In the United States, unity has always seemed precarious, a myth as tempting as the oft-repeated fable of the first Thanksgiving. But there’s nothing false about giving thanks. In a year marked by a pandemic and innumerable losses, food is a salve we can count on. Rooted in indigenous ingredients and comforting classics, a Thanksgiving meal is a reminder to be grateful for our intertwined histories as we imagine a more equitable future.
This time around, large gatherings, with family members flying in from across the country or driving from several states away, will be replaced by smaller affairs. Some people may celebrate solo, others with family or roommates they’ve shared quarters with for months. Perhaps there will be an outdoor cocktail hour with neighbors, if the weather permits, or dessert around a fire pit. There will be lots of phone calls, FaceTime and Zoom rooms. It may be another opportunity for meaningful conversations, uncomfortable or not. We may feel our losses more acutely, but we can be thankful for our memories of holidays past and the relationships we have with family, blood or chosen.
When we realized all the ways the pandemic would affect our holiday celebrations, our colleague Olga Massov suggested we offer readers a slate of Thanksgiving recipes made on sheet pans. Since we’re already cooking so often, a sheet-pan dinner can streamline the traditional, laborious, multicourse meal without sacrificing any of its comforting flavors.
Though all of these dinners are designed to be a whole meal for at least four guests, they’re easily augmented. Serve them with your favorite cranberry sauce, fluffy rolls or crunchy green salad. Make an extra side (or three) of cornbread pudding, roasted butternut squash or over-the-top macaroni and cheese. Have a bowl of rich pan juices or velvety gravy ready, and whatever you do, don’t forget the pie.
Harissa Turkey Legs With Sumac Sweet Potatoes
Rather than cook a whole, large turkey, consider roasting just the legs in a bright-and-spicy harissa glaze, surrounded by sumac-flavored sweet potatoes and torn-bread dressing. Dark meat lovers will dig this budget-friendly sheet pan from Becky Krystal.
Duck With Orange-Sriracha Glaze, Figs, Grapes and Hand-Torn Croutons
A roasted whole duck, brushed with orange-sriracha glaze, shares its luscious drippings with potatoes, red grapes, onions, figs and crisped bread — all easily coming together to create this celebration-worthy meal from Olga Massov.
Persian-Style Stuffed Delicata Squash With Broccolini and Carrots
Delicata squash, filled with the sweet and savory flavors of a jewel-toned stuffing, roasts alongside cinnamon-dusted carrots and bright broccolini in this vegetarian sheet-pan dinner from Joe Yonan.
Turkey Breast Roulade With Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans and Shallots
This healthy one-pan feast from Ellie Krieger leans heavily on Thanksgiving tradition with a turkey breast roulade stuffed with a medley of cranberries, orange zest, thyme and pecans; and nestled with sweet potatoes, green beans and shallots.
Chicken With Hasselback Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
Carve the whole, herby chicken at the table, if you like, and serve it with lemony roasted Brussels sprouts and garlicky Hasselback potatoes — crunchy on top, creamy inside — with this recipe from Ann Maloney.
Thanksgiving 2020: Recipes, meal plans and tips
Tips: How to make your own pie crust | How to make better use of your butcher | How to make a no-stress gravy | How to manage your oven | How to make an entire Thanksgiving feast in your Instant Pot | How to wrestle Thanksgiving away from your parents