In the United States, unity has always seemed precarious, a myth as tempting as the oft-repeated fable of the first Thanksgiving. But there’s nothing false about giving thanks. In a year marked by a pandemic and innumerable losses, food is a salve we can count on. Rooted in indigenous ingredients and comforting classics, a Thanksgiving meal is a reminder to be grateful for our intertwined histories as we imagine a more equitable future.
This time around, large gatherings, with family members flying in from across the country or driving from several states away, will be replaced by smaller affairs. Some people may celebrate solo, others with family or roommates they’ve shared quarters with for months. Perhaps there will be an outdoor cocktail hour with neighbors, if the weather permits, or dessert around a fire pit. There will be lots of phone calls, FaceTime and Zoom rooms. It may be another opportunity for meaningful conversations, uncomfortable or not. We may feel our losses more acutely, but we can be thankful for our memories of holidays past and the relationships we have with family, blood or chosen.
When we realized all the ways the pandemic would affect our holiday celebrations, our colleague Olga Massov suggested we offer readers a slate of Thanksgiving recipes made on sheet pans. Since we’re already cooking so often, a sheet-pan dinner can streamline the traditional, laborious, multicourse meal without sacrificing any of its comforting flavors.
Though all of these dinners are designed to be a whole meal for at least four guests, they’re easily augmented. Serve them with your favorite cranberry sauce, fluffy rolls or crunchy green salad. Make an extra side (or three) of cornbread pudding, roasted butternut squash or over-the-top macaroni and cheese. Have a bowl of rich pan juices or velvety gravy ready, and whatever you do, don’t forget the pie.
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Sheet Pan Harissa Turkey Legs With Sumac Sweet Potatoes
1 hour 5 minutes, plus a few hours after salting the meat
My trusty sheet pans have seen a lot of action at Thanksgiving over the years. I’ve used them to roast vegetables, make stuffing, toast nuts and more. Rarely have they pulled duty for the main course – in fact, the only time I can remember doing that is the year I ended up with a massive heritage turkey and only a flimsy disposable roasting pan to put it in. I placed a baking sheet underneath so that I could more confidently heave the 20-pound bird in and out of the oven.
This year, though, there will be no massive bird, no big family gathering. It will be a more subdued holiday for a lot of us when, let’s be honest, we may be just too drained to want to cook – or clean – all day.
My goal was to bring some of the spirit, and the flavors, of Thanksgiving to the table in a smaller, easier and even more affordable package. Having played around with turkey drumsticks last year as a way to generate drippings for a make-ahead gravy, I settled on a sheet pan supper that would make a delicious, eye-catching centerpiece on the holiday table.
This one-pan meal takes advantage of those inexpensive turkey drumsticks (mine were $2.79 a pound, and you’ll need about 3 pounds), complementing the rich dark meat with a spicy, sweet and vibrant red glaze made with harissa, a hot chile paste from North Africa, and brown sugar. I preferred the Cava brand here, as its thicker texture clings to the meat nicely. The Mina brand worked but didn’t form as thick or flavorful of a glaze.
Along with the turkey is a stuffing-roasted veg mash-up featuring large, hand-torn croutons and cubes of sweet potato. The torn bread develops a mix of crispy and soft textures as the fat renders onto it before a quick run under the broiler, which also adds an enticing kiss of char to the potatoes. A dusting of sumac, a tart, deep-red spice common in Middle Eastern cuisine, adds one last punch of flavor.
You should feel free to use this template to mix up the flavors of the spices and the glaze. Cayenne and cinnamon can replace the sumac, for example. Gochujang, a richly spiced Korean chile paste, could sub in for the harissa, or you can even use your favorite barbecue sauce instead of the brown sugar-harissa mix.
The number of drumsticks makes for a tidy four servings, but it is a generous amount of food. Thankfully, leftover meat is great in a turkey salad. Combine three parts mayonnaise to one part harissa (or a ratio you prefer), add shredded turkey and season to taste with salt, lemon juice and any other additions (herbs, cranberry sauce, etc.) you like.
Just goes to show you that manageable can still be marvelous. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Recipe notes: The turkey legs need to be salted and refrigerated for at least a few hours in advance or up to overnight.
Ground sumac is available at Middle Eastern markets and spice shops, as well as some Whole Foods Markets.
4 turkey drumsticks (3 to 3 1/2 pounds total), patted dry
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons harissa, plus more for serving
2 medium sweet potatoes (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds total), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces crusty bread, torn into irregular chunks 1 1/2 to 2 inches large
1 teaspoon ground sumac
Season the turkey legs on all sides generously with salt and place them on a platter or large, rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least a few hours or up to overnight.
