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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
My family has a fabulous tradition of popping open a bottle of good champagne, and going around the table before dinner, toasting what each person is thankful for. We eat the American classics: roast turkey (the traditional beneficiary of the last toast) and pumpkin pie (at my insistence) and corn bread. And we temper it with some French flavor to keep the rest of the family happy: potato gratin, apple cider sorbet (contentious!), and haricots verts.
But now I live in London. My family is an ocean away. My husband is English. And I go to work like it's any other Thursday. But even though I come home at 8 o'clock, tired and hungry, I can't let the day go unmarked. We still uncork a cold bottle of champagne and say our own version of unorthodox grace, but for the two of us—especially at that hour—it's just not worth a pulling together a whole turkey with all the trimmings.
So this year I'm doing Thanksgiving for two, in one pan, in one hour. I start with a turkey roast, off the bone, and cook it with thyme, orange, and lemon. In the same pan go the carrots (I found some gorgeous purple ones), which become olive oil-smashed carrots—a festive fall upgrade on mashed potatoes. And on the other side of the pan, Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, which come out singed and festive. A simple jus brews at the bottom of the pan, mingling with the sweet carrots, tart citrus, and savory thyme and sprouts. After an hour or so in the oven, the turkey is ready to slice, the carrots are ready to be quickly puréed, and the Brussels sprouts are soft and charred. If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll stew together some cranberries and ginger jam, to serve alongside.
By ten o'clock, I'm on the couch, licking pumpkin pie off my fork, and watching TV in true Thanksgiving style. No, it's not the Thanksgiving I'm used to, but it's marvelous, and very appropriate for this moment of my life. And it's that life I'm thankful for, even if it requires a little bit of holiday creativity.
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