Thanksgiving dinner without an oven
November 15, 2011 9:01 AM   Subscribe

My roommate and I were planning to host Thanksgiving dinner for 12 people, but the gas has been turned off in our building and we don't know if it will be back on by next week and I have no stovetop or oven to use if it doesn't come back on. Help me figure out a plan B menu that I can cook with only a microwave, a toaster oven, and a 5 quart oval slow cooker.

My original plan was to make a bunch of sides and desserts, while my roommate took care of the turkey. If the gas doesn't come on, we will go to his girlfriend's house and cook the turkey there, but there isn't much room for reheating, so I want to find dishes that I can make ahead of time without the stove or oven, and can either be eaten cold or at room temperature, or heated up on the stove or in the microwave or toaster oven.

My original menu was:
-Carrot Ginger soup (I think I can make this in the slow cooker)
-Sausage and Cornbread stuffing (I already made the cornbread and have it in the freezer)
-Butternut Squash puree (I think I can roast the squash in the toaster oven, it will just take a long time to do it in batches)
-Apple Pie
-Cranberry Pie
-Pumpkin Cake

I would love to find ways to make versions of what I already had in mind, but I haven't shopped for ingredients yet (I'm still hoping the gas will come back on this week), so I am happy to make different sides and desserts that are easier to make with these new limitations. Any suggestions on how to work with what I've got are more than welcome!
posted by Neely O'Hara to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you pick up sterno and cheap foil chafing dishes? They're often available at dollar stores. That will let you offload some of the warm dishes to a side table or something, freeing up the limited cooking space you have.
posted by bcwinters at 9:15 AM on November 15, 2011

Squash in a toaster oven to feed this many people could take years. You can microwave it, and then make the puree (with butter and cream, etc.) on the stove at the other location.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:20 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can definitely roast the squash in the microwave and puree it in advance - my grandma has done it this way ever since the 70s. Then just reheat it for a few minutes on Turkey Day.

On preview...darn it Ideefixe! Just a little faster on the draw.
posted by slmorri at 9:21 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can make your Thanksgiving turkey in the slow-cooker, actually:

I've used this recipe - though I used nyafat and turkey-bacon instead of bacon - and it was awesome.

If you can, I'd recommend borrowing more slow-cookers for more options.

You can do your butternut squash puree using the microwave if you're ok not roasting it. Slice in half and de-seed, put face-down in pyrex baking dish, poke holes all over with a fork, fill dish 1/2" with water, microwave on high 8 minutes. Check for done-ness, if not fully soft inside, keep heating in the microwave in 2-minute spurts. Once the insides are soft you can scoop out the squash, put in a bowl, mash, add cream, etc.
posted by juniperesque at 9:25 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could do individual pie tarts since the crusts are available pre-frozen in their own tins, if you don't have a muffin tin small enough to fit. If you do, make pumpkin cupcakes too :)
posted by lizbunny at 9:26 AM on November 15, 2011

You could cook on a camp stove.
posted by ShooBoo at 9:31 AM on November 15, 2011

Last year, I made my stuffing in the slow cooker -- it worked great (though it did burn a little on the high setting -- I'd suggest using the low setting for a few hours).

Carrot Ginger soup should hold up well to reheating in the microwave, if you want to make it ahead of time.
posted by ourobouros at 9:34 AM on November 15, 2011

Another idea: my mother-in-law uses an electric roaster (along the lines of this one) for the turkey every year and it works pretty well. Frees the oven up for everything else all day and you can plug it in and have the bird cooking in some other room.
posted by jquinby at 10:02 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Along jquinby's comment, an electric hot plate / burner will only set you back about $20-40.
posted by ga$money at 10:47 AM on November 15, 2011

Trader Joe's has a lot of stuff that you can just heat up in the microwave. Do you have one near you?
posted by Yellow at 10:48 AM on November 15, 2011

If you go to a larger Asian supermarket, you'll probably find a table-top stove. These are designed for indoor cooking, and are usually powered by butane cans (which you can buy at the same place). They're cheap - like $20 for the stove and maybe $5 for a few cans of butane, which will last through many meals. You can use the pots and skillets you already have on top of them, and it'll probably ease your mind to just have a direct-heat cooking method available.

With this, you can quickly warm up your stuffing, make piping hot gravy (which will fix up room-temp turkey no problem), boil your soup if you need to use your crock pot for other reasons.

Squash - cube or small wedges, season, then cook in the microwave for about 10 mins (or until easily pierced with a fork). Then toss in the toaster oven to crisp up? The crisping only takes about 10 mins or so, so you could reasonably do a few batches.

