Chicken instead of turkey? An easier path…

I’ve posted a few times about making the switch several years ago from cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving to cooking this far easier chicken, sage and sausage dish.  Nigella Lawson has this basic recipe with slight variations in more than one spot on the internet.


There are several things I particularly like about this recipe.  Since it marinates overnight, most of the prep is done the day before.  The combo of sausage, sage, onions, and lemons in the mix gives it the flavors I use with a turkey (sage in my herb rub and lemons and onions in the cavity) with far less work.

Since the flavors are the same, it blends very well with the other traditional stuff like cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.  On Thanksgiving all I have to do is place all the already-prepared stuff in the pan and cook.  And the marinade creates a bit of sauce that means I don’t need to make gravy.

As usual, I’ve made a few changes.  I always brine poultry these days, so I made the brine last night and the chicken is in it as I write.  She cuts up a whole chicken.  I use skinless, boneless chicken breasts.   She puts in sweet sausage, I use spicy.  The original recipe I had called for English mustard instead of the dry mustard in the one to which I linked above and I always add Dijon instead of either.

One change I keep fiddling with is the temperature and length of cooking.  To me, her 425 degree oven setting is awfully high and I’ve found it definitely too high for leaving the dish in for 75 minutes.  I’ve varied between lowering the temperature and keeping the long cooking time or keeping the high temperature and taking it out sooner.

Especially with skinless, boneless chicken, at 425 it barely takes 30 minutes to cook it thoroughly.  If you left it for 75 it would be either like shoe leather or burned to a crisp, not sure which…  The dish works pretty well with the variations on temp and time so to some extent I work it to conform with whatever my timing needs are or to get the temp to match other dishes that need to cook at the same time.

Because the boneless breasts take so much less time to cook than bone-in pieces, I put the sausages in the pan first and cook 25-30 minutes without the chicken, then add the chicken and marinade.  Another nice piece is nothing sticks up over the top of my roasting pan so I don’t have to put that shelf way down and it leaves more room on the lower shelf.

I made dessert a few days ago and divided it into containers in the freezer.  And this year I decided to go super easy and bought a couple of veggies sides and cranberry sauce from Trader Joe’s deli plus some mashed sweet potatoes from the grocery.  I’m about to make dressing patties (in patties you get lots of extra crunch all the way around the outside) and tonight I’ll make the marinade.

Tomorrow all I have to do is throw the meats in a pan and bake and then we can make up plates of the other stuff to microwave as soon as the chicken is done.

I’m pleased to be doing a partially home-cooked meal again, even though we SO enjoyed the meal I picked up from the food co-op’s Thanksgiving hot buffet last year when I just couldn’t do the cooking.  If you’re feeling pressed and pressured to get it all done, I highly recommend this easy dish




3 thoughts on “Chicken instead of turkey? An easier path…

  1. Pingback: Thankful… Thanksgiving… | Not Just Sassy on the Inside

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