So you're preparing for Thanksgiving and you’re already irritable just thinking about the cooking tasks that lie ahead of you. You wish that it was your sister-in-law who was the one cooking, as usual, but she is bailing this year and going to Paris (where they have lousy pumpkin pie, by the way).
So there you are with the piles of sweet potatoes and cranberries, getting crabbier by the minute. Then you find out that two of your guests are non-dairy and two are gluten-free.
Before you have a nervous breakdown, try this dessert. It’s so easy you can make it plus a pie (for those who are gluten-gobblers and live for butterfat) and still not lose your mind.
Also, you will like it–it’s delicious, especially with a little whipped cream which your dairy-phones won’t like, but, hey, let ‘em eat cake.
Forget about Thanksgiving dinner. I can’t wait until the day after Thanksgiving for leftovers. When else during the year can you look forward to turkey soup, turkey chopped liver, smoked turkey sandwiches, and above all turkey hash in a single day? All this month, on www.barbecuebible.com, we’ve been telling you how to cook turkey on the grill. Make sure you manage to squirrel away a pound or so of the cooked turkey meat for hash.
Our word hash comes from the French verb hacher, "to chop." (Yeah, it’s the same etymological root as that chopping device favored by George Washington, the hatchet.) Hash originated as a way to use up leftovers, but it now turns up not just at hash houses (a nickname for diners) but at high-falutin’ restaurants from coast to coast.
The most common version of hash contains corned beef and potatoes, but you can make hash with an almost endless variety of ingredients. Rural New Englanders combined corned beef, potatoes, and beets to make red flannel hash. In seafaring communities it was common to find salt cod and fish hash. Hachis parmentier, garlicky chopped lamb and potatoes, is classic comfort food in France.
Even more than Thanksgiving, the day after is nostalgia squared, or maybe cubed. Memories rush back from the day before. The turkey. The perfect pies. Seeing loved ones, yet missing absent ones, and being thankful to have both. But now, layered on top, is a day of leftovers that are often better the day before.
My morning after: stuffing in a circle in a skillet with sunny side ups in the center, a piece of pie before that gets under way, freshly made strawberry raspberry jam and angel biscuits.
This year I’m making homemade butter—crunchy maple butter— to serve with them, and I’m sharing the recipe with you ahead of time so you see how quick and easy it is to make. And the flavor is definitely butter squared. Or maybe cubed.
All you need is to pour 3 pints of organic heavy cream in a stand mixer and begin to whip as if you are making whipped cream.
A man in one of my cooking classes asked me, ” How do you make butter?!”
I answered, “Do you remember anyone warning you that if you whipped cream too much it would turn into butter?”
For Thanksgiving we have a menu we love. Roast turkey, corn bread stuffing with Italian sausage, shiitake mushrooms and Turkish apricots, baked sweet potatoes with butter, cranberry sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts and sautéed string beans with garlic-toasted almonds. Since I started doing travel writing, I like to include one dish I've learned to make on a trip.
On a recent month long trip in Switzerland, I enjoyed dozens of meals. Since I was researching local Swiss wines, those meals were wine-paired. Needless to say, I had a very good time. At one of the first stops on the trip, our group of six journalists was treated to a dinner at the chef's table at restaurant Le Mont Blanc at Le Crans in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. One of our group was a vegetarian. We always envied her meals, especially that night when she was served risotto with hazelnuts.
That dish made an impression. So, last night I made risotto and hazelnuts. The combination of creamy rice and crunchy nuts is hard to beat. I'm thinking it would be a great Thanksgiving side dish.
Thanksgiving is almost here and it's time to nail down those menus. Serving homemade bread is one of the best parts of the holiday meal.
We have so many choices when it comes down to what kind of bread or roll to serve. For me, it comes down to how many people I have to serve and what flavor am I looking to add to the meal.
Since Thanksgiving has so many savory dishes, I am always looking to add a little more sweetness to the meal. I love when dried fruit is added to stuffing. It helps give diversity to the meal. Since I often add the dried fruit to the stuffing, I thought maybe I would try adding it to the dinner rolls instead. It's always fun to change things up a bit.