Position a rack in the middle and another in the upper third of the oven. Place a large, rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack and preheat to 450 degrees.
In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and harissa. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the mixture to save for the final glazing.
In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil and a generous pinch of salt. Carefully remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and arrange the potatoes in a border around the edge of the pan. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Add the torn bread pieces to the bowl, tossing with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and a generous pinch of salt.
Meanwhile, remove the turkey legs from the refrigerator and pat dry. Rub the remaining brown sugar mixture all over the legs.
Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and fill the open area with the bread pieces. Arrange the turkey legs on top of the bread with the more attractive side facing down (you will flip them later for final presentation), alternating the direction in which the bone ends face to ensure they fit. Avoid having the legs touch each other. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes.
Flip the legs over, ideally using tongs, but take care not to tear the skin or meat. Bake for an additional 15 minutes (middle rack), or until the turkey is almost done. The temperature on an instant-read thermometer should be about 160 degrees. Remove the baking sheet and preheat the broiler.
Apply the reserved brown sugar mixture to the top sides of the turkey legs. Return the baking sheet to the oven on the rack in the upper third and broil until the glaze is bubbling and slightly darkened, 2 to 4 minutes. The potatoes and bread pieces should have spots of char as well. The temperature of the meat should be at least 165 degrees (a little higher is fine, as dark meat is forgiving).
Sprinkle the sumac over the sweet potatoes (some on the bread and turkey is fine, too). Serve with additional harissa, if desired.
Nutrition | Calories: 715; Total Fat: 22 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 190 mg; Sodium: 680 mg; Carbohydrates: 76 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Sugar: 20 g; Protein: 53 g.
From Washington Post staff writer Becky Krystal.
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Sheet Pan Duck With Orange-Sriracha Glaze, Grapes and Hand-Torn Croutons
Active time: 45 minutes | Total time: 2 hours 10 minutes (plus 24 hours’ chilling time)
2 to 4 servings
Roasting a duck might be easier than roasting a chicken; with a generous layer of fat, the meat stays moist and flavorful. And cooked alongside grapes that grow sweeter with roasting, onions that caramelize in the glorious duck fat, and day-old bread that offers crispy and tender bits, it makes for a festive meal that requires little hands-on effort.
Be sure to hand-tear the bread into irregular pieces; the nooks and crannies will better catch and absorb all the flavorful duck drippings than a clean cut would. Depending on how much fat the duck has, you can wind up with up to 3/4 cup of rendered duck fat. Save it for roasting vegetables, frying eggs or trying your hand at duck confit.
Leftover duck and stuffing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
FOR THE DUCK
One (5-pound) whole Pekin duck
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
12 ounces baby potatoes, halved if large
5 to 6 cups day-old bread (about 8 ounces) from a rustic loaf (not sourdough), hand-torn into 1-inch chunks
One (8-ounce) sweet onion, such as Vidalia, peeled, halved and sliced about 1/3-inch thick
8 ounces red grapes
1/2 cup dry white wine, or more as needed
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock, or more as needed
1 pint fresh figs (approximately 8 ounces), halved
FOR THE GLAZE
1/3 cup orange marmalade, such as Bonne Maman
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder (see NOTE)
Prepare the duck: The day before you plan to roast the duck, pat it dry with paper towels. Using a sharp paring knife, cut away fatty deposits and excess skin around the neck area and just inside the bird’s cavity. Using the sharp point of the knife, prick the duck skin all over except for the drumsticks. Score the skin of the breast in a crosshatch pattern, being careful not to expose the flesh, then generously season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours and up to 3 days; this will help season the bird, dry out the skin and help to render crispy skin once cooked.
Make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the marmalade, soy sauce, ginger, Sriracha and five-spice powder. Bring the glaze to a bare simmer, then remove from the heat.
Roast the duck: When ready to cook, place the duck breast side down on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Let it come to room temperature while you preheat the oven.
Position a baking rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
Add the water to the baking sheet and transfer it to the oven; the water will help the fat render without splattering. Roast undisturbed for about 35 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a heatproof surface, and gently and carefully tilt the duck over a medium bowl to drain the juices that have accumulated inside the cavity. Place the duck on a cutting board, then drain the rendered fat into a heatproof jar.
