ThanksgivingWhat to CookMake-Ahead Meals

My Thanksgiving Menu for the Train (& for Two)

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When my boyfriend and I decided to go to Montreal for Thanksgiving (sorry Mom!), I had the brainy idea to take the 12-hour train there—on Thanksgiving day.

The rolls that will not be available in the dining cart.
The rolls that will not be available in the dining cart. Photo by Bobbi Lin

I dreamt of bringing meaty sandwiches and snacky things—some cider being the most Thanksgiving-appropriate part of the haul. But, unlike my family who has sushi for Thanksgiving, my partner likes every single part of the Thanksgiving menu. When I asked what three dishes were nonnegotiable, he was unable to answer.


More: The Thanksgiving menu that I will not be bringing on the train.

I took this as a challenge to 1) learn to like Thanksgiving food by making versions I'd like; 2) try to cook the entire menu for two people; and 3) make the meal entirely transportable and able to sit out of the fridge for many hours. This kind of challenge is fun for me, you see.

Unacceptable Thanksgiving meal, apparently.
Unacceptable Thanksgiving meal, apparently. Photo by James Ransom

I originally was going to make just one salad and pretend it checked all the boxes, but then folks on the Hotline started getting me excited about what macgyvering is possible.


Here's where I landed: It isn't 100 dishes, but I think (hope) it is at least vaguely reminiscent of a Thanksgiving menu that comes out of the oven hot and is eaten on stable ground.

Butternut Squash on Toast

Sort of sweet potato casserole.
Sort of sweet potato casserole. Photo by Eric Moran

Here I check off two boxes: orange food and mushy starch. This oniony, jammy butternut squash purée will taste good at room temperature and live nicely in a to-go container, while a baguette is an essential to any train trip in my mind. Okay, I will also bring salami to eat on the bread—it's a long train ride. And bonus: I already made the purée and froze it to free my Wednesday night up for making other dishes, such as...

Sourdough Stuffing with Kale, Bacon, and Turkey Sausage

Sturdy greens for a sturdy stuffing.
Sturdy greens for a sturdy stuffing. Photo by James Ransom

I always want stuffing to be more like a panzanella, where the bread maintains its integrity and stands up to the other ingredients. The thought of stuffing sitting on the train, getting soggier, is not something that I want to participate in, so I'm opting for Suzanne Goin's stuffing because, as it says in the headnote:

“There is no egg and no real attempt to emulsify it like your mom’s stuffing—it’s loose, laid-back and doing its own thing, California-style.”

The turkey sausage is my weak attempt to get turkey on the menu. I may swap in some roasted turkey instead of the sausage, or I may end up roasting off a breast to eat on its own. Some parts of Thanksgiving (like the new girlfriend, the turkey doneness, what time you'll fall asleep) should be fun surprises.

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apple and Endive

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

Because I always like something raw and crunchy to offset the mush of Thanksgiving, this year the brussels sprouts are getting shaved instead of sautéed and paired with other crunchy ingredients: apple and endive. To keep the brussels from browning, I'm planning on dressing the salad with something really citrusy. While lemon is my default, EmilyC likes lime on her brussels sprouts salads and I'm tempted to try it out.

Pumpkin Pie Crumble

Two desserts in one.
Two desserts in one. Photo by James Ransom

My boyfriend said he "has to" have pumpkin pie and pecan pie, and I am not making two pies. I've been wanting to make the Pumpkin Pie Crumble ever since I spotted it in our baking book, and it has pecans and it has pumpkin, so I'm sort of killing two birds. Plus, I baked it in an 8-inch square pan (with no issues) and cut them into bars for easy transport. They're chilling in the freezer, getting ready for their big voyage to Canada.

Many Drinks

Photo by MollyandBrandon

There will be cider, and whiskey, and wine, and sparkling grape juice (another nonnegotiable).

Who is going to carry all of this I do not know.

What am I forgetting? What base haven't I covered? Help me in the comments.

Tags: on the go, make ahead, thanksgiving