When the weather cools off in November, I’m ready to start eating turkey and stuffing. Anyone else get that craving for Thanksgiving goodies early? Try my Cheaters’ Thanksgiving Casserole! Here’s an easy 0ne-pot meal that you can do in a slow cooker or in a covered dish in the oven, or even on top of the stove. All the flavors of Thanksgiving are here for a comforting supper, or a party with friends – and it’s budget-friendly too!
The idea for this casserole came to me as I was traveling to Vermont a few weeks ago to visit my mother and daughter. Mom is 95+ years old now, and holding her own with the help of our daughter, who lives with her to allow her to stay in her own home. I was hoping to make an early Thanksgiving dinner so we could celebrate together while I was there, so I bought a bag of our favorite Pepperidge Farm Herb Dressing, some sweet onions, carrots and celery. My daughter had asked me to use some chicken thighs that were in the freezer, so I didn’t need to buy a turkey.
Mom has this vintage Bennington pottery clay cooker, so I put the partially thawed chicken thighs into the pot, and piled chopped onions, celery and carrots on top. I stirred in some thyme, rosemary, and sage. After about 2 hours in a 350 degree oven, the chicken was falling apart and there were lots of juices. Actually, with the onions/celery/carrots in the pot, those juices had already become chicken stock! I opened the bag of stuffing mix and poured in just enough to soak up all the liquid, then returned the pot to the oven for about 20 minutes.
On a cold evening in Vermont, there is nothing better than to have the house smell like Thanksgiving! We feasted on that hot casserole, and marveled that it could taste just like a turkey dinner without all the work. I put some into a freezer container so my mom and daughter could have it again after I had travelled back to California.
As soon as I got back to the ranch, I needed to fix a good meal for The Farmer, so I bought all the ingredients for my new favorite casserole. I realized that I could serve 8-10 people for about $15 or less! Now that’s a pretty budget-friendly “tastes-like-Thanksgiving” meal! I wondered what The Farmer would think of my creation.
His comment? “This is tasty! Make this one again!” (I just love it when he says that!)
As I was making my Cheaters’ Thanksgiving Casserole once more to write this post, I received a text from Annette, the wonderful nurse who comes to take care of my mom so that our daughter can get out of the house. She wanted to know how to make the casserole too! So while I was making my new batch here in California, she was cooking hers in Vermont. She used a slow cooker, and it came out just great!
Here are the steps to make your house smell like Thanksgiving with just one pot:
Serve with a salad and some cranberry sauce, or just fill up a bowl and heat in the microwave. Perfect for a last minute family supper, or an afternoon of football! (Need cranberry sauce? Put 1 cup water with 1/2 honey in a saucepan, bring to a boil, add fresh cranberries and cook until the berries pop. Chill and serve!)
Just put the chicken into the pot and top with all the rest of the ingredients – then relax while the amazing aroma of Thanksgiving dinner fills your kitchen! No need to add any salt because the stuffing has plenty of seasoning already. It’s not even necessary to call this Cheaters’ Thanksgiving Casserole – all the ingredients are fresh! What’s cheating about that?
Cheaters' Thanksgiving Casserole
- 10-12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 sweet onion peeled and chopped
- 4-5 stalks of celery chopped
- 4-5 carrots chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 3 teaspoons dried sage
- 1 package stuffing mix I used Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing
- Use a slow cooker or clay cooker or covered baking dish that will hold at least 5.5 quarts.
- Place the skinless, boneless chicken thighs into the pot, and layer the onion, celery, carrot and seasonings on top.
- Cover and cook at 350 degrees (oven) or on high (slow cooker) for 1.5 -2 hours until the chicken is falling apart.
- Using a spatula, break up the chicken pieces until shredded.
- Sprinkle stuffing mix into the cooked chicken, pressing down with a spatula, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. (You may not need the whole bag of stuffing mix to do this.)
- Bake for another 15-20 minutes.
- Serve with a salad or vegetable, and fresh cranberry sauce.