Pies and cakes can (obviously) be served at room temp. Good luck!
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 10:51 AM on November 15, 2011

I lived without a stove for two years and had only what you have - microwave, toaster oven and crock pot. You can definitely make pies in the toaster oven but you will need to lower the temp by 25 degrees because the elements are so close to the food. Make sure your pie pans can fit comfortably in the toaster oven without touching the walls. I used to make my pecan pie in the toaster oven all the time. (caveat - I have not done a top crust pie like apple, you may have to cover with foil part way thru to keep from over browning)

The pumpkin cake sounds iffy, how tall does it get, what pan would you use, is a layer cake? I'm known for my German chocolate cake but I wouldn't try it is a toaster oven. Pumpkin pie pretty forgiving.

Sausage and cornbread stuffing will be fine but you'll have to make two/three smaller pans (9x9) instead of one large and since the turkey will be cooked elsewhere you'll have to use purchase broth. :-( These can be made in advance and re-heated in the microwave or toaster oven. Each pan of stuffing will take nearly an hour so plan accordingly. You can make your turkey stock (using necks or a leg or two) in the crock a few days in advance if you want to bother.

If you have an electric tea kettle/hot pot, boil water and pour into serving dishes to warm them before adding food, that'll help keep food hot.

Your menu only has three things that have to be served hot and one goes in the crock pot (soup) so you can heat one thing in the oven (stuffing, which will also give your house some Thanksgiving smell) and one thing in the microwave (puree). Remember, you don't have to heat all of the food at once, seconds can warm in the oven while everyone has their first serving.

I'm assuming you're making gravy at the girlfriend's from the turkey drippings, which you'll reheat in the microwave.
posted by shoesietart at 10:52 AM on November 15, 2011

pie IS forgiving
posted by shoesietart at 10:55 AM on November 15, 2011

Having been told a grim story of an all-household food poisoning incident resulting from sausage stuffing cooked in a slow cooker, I'd suggest that you either a) cook the stuffing in the toaster oven or b) do a non-sausage stuffing. Less-finicky stuffing, like a straight cornbread stuffing, would probably be fine in the slow cooker.

If you can round up one or two additional slow cookers to use, I've cooked potatoes (for mashing) in a slow cooker, and have used a smaller one to keep gravy hot while other things cooked.
posted by Kpele at 11:01 AM on November 15, 2011

You will need meat thermometers for all the dishes.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:31 AM on November 15, 2011

Ok, since you're doing the turkey elsewhere, this should be possible. I recommend either buying a second slow cooker or borrowing one, which should make this significantly easier.

-Carrot Ginger soup (I think I can make this in the slow cooker)
-----should have no problem making this in the slow cooker; just start early to make sure the flavors have time to meld

-Sausage and Cornbread stuffing (I already made the cornbread and have it in the freezer)
-----I would buy pre-cooked sausage to be sure to avoid any health issues; then make in your second slow cooker (that you will buy or borrow).

-Butternut Squash puree (I think I can roast the squash in the toaster oven, it will just take a long time to do it in batches)
----cut in half and microwave for about 15 mins; allow to cool slightly, then peel and puree; reheat in microwave

-Apple Pie
-----change this to smaller rustic apple tarts and make in the toaster oven (if you have a 3rd slow cooker...and really, they're quite cheap and I'm sure some guests would love a once-used slow cooker as an early xmas gift...make the apple filling in that before crisping in the toaster oven)

-Cranberry Pie
-----same as apple pie; could also try cranberry pie turnovers

-Pumpkin Cake
------this one will be more difficult, but if you get the right size pans for the toaster oven, and allow the t.o. to heat for at least 10 mins, I think it can work. Just use the toothpick test to check doneness periodically after 20ish mins at 325ish.

One additional point, based on your profile location of NYC - my friend was without cooking gas for about a month and after calling 311, was able to force her landlord to at least provide them with a double burner hot plate. Not ideal, but it can help in this situation. Note that you can file a 311 complaint about a building anonymously.

And finally, when nervous about the quality of the food you'll be making for a big crowd, I find it helpful to have a nice salumi/cheese plate and tons and tons of wine.

Good luck!
posted by melissasaurus at 12:58 PM on November 15, 2011

Three letter suggestion: B B Q !
posted by Land Ho at 7:13 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Three letter suggestion: B B Q !
posted by Land Ho at 7:13 PM on November 15 [+] [!]

That's actually a pretty genius suggestion if you can get a grill of some sort. Grilled squash and spatchcocked turkey would be totally awesome. The rest of the sides you can cook or keep warm in the microwave or toaster oven.
posted by helmutdog at 11:39 PM on November 15, 2011

You could certainly do pies in the toaster oven ahead, but you could also swap in deep fried hand pies. It's a southern thing, kind of like the ones they have at McDonalds. I believe that recipe cooks them fresh but you may be able to cook them from frozen, which means you could do them well ahead and then plop them in the oil after dinner.
posted by Diablevert at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2011

« Older Name that London restaurant.   |   Match this RAM with a motherboard Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.