There's no shame in buying a pre-made feast. Why risk ruining your holiday and everyone else's if you're not a cook?
Before I was bestowed the turkey plates about eight years ago (a symbolic passing of the hostess apron in my family), there were only two Thanksgivings I remember my mom not cooking.
One was the year her kitchen was being renovated, and the new tile was still curing. The other was the year she had a broken wrist (with some gnarly pins screwed holding it together), and I ended up cooking it myself. I was probably 20 years old and, while I could find my way around a kitchen, I was not that experienced. I took on the challenge expecting my older brother, who owned a restaurant, to help out. Yeah, right. The whole feast pretty much fell to me and my crippled mom. (I think he might have mashed the potatoes when he finally showed up late that Thursday afternoon.) She directed from the sidelines and helped me execute what turned out to be a respectable version of our traditional feast, but without that gross Russian gelatin mold thing she always made. Totally a fifth-tier food.
For me, the classic dishes I had grown up eating for Thanksgiving were essential to enjoying the holiday, so it was worth the effort to just go ahead and make them. For a lot of people who don't have an amazing stuffing recipe or care whether the mashed potatoes are made with warmed buttermilk, buying a pre-made feast is a great option. For my family, we're such whiny snobs that the year the kitchen was being done, and we bought a pre-made feast from a gourmet grocery in Atlanta, nobody was happy. My mom ended up in my brother's tiny kitchen trying to doctor the food to make it taste like hers. Didn't work.
But that's my crazy family. Like I said, if you don't expect it to taste just like your mom's — if you sincerely hope it tastes nothing like your mom's — then pick up a prepared meal and enjoy the next two weeks of your life. I'll be making lists, shopping, baking pies, and generally freaking out a little bit. Consider yourself smarter than me.
Here's a handy list of our favorite places that are offering gourmet-to-go Thanskgiving dinners and sides. Feel free to post other options that I may have missed.
Ted's Butcherblock: Ted's will cook you a whole turkey for a $25 fee (that's in addition to the cost of the actual turkey), and they have a serious list of traditional sides that they've put their own twist to: Country ham and white bean soup, a green bean and pimento cheese casserole (sounds like a great new tradition to me), roasted beets, double cream herbed smashed potatoes, whiskey butterscotch yams, classic turkey gravy, fresh cranberry sauce, spiced carrot cake, pecan pie, and pumpkin pie. You can pick up on Tuesday or Thursday Thanksgiving week. The prices range from $12/quart to $8/lb.
Cru Catering will let you pick up the entire meal on Nov. 24 at their 1784 Harmon St. location.
Baby Arugula Salad
Duck Confit, Julienne Tomato,
Candy Pecan and Toasted Cumin Pumpkin Seeds
Whole Fried Turkey
Hazelnut Country Ham Corn Bread Stuffing,
Roasted Herb and Garlic Fingerling Potatoes
Caramelized Braised Brussel Sprouts, Pancetta
Apple Crumble Tort
Carmel Apples and Spiced Walnuts
You can't get your turkey at Boulevard Diner, but they will be happy to supply with every side your holiday table might need.
For $10 per quart, you can get the following popular Boulevard dishes:
Okra & Tomatoes
Squash & Onions
And a half a pan of green bean casserole will cost you $30.
Whole Foods is making it super easy to not strain yourself this Thanksgiving. Head to wholefoods.com/shop and simply order what you need, from turkeys to sides to a vegan dinner for one.
For $89.99, you can get an entire pre-cooked dinner for 6-8 people with an herb-rubbed turkey, homestyle mashed potatoes, Southern cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry orange relish, and gravy.