We Planned a Decadent Menu for Your Intimate Thanksgiving Dinner

Planning a small, intimate Thanksgiving? Then we have the feast for you.

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This year, you may be celebrating Thanksgiving a little differently, with a smaller number of place settings at the table. While that doesn’t necessarily mean you should forgo making the traditional dishes that define the holiday, this year could be a good time to think unconventionally about the feast. Yes, we’re saying ditch the whole cooked turkey!

If that sounds like blasphemy, hear us out. Ask your local butcher to make cutlets from a turkey breast. Along with some prosciutto, a rich, smoky cheese like provolone, fresh sage and some pantry staples, you can put together a simple, delicious turkey saltimbocca in a fraction of the time you’d spend fussing over a bird. Tradition can always be restored with your sides and desserts. Here we have a tried-and-true stuffing recipe from an old Junior League of Milwaukee cookbook, and some roasted fall vegetables – both of which will lure everyone to the kitchen just to inhale the tantalizing aroma.

Perhaps the best part of our menu for four is how little time you’ll need to spend in the kitchen, giving you the opportunity to hang out, catch up with loved ones over Zoom and get some fresh air. So embrace the differences that this Thanksgiving presents and enjoy!

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Turkey Saltimbocca

This riff on chicken saltimbocca tastes like you spent more than the 30 minutes or so it takes to assemble it and pop it into the oven.

 

Photo by Tom Grimm

4 turkey cutlets
4 slices of provolone or fontina cheese
4 large slices of prosciutto (preferably prosciutto di Parma)
1⁄2 cup white wine or vermouth
3⁄4 cup chicken stock
4 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium shallot, diced
3 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Lightly season each cutlet with salt and pepper. Lay cutlets out
    flat and place cheese on top without going over the edges of the turkey. Roll each piece of turkey up as tightly as possible, then wrap in a slice of prosciutto. Repeat until all the cutlets are stuffed and wrapped.
  • Secure each piece of turkey with kitchen twine: Wrap once around the center and then tie.
  • In a skillet, sauté 2 tablespoons of butter and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the turkey on both sides, approximately 7-8 minutes. Place cooked turkey into a medium-sized baking dish.
  • Add diced shallot and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan, sauté a few minutes and then deglaze the pan with wine and bring to a simmer. Then add the stock and sage leaves. Bring to a simmer and then pour over the turkey. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes until the turkey is completely cooked through and the sauce has thickened a bit.

Adapted from a chicken saltimbocca recipe from Cheftini.com


Roasted Autumn Vegetables

With its vibrant colors and flavors, this dish embodies the season.

 

Photo by Tom Grimm

3⁄4 lb. peeled carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
1⁄2 lb. peeled parsnips, cut into 1-by-2-inch pieces
1 lb. sweet potato, washed, peeled and cut into 1-by-2-inch pieces
1⁄2 lb. purple potatoes, washed and dried, cut in half if some are on the larger side
1⁄2 lb. of Brussels sprouts, washed and cut in half (or quartered if they’re large)
3 shallots, outer skin removed, cut in half lengthwise
1 head of garlic, skin removed and cloves separated
4 tbsp. olive oil
11⁄2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. dried cranberries, rehydrated in boiling water

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. A pan with a rim is ideal.
  • Place all the prepped vegetables, shallots and garlic cloves in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil, salt, pepper and toss. Arrange the mixture in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until all vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Check every 10 minutes or so and rotate the veggies with a spoon or set of tongs so they brown on each side. Remove from oven, top with cranberries and toss.
  • Transfer roasted vegetables to a large serving platter and serve warm.

Recipe developed by Ann Christenson


Pennsylvania- Style Stuffing

The smoky bacon combined with earthy, peppery sage will make your kitchen smell wonderful.

 

Photo by Tom Grimm

1⁄2 lb. breakfast sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces
1⁄4 lb. bacon, diced
1 small onion
1⁄2 cup chopped celery
1⁄4 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. fresh sage
1 tbsp. fresh thyme
2 cups crusty white bread, cubed 3⁄4 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook sausage and bacon until crisp and browned.
  • Drain off the fat, leaving a couple tablespoons in the pan. Add onion, celery, mushrooms, apple, parsley and herbs. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in bread cubes and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake in a covered dish for about 30-40 minutes, and then uncovered for 15-20 minutes more or until crusty and golden on top.

Adapted from Gatherings: A Collection of Highly Entertaining Menus by the Junior League of Milwaukee, 1990


Perfect Pies

Looking for something to leave in the hands of the professionals? Here are several local bakers to hit up for fresh-baked pies and other scrumptious desserts.

 

Photo by Getty Images

Lulu Café & Bar

2265 S. HOWELL AVE. 

Offering apple, cherry, blueberry, pumpkin and Southern pecan pies ($20-$23 each). Order between Nov. 1 and Nov. 23, and pick up the day before Thanksgiving. 

North Shore Boulangerie 

4401 N. OAKLAND AVE., SHOREWOOD

Seasonal treats include specialty tarts and tartlets (pumpkin/fall spices, cranberry and apple; tartlets $2-$2.50, tarts $11-$14) as well as macarons in pumpkin, apple spice, cranberry and maple flavors ($2-$2.50). 

Aggie’s Bakery & Cake Shop

7328 W. GREENFIELD AVE., WEST ALLIS

A vast assortment of pie flavors – pumpkin, Dutch apple, caramel apple, chocolate cream and more ($14-$20) – and cakes ($23-$30). There’s even a cake decorated to look like a roasted turkey. 


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s November issue.

Find it on newsstands or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.