don't have to do this, I just like it)
Make cranberry relish (preferred to sauce in our house - just cranberries and whole fresh oranges ground together in a food processer).

The day of:
Prep turkey. Rinse, add aromatics, coat with butter, whatever you like to do. Pop in oven.
Make stuffing: sautee onion, celery, sage, butter, add bread crumbs, moisten with broth, place in ovenproof casserole dish.
Make stovetop dishes: creamed onions, mashed potatoes, green vegetable. Time these by working backward from dinnertime. Mashed potatoes are better the hotter they are, so start them with plenty of time to get soft but don't mash them early.
Pull turkey out when it reaches doneness. Tent over w/foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at least.

During the last 20 minutes resting time:
Pop the pre-assembled casseroles into the oven (sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole,what have you). Nestle them close, it's OK
Pop dinner rolls into the oven on an upper rack
While things are warming through in the oven, dump out potato water and mash potatoes. Cover until serving time.
Plate up your other dishes
Get someone to carve the turkey
Put turkey and stovetop dishes on table
Whisk now-warm side dishes out of oven and onto table

posted by Miko at 10:38 AM on November 17, 2008 [12 favorites]

Mashed Sweet Potatoes (from Cook's Illustrated).

Serves 4.
Cutting the sweet potatoes into slices of even thickness is important in getting them to cook at the same rate. A potato masher will yield slightly lumpy sweet potatoes; a food mill will make a perfectly smooth puree. The potatoes are best served immediately, but they can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and kept relatively hot for 30 minutes. This recipe can be doubled in a Dutch oven; the cooking time will need to be doubled as well.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large or 3 medium-small potatoes), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
pinch ground black pepper


1. Combine butter, cream, salt, sugar, and sweet potatoes in 3 to 4 quart saucepan; cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes fall apart when poked with fork, 35 to 45 minutes.

2. Off heat, mash sweet potatoes in saucepan with potato masher, or transfer mixture to hopper of food mill and process into warmed serving bowl. Stir in pepper; serve immediately.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:40 AM on November 17, 2008

These chipotle mashed sweet potatoes, from the annals of Alton Brown, are mad popular every year I make them. The trick, I've found, is definitely steaming them; you get a way better consistency (in the mash, especially) than boiling or baking.

Something simple: boil up some baby carrots, and glaze them with just a bit of butter and real maple syrup.
posted by General Malaise at 10:51 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

We always have @Willie0248's beans and a Waldorf salad as some of our sides. Nthing the microwave heated rolls.

We also always have sweet potato souffle. That needs the oven, but I bet it would heat up fine in the microwave if you made it ahead of time.

We always have a more limited version of @Sassyfras's relish tray for people to munch on pre sit-down (no beets or onions). I'm that guy who eats all the olives. Sorry, fellow guests! I can't help it.

Hey how about deviled eggs?
posted by Askr at 11:25 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for such extremely helpful answers. The only reason I am marking a best answer is because that's the dish I'm going for. Otherwise, all the other recipes and tips about planning are very much appreciated and will help out a lot for next year (and maybe even Christmas dinner which is a lot more celebrated here).
Thanks again!!
posted by like_neon at 4:37 AM on November 18, 2008

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