Add the potatoes to the baking sheet and shake the pan around to coat the potatoes in the residual fat. Place the bread, onion and grapes in a large bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons reserved duck fat and toss to coat. Return the duck to the baking sheet, breast side up, and generously brush the duck with the glaze. Transfer the bread mixture to the baking sheet and scatter it around the duck, placing some bread pieces under the duck. Pour the wine over everything but the duck, lightly season with salt and pepper and return the baking sheet to the oven.
Roast for 10 minutes, then transfer the baking sheet to a heatproof surface. Generously glaze the duck, then pour the stock over everything but the bird. Return to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes. Generously glaze the duck once more and roast for another 10 minutes.
Transfer the baking sheet to a heatproof surface and insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast; it should register 155 degrees. Carefully tilt the duck over a medium bowl to drain any accumulated juices inside the cavity, then transfer to a cutting board and let it rest while you finish cooking everything else on the pan. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
Add the figs to the baking sheet and return it to the oven. Roast for another 10 minutes – at this point the potatoes should be cooked through, the grapes have burst in places and softened, and onions caramelized. Turn the oven off and return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes, so the figs continue to soften.
Spoon the bread mixture onto plates, carve the duck and serve warm, with extra glaze, if you like.
NOTE: To make your own five-spice powder, in a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast 2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns and 3 whole star anise, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and process until very finely ground. Spoon the mixture into a small fine-mesh sieve with larger holes, sift the ingredients through, discarding any remaining unground bits. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (preferably Chinese) and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves until combined. Transfer to a small glass jar. It is ready to use, and can store in a dark, cool place for up to 6 months.
Nutrition (based on 4 servings) | Per serving: 805 calories, 33 g protein, 80 g carbohydrates, 37 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 109 mg cholesterol, 633 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 30 g sugar
Recipe from Olga Massov.
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Sheet Pan Persian-Style Stuffed Delicata Squash With Broccolini and Carrots
Active time: 25 minutes | Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Turkey is usually an afterthought – if that – in my Thanksgiving planning. I’m a vegetarian married to a poultry lover, and we typically host a table of guests with similarly different dietary habits. For the past few years, because I wanted to satisfy the carnivores’ expectations while saving myself the hassle of dealing with the bird, I’ve outsourced it, ordering a smoked turkey from a D.C. barbecue joint and asking somebody else to pick it up.
Then, I was free to spend my energy where I wanted it: on a bounty of vegetable dishes, dressing and multiple pies.
This year, with just my husband and me at the table, I’m after something even easier – and more veg-focused. So I came up with a sheet-pan dinner that features one of my favorite winter squash varieties, delicata, stuffed with a Persian-inspired combination of rice, dried fruit and nuts, perfumed with saffron. Cinnamon-dusted carrots roast alongside the squash, adding even more fall aromas to the kitchen, and broccolini goes on for the last few minutes so that it stays green and crisp.
If my husband wants turkey again this year, I plan to just text him instructions for making a breast in the Instant Pot.
Even though this recipe is designed for Thanksgiving, it would truly be suitable for any fall or winter night. The key to the stuffing is using already cooked rice, which you can buy in shelf-stable packages or frozen. (If using frozen, thaw and thoroughly drain it first.)
And because every Thanksgiving meal is really about the leftovers, here’s my favorite thing to do with these: Turn any leftover squash and stuffing into a soup. Just scrape out the stuffing, combine the squash (don’t even bother peeling it) and water or vegetable stock in a blender, and blend until smooth, adding more liquid to achieve your preferred consistency. Heat in a saucepan over medium heat, and season to taste. Warm the stuffing briefly in the microwave and spoon it into the soup when you serve.
2 delicata squash (2 1/4 pounds total), halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
1 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked jasmine or basmati rice (see headnote; may substitute brown rice or another cooked grain of your choice)
1 cup cooked or no-salt-added canned lentils, drained and rinsed
1 cup (4 ounces) roasted unsalted pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup (3 ounces) dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup (3 ounces) dried cherries (preferably tart)
1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads steeped in 1 tablespoon hot water
8 ounces skinny carrots (4 to 5), scrubbed, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 ounces (2 small bunches) broccolini, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
Scoop out and discard (or reserve for roasting) the seeds from the squash. Rub the squash all over with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season the cut sides with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and a few grinds of pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the rice, lentils, pistachios, orange juice, apricots, cherries, parsley, garlic, saffron water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of pepper, and stir to combine.
Arrange the squash on a large, rimmed baking sheet, leaving as much space between the halves as possible. Spoon the rice mixture into the squash cavities, mounding it as needed. Arrange the carrots among the squash, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with the cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Cover the baking sheet tightly with foil. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the squash is just tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the foil and push the squash and carrots together in the center of the pan. In a large bowl, toss the broccolini with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Scatter it around the pan.
