When it comes to Thanksgiving cooking, some think it's difficult by design.
"I feel like we're supposed to get stressed about Thanksgiving. It's part of our national identity," says Melissa Clark, the best-selling cookbook author and New York Times food columnist. "I mean, I love cooking large meals and I do love cooking Thanksgiving, [but] it does stress me out just a little bit."
But if you're feeling especially nervous about prepping a meal that day, and if if it's your debut cooking the holiday dinner, Clark says her Sheet Pan Thanksgiving dinner is a simple way to go.
"I love a sheet-pan meal. I didn't invent them, but I was an early adopter," she says. "It's a great way of getting a fast meal on the table. So if you're looking for [a] last-minute solution, this might be for you."
The recipe comes from Clark's latest book, Dinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals, which is all about meals that can be prepared in one dish.
To further cut down on stress, Clark says preparation is key, even when prepping a relatively simple meal.
Work early to prepare certain items — like pie crusts and cranberry sauce. And if you plan to shop on or just before Thanksgiving, make sure to have your list ready.
But above all else, Clark says to enjoy the holiday — and the cooking will get easier over time.
"Your first Thanksgiving dinner is a milestone and you should treat it like a milestone. ... Don't judge yourself too harshly."
Reprinted from Dinner In One. Copyright © 2022 by Melissa Clark. Photograph copyright © 2022 by Linda Xiao. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
Sheet Pan Thanksgiving
Roast turkey breast, maple-glazed sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts
1 boneless turkey breast (2 to 2½ pounds)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large garlic cloves, finely grated
¼ cup mayonnaise
2½ tablespoons za'atar
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1-inch-thick wedges
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
1. Heat the oven to 400ºF. If the turkey breast comes tied, untie it. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Season the turkey all over with 1½ teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper, then rub all over with the garlic.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and za'atar. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the za'atar mayo to a separate small bowl and brush that all over the turkey. Set the remaining za'atar mayo aside. Let the turkey sit at room temperature for 15 minutes while you prepare everything else.
3. In a large bowl, toss together sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the maple syrup, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and the red pepper flakes. Place turkey on a rimmed sheet pan and arrange the potatoes in a single layer around it. Roast for 20 minutes.
4. In the same bowl (no need to wash it), toss the Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the cumin seeds, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Give the potatoes a toss after roasting for 20 minutes, and push the wedges to one side of the pan to make room for the Brussels sprouts. Add the sprouts and continue to roast until the sprouts and potatoes are golden brown and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey registers 145ºF, 20 to 30 minutes longer (for a total turkey roasting time of 40 to 50 minutes). Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
5. While the turkey is resting, whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon oil into the reserved za'atar mayo; taste and add a little more oil and salt, if needed. Season to taste with lemon juice. Serve the za'atar mayo alongside the turkey and vegetables.
Swap it out
Sliced acorn or butternut squash, cut 1 inch thick, can stand in for the sweet potatoes. Broccoli florets or broccolini can replace the Brussels sprouts.