Dorm Dining: Homesick for the Holidays

Dorm Dining: Homesick for the Holidays

The holiday season kicks off with Thanksgiving in just over a week, but now that it’s the middle of November in Chicago, many of us are being reminded of the slight disappointment that can tinge our festive cheer with shades of grey. ‘Tis the season for sleet snow, premature Christmas commercials, and the realization that many of us just can’t make it home for this particular holiday. But even if you’re spending Thanksgiving break apart from your family, you don’t have to miss out on what makes the holiday so great: food!

“But wait!” you cry. “I’ve never cooked a turkey before! And every holiday movie I’ve ever seen makes it out to be the kind of task only an overwhelmed mom in a novelty apron can take on!” Well, have no fear, because we’ve created a perfect dorm-sized Thanksgiving feast that will have the rest of the leftover students on your floor clamoring at your door in hopes of snagging a plateful of homestyle deliciousness. You’ll be crowned the saint of Thanksgiving when you spread holiday cheer with every serving you share.

(Note: Sharing is not optional due to the fact that it is Thanksgiving)

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast


1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6 1/2 to 7 lbs.

3 cloves minced garlic

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup chicken stock


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. You can get a disposable roasting pan at most grocery stores (try Jewel Osco).
  2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat under the skin. Spread the remaining paste evenly on top of the skin. Pour the chicken stock into the bottom of the roasting pan.
  3. Roast the turkey for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest and meatiest areas of the breast (thermometers can be found at most grocery stores, and yes, they really are much better than those plastic pop-up thermometers that come with the turkey). Test in several places to insure it is cooked through. If the skin is over-browning, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Do not throw away the juices in the pan.

Turkey Gravy


1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups pan drippings from the finished turkey, supplemented with chicken stock


  1. When the turkey is done, drain the drippings into a cup and allow the fat to separate to the top. Remove the fat with a spoon and discard. Supplement the drippings with chicken stock so that the amount of liquid equals 2 cups.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter of medium-low heat. Add the pepper to the melted butter.
  3. Slowly add the flour, whisking constantly as you sprinkle it in. This is the roux and it is what will thicken the gravy to the right consistency.
  4. Once the flour and butter are completely incorporated (this may take a minute or two), slowly add the drippings to the pan while constantly whisking.
  5. Allow the gravy to cook for several minutes, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened. Serve immediately or leave on very low heat until you are ready to serve.

Classic Stuffing


1 small onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/3 cup butter, plus 4 tablespoons for finishing in oven

1/4 teaspoon ground sage

5 cups bread cubes (pre-dried bread cubes can be found in most grocery store’s bakery section)

1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme

1-2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and sage. Cook over medium-low while stirring until tender (do not brown), about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Add onion mixture, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Pour broth overtop until cubes are moist (but not soggy), and gently toss. You may not need all of the broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Place mixture in a serving dish, place a few additional small butter pats on top, and cover with foil.
  4. Place in the oven with the turkey when you have around 45 minutes left for the turkey to cook. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until browned on top.