Continue to roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender, the stuffing has lightly browned and the broccolini stem pieces are crisp-tender. Transfer to a serving platter, if desired, and drizzle with more olive oil on top. Garnish with the parsley and pomegranate seeds, if using, and serve warm.
Nutrition | Calories: 372; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 558 mg; Carbohydrates: 52 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Sugar: 15 g; Protein: 7 g.
Loosely based on a recipe in “Lucid Food” by Louisa Shafia (Ten Speed Press, 2009). Tested by Joe Yonan.
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Sheet Pan Turkey Breast Roulade With Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans and Shallots
Active time: 30 minutes | Total time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
This one-pan feast of turkey with all the fixings puts a holiday dinner on the table without a lot of fuss or a sink full of dishes. It is ideal for feeding a smaller group for the holidays, or any day of the year when you want to tap into that Thanksgiving spirit.
Its centerpiece is a turkey breast stuffed with a cranberry sauce gussied up with pecans, maple syrup, thyme and orange zest. To stuff the breast, ask your butcher to do the work of deboning, butterflying and pounding the poultry. Then, you just layer in the cranberry mixture on and roll it up.
This recipe calls for half a turkey breast. If your butcher sells them whole, the leftover one can be frozen for another day.
The stuffed breast slices up with a swirl of cranberry throughout. It is cooked alongside maple-seasoned sweet potatoes sprinkled with pecans, as well as green beans and roasted shallots. The meal even includes a “gravy” made from the pan juices deglazed with a little boiling water.
NOTES: If using dried cranberries, soak them in warm water for 15 minutes before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
Ask your butcher to debone, butterfly and pound the breast. While this recipe calls for half a turkey breast, most butchers sell only whole, so get the butcher to prep both halves and freeze the leftover half.
The meal serves four, but there is enough turkey here for six people, so enjoy that the next day, in true Thanksgiving style. Leftover turkey and vegetables can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 3 days.
1/2 cup (2 ounces) pecan halves or pieces, divided
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) fresh cranberries, halved (may substitute 2 ounces dried cranberries, see NOTES)
3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 1/2 pounds boneless skin-on turkey breast, butterflied and pounded to about 3/4-inch thickness (see NOTES)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
3 medium shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup boiling water
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup (1 ounce) of the pecans and transfer them to a small bowl. Add the cranberries, 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, the thyme, orange zest and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and toss to combine.
Sprinkle the turkey breast all over with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Spread the cranberry mixture the turkey, leaving a border of about 2 inches on all sides. Roll it up and secure tightly with kitchen twine, then brush the top with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil. Place on one side of a sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes, or until the skin turns golden brown.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes on the sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the remaining 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Return the pan to the oven for 25 minutes.
Move the potatoes aside, then add the green beans and shallots to the pan. Drizzle them with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Return to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board to rest, then sprinkle the potatoes with the remaining 1/4 cup (1 ounce) pecans and return the pan to the oven to allow the vegetables to cook 5 to 10 minutes more, or until softened and lightly browned.
Transfer the vegetables to serving plates. Add the boiling water to the pan and stir to dissolve some of the pan juices (but avoid actively stirring any bits that have charred). Slice the turkey into 1/2-inch thick slices and serve alongside the vegetables drizzled with the pan juices.
Nutrition | Calories: 559; Total Fat: 21 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 132 mg; Sodium: 366 mg; Carbohydrates: 45 g; Dietary Fiber: 8 g; Sugar: 15 g; Protein: 50 g.
Adapted from “Whole in One” by nutritionist Ellie Krieger (Hachette Books, 2019).
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Sheet Pan Chicken With Hasselback Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
Active time: 1 hour | Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
This budget-friendly, festive sheet pan dinner lets you keep that whole bird for a centerpiece, without making a big turkey. Start by cooking the potatoes, then add the chicken and finally the Brussels sprouts. Use a sturdy aluminum or stainless steel 13-by-18-inch sheet pan to allow for food to be evenly distributed, so it roasts and doesn’t steam. Any dry seasoning blend you prefer can be substituted for the one in the recipe.
MAKE AHEAD: If you prefer a crispier-skinned bird, or just want to work ahead, season the chicken as described below for 2 hours or up to 24 hours before roasting and let it rest, uncovered, in the refrigerator. Remove it from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting.
Each component can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 3 days.
