Real-Life Testers: Speedy Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
We enlisted in the help of Rich Castellano, to whip up our Speedy Thanksgiving menu and share with us if it fulfilled on everything we promised. Read on to find out what Rich thought and the personal touches he added to our menu to fit his gathering!
Speed Through Supper
Real-life tester Rich Castellano, 33 from Staten Island NY, had one goal in mind when he set out to make our Speedy Thanksgiving menu: Make a delicious dinner, quickly, so he could spend more time with his two young girls! And that's exactly what he got.
Timing is Everything
When he saw our five-recipe feast his first reaction was worry that the flavors wouldn't develop in such a short cooking time. But he would soon find out -- after many empty plates and second helpings -- that he had nothing to fear.
Starting from Scratch
To test the speedy promise of the menu, Rich didn't read over any of the directions before the big day other than the ingredient list. His biggest asset: Our Feast in a Flash Timeline from the magazine, saying it was a "great guide for the day."
Rich's oldest daughter saddled up right next to dad to help out. Her tasks included brushing the turkey with butter, salting some of the food and whisking the cream.
First things first: Rich takes our timeline's advice and preps the turkey. Cooking a turkey breast instead of a whole bird cut his cooking time in half! "People who generally aren't big fans of white turkey meat ate it, loved it and went back for seconds!" Rich says.
With the turkey in the oven, Rich next focuses on to the sauce. He starts by chopping the onions and cooking them in a saucepan until soft.
Tester's Tip: Rich says next time he'll prep the salad and chop the onions and celery beforehand for an even more relaxing pace.
Once Rich adds cherries to his sauce, it becomes a deep red color. He also adds syrup, chipotle, mustard and honey. Rich and his brother-in-law both love food with a kick so they were fan-favorites of our spicy sauce, however he says they'll have a tamer alternative, too, next time for their wives.
Premade cornbread was a major time-saver and so delicious that Rich says he'll be adding this recipe to the annual lineup, with one tweak: They'll replace the chorizo with their favorite Italian sausage.
Cool as a Cauliflower
The biggest surprise for Rich was the cauliflower. "At first, I felt really guilty cooking something in the microwave, but I'm definitely going to use this recipe again." He described the final dish as "simple and so rich" and hands down his favorite.
Salad with Style
The salad was super simple and Rich was a major fan of the dressing. "I couldn't find pepitas at the grocery story so I substituted with roasted salted sunflower kernels. The seeds added a nice crunch!"
Dish It Out
Now, on to dessert! The chocolate filling is the first (and best) part of this treat.
Lucky for Rich, his daughter was an expert tester for him!
A Tasty Pastry
Puff pastry makes dessert extra-special. Use frozen shells and all you have to do is stick 'em in the oven.
Time for Turkey!
Swap in the puff pastry when you swap out the turkey. How easy!
To the Table
Rich's table setting set the tone for the beautiful and flavorful feast to come.
A Clock Never Lies
When all is said and done, Rich's meal took a little over two hours, but he says that's probably because he was busy catching up with his company and cooking with his daughter.
But no one seemed to mind! The table was split on if they liked the stuffing or the cauliflower best, which is why they're both being added Rich's menu this year.
After the main course, Rich filled the cream puffs to serve for dessert.
When the kids weren't feeling the puffs, Rich had a backup plan! "I scooped up some of the extra cream in a bowl and sprinkled it with the semi-sweet chocolate chips. They loved it!"
What are you waiting for? The clock's ticking!