Traveling in your RV during the holiday season? If you’re like my husband and me, you aren’t enthused by the one–size–fits–all approach of restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t feel you have to sacrifice a traditional, home–cooked dinner just because your space is limited. Here is a traditional menu you can prepare (with a little help from the store) within the confines of an RV kitchen.
(Serves 4, or 2 with leftovers)
- Roast Turkey breast with stuffing (or a roasted hen)
- Cranberry Sauce
- “Smashed” potatoes and gravy
- Green Beans
- Steamed carrots
- Apple or pumpkin pie
- Iced tea
Shop one or two days before the big day, and don’t be reluctant to take a little help from the store for items like gravy, rolls, and desert. If one of you prefers dark meat turkey, add turkey drumsticks to the list. It’s quicker to cook a turkey in parts than as a whole bird. Or skip the turkey and get a baking hen, giving you all the pieces on a smaller scale.
- Turkey breast (bone-in), baking chicken, or turkey cutlets—your choice
- Ready–to–eat celery sticks
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 bag seasoned bread cubes for dressing
- 1 quart low–sodium chicken or turkey broth
- 2 jars prepared turkey gravy
- 1 small package cooked bacon
- 1 8–ounce package Neufchatel or cream cheese
- 1 pint fresh cranberry sauce or relish (available in most deli or produce departments)*
- (*If you’re near a Kroger, try their Cranberry Celebration)
- 2 pounds Yukon gold or small red potatoes
- 1 pound baby cut carrots, ready–to–eat
- 1 can green beans (or fresh if preferred)
- 1 package King’s Hawaiian dinner rolls (or any that don’t require baking)
- Dessert of choice from the bakery department, along with either real whipped cream or a quart of vanilla ice cream
- Seasonings: poultry seasoning, apple pie spice, salt and pepper
- (Optional: Buy holiday paper plates, cups, and napkins to make the meal festive and the cleanup easier)
Equipment and Tools You Need
The essentials for cooking your Thanksgiving dinner in the RV are 1) some kind of oven, 2) a two–burner range top, and 3) a refrigerator. That’s it. If you have a tiny bit of counter space, you can prepare a satisfying, special meal for four (or two, and have leftovers to enjoy the next day!).
For preparing the holiday dinner, you will need one of the following: an electric roaster, a large slow cooker, a gas oven, or a convection grill/microwave oven (available in most new rigs); Or, alternatively, you could prepare part of the meal outdoors on a grill. You also need a covered one–quart saucepan, a one and a half or two–quart covered saucepan, a 10” skillet or electric skillet, a square oven–safe baking dish, aluminum foil, a cooking thermometer, a chef’s knife, and a kitchen timer. You’ll need the usual eating utensils and dishes, of course, but you should already have those on board.
The day before, brew your tea, cool, and refrigerate.
Regardless of cooking method for your turkey breast or roasting hen, prepare your bird first because it takes the longest time to cook. (Turkey cutlets don’t take as long and can be braised in a cup of the broth in a skillet until cooked through.) I like to stuff several celery sticks and a quartered onion inside the cavity of the bird or beneath the bird. Then I season the bird liberally with poultry seasoning. Regardless of how you choose to cook poultry, be sure the internal temperature reaches 175° before removing it to “rest.” Residual cooking will bring the temperature to the desired 185° by the time you serve. Reserve the cooked celery and onion.
In a square glass baking dish, spread the seasoned bread cubes. Soak with enough broth and any juices from cooking the poultry to moisten bread thoroughly. Chop the reserved cooked celery and onion. Mix it into the dressing. Bake the dressing in the oven or convection microwave about 30 minutes or until the top is crusty.
While the bird rests and the dressing bakes, wash the potatoes. Peeling Yukon gold or small red potatoes isn’t necessary as their skins are tender, which makes them a good choice for RV cooking. Quarter the potatoes and boil in the 1½– or 2– quart saucepan until fork–tender. On another range burner (1–quart saucepan), steam the carrots in a small amount of water over low heat until fork–tender (Cooking time depends on the cookware). Remove cooked carrots to a bowl, season with salt, pepper, and the apple pie spice, and cover with a piece of aluminum foil to maintain temperature. Rinse the saucepan and use to heat the canned green beans.
In a large skillet or roomy pan, heat the two jars of prepared gravy. Place the cooked poultry into the gravy, cover the pan or skillet, and reduce heat to its lowest setting. The poultry intensifies the gravy’s flavor, and the gravy keeps the poultry moist.
While the poultry and beans simmer, drain the cooked potatoes and add the Neufchatel cheese to melt. Using a fork or potato masher, work the potatoes into the cream cheese until creamed together. Lumps are okay, though, as these are “smashed” potatoes, not mashed potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. (optional: Crumble up three slices of the cooked bacon and mix into the smashed potatoes) If potatoes are too tight, add a little broth or milk to loosen the mixture.
By the time the carrots, potatoes, and green beans are cooked, the dressing should be browned. Remove the dressing and warm the Hawaiian rolls for about five minutes in the oven or 30 seconds in a microwave oven. Crumble four slices of the cooked bacon and stir into the cooked green beans. Salt and pepper only after tasting as the bacon will be salty.
Remove the cranberry sauce from the refrigerator, along with iced tea or beverages of choice. Dinner is ready!
While eating dinner, you may warm the pie in an oven or microwave. Slice and serve with a half-cup serving of the vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream if desired.
You’ll be thankful for your cozy, delicious dinner no matter where you park your rig. Happy Thanksgiving!
We’ve also have a blog piece on Cooking in Small Spaces! Check it out!