FOR THE POTATOES
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes (2 pounds total; about 8 ounces each), scrubbed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
2 tablespoons panko (optional)
FOR THE CHICKEN
1 (4 1/2-pound) chicken, giblets removed if included
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon rubbed sage, or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving (optional)
FOR THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS
1 pound Brussels sprouts, defrosted if frozen
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Position a baking rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a large, rimmed baking sheet oil.
Make the potatoes: Place a potato lengthwise between two identical round handles of wooden spoons. Using a sharp knife, make slices every 1/8 inch across the length of the potato, using the handles as a guide to stop the blade from cutting all the way through. Leave about a 1/2-inch of uncut potato at each end. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.
Place the potatoes, one at a time, in the microwave and cook on HIGH for 2 minutes. The potatoes will not be soft, but the slices will be easier to manage.
While the potatoes are cooling, in a medium bowl, combine the softened butter, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper until well blended. Transfer about 4 teaspoons of the compound butter to a small bowl, then cover and set aside. In a separate small bowl, combine the Parmesan and panko, if using, then cover and set aside.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, working with one potato at a time, spread the butter mixture between the slices. The slices will be stiff, so take your time, using your hands to tuck a little butter into each slice and a butter knife, if necessary, to push the butter down between the slices. Rub butter on the outside of the potatoes, as well.
Place the potatoes on one end of the sheet pan, fitting them snugly together, and loosely tent with aluminum foil, tucking it under the potatoes. Transfer to the oven and roast for about 45 minutes.
Make the chicken: While the potatoes are roasting, pat the chicken dry with paper towel. In a small bowl, combine the thyme, sage, salt and pepper.
Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the chicken, rub to coat, and gently rub some under the skin, making sure not to break the skin. Generously season the chicken with the seasoning blend, rubbing some under the skin and inside the cavity of the bird.
Cut the lemon into 2 pieces and insert them into the bird, gently squeezing to release their juice. For a prettier presentation, tie or truss the legs together with kitchen twine, if you have some. Lightly cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and set aside until ready to roast.
After the potatoes have cooked for 45 minutes, remove the foil and uncover the chicken and add it to the center of the sheet pan, leaving the remaining third of the pan empty.
Return the pan to the oven and roast the chicken and potatoes for about 15 minutes.
Make the Brussels sprouts: While the chicken and potatoes are roasting, trim any tough outer leaves or stems from the Brussels sprouts and slice any large ones into halves or quarters, so all of the pieces are roughly the same size. (The smaller the pieces, the more caramelized they will become.) Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a medium bowl and add the olive oil, sugar, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Using your hands or a large spoon, toss to coat evenly. Cover and leave on the counter.
After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the oven. Using tongs, gently squeeze the base of each potato to open and fan the slices. Sprinkle the potatoes with the Parmesan cheese and panko mixture, if using, working it down into the slices.
Spread the Brussels sprouts on the sheet pan, sliced side down, if halved, filling the empty third of the pan and placing them wherever they will fit around the chicken and potatoes.
Return the sheet pan to the oven for an additional 45 minutes, or until the chicken is done, the potatoes are tender and the Brussels sprouts start to darken and caramelize.
To check if the chicken is done, insert an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken’s leg or breast, not touching the bone. It must register at least 155 degrees. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes and test the temperature again, before carving. It should read 165 degrees.
When ready to serve, run a fork along the top of the potatoes to further fan out the slices. Place a dollop of the remaining seasoned butter over each potato.
Sprinkle fresh parsley over the chicken, if using.
To make gravy: After transferring the food to serving platters and while the pan is still warm, free up all of the bits stuck to the pan. (If the pan is a bit dry, add a few tablespoons of hot water or stock and use a spatula to scrape them off the pan.) Then, using a rubber spatula, scrape the bits and as much of the drippings as you can into a bowl. (For a 4 1/2-pound chicken, you should end up with about 1/2 cup of jus, depending on how juicy your bird is.)
In a small pan, make a roux by melting 1 tablespoon of butter and then adding 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it turns deep brown, about 3 minutes. Add the drippings and, if need be, a few tablespoons of hot water or chicken stock. Simmer for about 1 minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. If the gravy is too thick, add more stock or water, 1 tablespoon at a time. (Makes about 1/2 to 3/4 cup gravy.)
It will take a 4 1/2-pound chicken from 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes to cook if roasted at 400 degrees. If the chicken is smaller or larger, reduce or add about 10 minutes per pound, 5 minutes per half pound.
If potatoes are larger than about 8 ounces each, they will need to cook longer. This will vary, depending on the size. If, after cooking as directed, they are not tender, leave them in the oven until tender when pierced with a fork, checking them every 10 minutes.