It arrives in two heavy, nondescript brown boxes: Everything I need to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal from scratch. Neatly packed inside is a cadre of ingredients that would have likely required at least two trips to Tom Thumb: four lbs. of potatoes, a loaf of organic white bread, nearly two lbs. of butter — and a 14-lb. free range turkey from Goffle Road Poultry Farm in New Jersey.
Like many childless 30-something Americans, I've never cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner. A side or two? Sure. Fresh cranberry sauce? Totally. Three bottles of wine in lieu of subjecting unwitting participants to my cooking? Absolutely. But I've never roasted a turkey or baked a pie from scratch. I've never reached inside a turkey's orifices, stuffing them to the brim with bread and seasonings. I have, however, witnessed the fresh hell that is the grocery store in the days leading up to Thanksgiving — bare shelves, long lines, the panic that sets in when you realize they don't have that one thing you absolutely need, which means you'll have to fight traffic to start the entire process over at another store.
This year, the meal kit company Marley Spoon — in a partnership with Martha Stewart – has created a kit to help you bypass the grocery store melee entirely.
For $179, Martha and Marley Spoon's Thanksgiving Box comes with all the makings of mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts with pomegranate, Martha's Classic Stuffing with dried cherries, brown butter apple pie and, of course, Martha's "perfect roast turkey." The turkey comes frozen rock-solid in its own box with instructions to let it thaw in the fridge for 48 hours. You have until Nov. 16 to order the meal kit – and then kick back and relax, because you'll be the only one on your block not popping Xanax in a Tom Thumb parking lot.
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When it came time to cook up this feast, I ignored Martha's suggestion to prep the turkey and make stuffing and mashed potatoes the night before the big cook – this proved to be a mistake, as I spent nine hours solid in the kitchen and was forced to bake the pie the next day. As with any meal kit, every dish came with its own instruction sheet breaking down the process into easy-to-follow steps. And thank God for that — growing up, most of our Thanksgiving dinner came from boxes and cans and did not prepare me for the experience of cooking an entire Thanksgiving meal from scratch. But Martha is not about shortcuts, which is part of what makes this meal kit so damn fun.
The side dishes — mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts and stuffing — proved easy enough to make and forced me to try some recipes I otherwise would have overlooked. Fresh stuffing was made perky with dried cherries, Brussels sprouts were specked with pomegranate seeds and the mashed potatoes were made with whole milk, an entire stick of butter and a full package of cream cheese. All of the sides were great — the only thing missing was a fresh cranberry sauce, but the kit is meant to be supplemented with whatever your guests opt to bring to the table.
So how did the turkey come out? As a first-timer, I was nervous — but it was great. Moist, flavorful and a far cry from the dry, flavorless turkey I'm used to stomaching every year. As a first-time pie-maker, I was nervous, but the instructions were helpful and the pie turned out tart, rich and delicious.
So is Martha's Thanksgiving Box worth it? Yes. Not only are the ingredients high-quality and the recipes detailed, it's a well-balanced meal and a lot of fun to cook. And you can't put a price on skipping grocery store lines.