Thanksgiving Cooking for Two: Beer Basted Turkey and Olive Pecan Sourdough Stuffing

November 22, 2015

My husband and I often celebrate Thanksgiving by ourselves a few days before we join our families for the big meal. This year I decided to share some recipes for those who might also be doing some Thanksgiving cooking for two. This is the first post in the series. Be sure to check out the side dishes that go with this main course. 

Thanksgiving Cooking for Two | Fake Food Free
I’ll be the first to admit that Thanksgiving isn’t my favorite holiday of the season. It doesn’t make much sense, though. I love fall and pumpkins and I love to cook. Seems like I’d be all over a holiday that has those things well covered. 

I can offer no explanation other than my fondness of a winter wonderland, warm cocktails, cookies and cheesy Christmas movies. It simply beats out Thanksgiving every time. 

Despite it not being my favorite, I still like to cook and I like to get creative. We typically travel to the homes of our families for Thanksgiving dinners. (Yes, dinners. As in two in one day.) There, the family has traditional covered. But it rarely satisfies my need to try some new and creative. 

Beer Basted Turkey with Gravy and Green Olive Pecan Sourdough Stuffing | Thanksgiving Cooking for Two | Fake Food Free

When it comes to food for the holidays, I’m a believer in keeping at least one tradition and adding something new each year to keep things exciting. So to try my something new, I usually do that when cooking for just  myself and my husband.

The problem is that when you have two more meals on the horizon, having any leftovers at all puts you at risk for getting Thanksgiving-ed out. So this year, I concentrated on creating a Thanksgiving meal that truly was just for two. We came to the table hungry, but we had no leftovers. Except a little pie, but I’ll get to that later. And who doesn’t want a little extra pie, right? 

It seems that there are also lots of others out there searching for a bit more information on Thanksgiving cooking for two. And why not? Personally, I think celebrating with two is sorely undervalued. I look forward to it every year. 

Beer Basted Turkey with Gravy and Green Olive Pecan Sourdough Stuffing | Thanksgiving Cooking for Two | Fake Food Free

The turkey is always the biggest challenge. For that I turn to breast loins. No, it’s the not the whole bird and has little fat, but when cooked well, it makes a good substitute when you want a small portion. Being big beer fans around here, I incorporated that for basting the meat and what was leftover infused the rich, dark gravy. The loins are great for slicing so that it can be served in small medallions, covered in gravy with a bit of extra gravy on the side. 

Beer Basted Turkey with Gravy | Thanksgiving Cooking for Two | Fake Food Free

Now that we have the turkey covered, lets move on to my favorite of the meal, the stuffing. Stuffing is one of those dishes that can be made hundreds of ways according to so many different preferences. I prefer a drier, crumbly stuffing and the skillet is the perfect place for making this. Plus, no baking time required. 

Green Olive Pecan Sourdough Stuffing | Thanksgiving Cooking for Two | Fake Food Free

Sourdough bread makes the BEST stuffing. I usually like a bit of dried fruit, like cranberries, in mine, but my husband isn’t much a fan for sweet. This year I added one of his favorites, green olives. Chopped pecans added just a little bit of the sweetness I was looking for. 

 Green Olive Pecan Sourdough Stuffing | Thanksgiving Cooking for Two | Fake Food Free

Together the turkey with hints of pale ale in a rich gravy paired with the tangy sourdough stuffing are a great main course for Thanksgiving dinner. 


Beer Basted Turkey Breast Loin with Gravy
Makes: 2 servings
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  1. 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  2. 1/3 to 1/2 lb. turkey breast loin
  3. 1/2 cup pale ale
  4. 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  5. 1 1/2 cups poultry or vegetable stock
  6. 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  7. 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  8. 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
  9. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. In a deep skillet (I use cast iron), melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the turkey loin and cook for 5 minutes, turning often, until all sides are nicely browned.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and carefully pour in the beer. Slowly increase the heat back to medium. Spoon the beer over the turkey as it cooks. Turn it often with tongs so that it browns evenly. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is no longer pink in center and fully cooked through. Remove the turkey from the skillet and reduce the heat to low.
  3. Sprinkle the flour into the skillet and whisk to create a paste as you scrape up bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 45 seconds.
  4. Pour in the stock as you continue to whisk and increase the heat to medium. The gravy should begin to bubble and thicken. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the thyme and parsley, salt (to taste) and the black pepper.
  6. To serve, slice the turkey and drizzle with gravy. Serve with extra gravy on the side.
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Green Olive Pecan Sourdough Stuffing
Makes: 2 servings
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  1. 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  2. 1/4 cup sliced celery
  3. 1/4 cup chopped onion
  4. 1/4 cup chopped green pimento-stuffed olives
  5. 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  6. 1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  7. 4 slices sourdough bread, toasted and cubed
  8. 1/2 cup poultry or vegetable stock
  9. 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  10. Salt (optional)
  1. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the celery and onion. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the olives and pecans. Cook for 2 more minutes and sprinkle in the poultry seasoning.
  2. Add the bread cubes, break them up as you stir. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the stock. Continue to stir to heat the stock and keep breaking up the bread pieces as they absorb the stock. Cook for 1 to 2 more minutes.
  3. Stir in the pepper. Add salt only to taste as the olives add saltiness and you may not need any at all. Serve warm.
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So there you have it, the turkey and stuffing a already done. Brussels Sprouts in Parmesan Garlic Butter and Smoky Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Sugared Pepitas are coming up next. 

More Thanksgiving Cooking for Two:

Brussels Sprouts in Parmesan Garlic Butter
Smoky Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Sugared Pepitas
Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Pie


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  • suki November 23, 2015 at 11:29 am

    such a great idea for a blog series. 🙂 and yum!

    • Lori November 23, 2015 at 11:51 am

      Thank you! I’m so glad that people are enjoying it. Making a small amount can be challenging! 🙂