I did not want the rolls overly sweet, so I added a little bit of cinnamon and only a half cup of dried cranberries to my regular dinner rolls recipe. It. Was. Perfect. The slight hint of cinnamon and a bite of dried cranberry smothered in butter was the perfect way to round out the meal.
This year, in our house, we're cooking our version of Suzanne Goin's succotash. Of course, Suzanne Goin doesn't call it succotash; in her book Sunday Suppers at Luques, she calls it sweet corn, green cabbage and bacon. We call it succotash because we throw in some lima beans and way more butter:
Cut 6 thick slices of bacon into small pieces and cook in a casserole until crispy. Remove and drain. Melt 1 stick of butter in the remaining bacon grease and add 1 sliced onion and some salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes, then add half a small green cabbage, sliced, and cook until wilted. Add 2 packages of cooked frozen lima beans and 2 packages of frozen corn. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring, till the corn is done. You can do this in advance. Reheat gently and add the bacon bits. (Of course you might be able to get fresh corn, in which case feel free to overreach.)
- Recipe courtesy of Nora Ephron
Choosing a wine for the Thanksgiving table does not have to be as difficult as many make it seem. With the variety of competing flavors of Thanksgiving, it may seem difficult to find the perfect pairing. Finding a wine that goes with everything is key. And there are plenty of wines available in the market that accomplish the task. But you definitely don't want an overpowering wine or a lightweight wine that doesn't stand up to the many different dishes. Look for a fruity medium-bodied wine with good tartness or crispness. It has to cut through the rich autumnal flavors as well as complement the roast turkey. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are among the best wines for Thanksgiving, but a few other, more unique choices are available too. The following wines are all fruit-forward, food-friendly, and suitable for a whole range of tastes. Surprise your guests with one or more of these picks.
Beaujolais Nouveau is one of the most popular wines this time of year. Every third Thursday in November France releases it into the world with much lauded fanfare and drop ships it to locations worldwide. After the grapes are harvested, the juice is only fermented for a few weeks before becoming wine. The wine from négociant Georges Duboeuf is the easiest to find in wine stores across the country, but many other brands can also be procured. Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape in the Burgundy subregion of the same name. The resulting wine is very fruity with a light to medium body with nice tartness but low tannins. It's the perfect red wine to go with poultry, especially turkey or chicken. This wine is possibly one of the only reds that can benefit from slight chilling, but try it at different temperatures to see which is more appealing. Drink it while it's young, the wine is not meant for aging.
Every family has their traditions. The things that make the holidays particularly memorable to them. When it comes to Thanksgiving those traditions almost always revolve around food. What graces the table is just as important as who sits around it. While some people may choose to experiment from year to year some things just aren't allowed to change. Usually it's a side dish. Sometime it's not very healthy or even classy, but it must be made.
In the case of my family it's Jell-O Salad. It has graced our holiday table for as long as I can remember. I have tried to trace the origin as it is distinctly American and probably a recipe that came from the company itself. It certainly is not something my very Polish grandmother would have created on her own. She was an expert baker and this is just too pedestrian for her talents. The closest version I came to finding online had it published in 2000. That's about 30 years too late. That version also included walnuts, which just sounds gross. They would totally mess up the the smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture of the dish.
I can only imagine she started making it to placate the unrefined palates of her four young grandchildren. I mean, who would ever pass up Strawberry Jell-O with bananas. It seemed more like a dessert than a side dish and added a little sweetness and color to our plates. Even when we were older we had her continue to make it, because it just wasn't the holidays without it.
You certainly don’t need me to tell you that the Big Food Holiday is next week. Everywhere you turn you see tips, tricks and ideas for Thanksgiving so you’ll understand me when I say that I’m going to join the chorus!
What are your plans? I’m giddy just thinking about our week: my parents fly in Monday, my sister joins us Tuesday, and we’ll all be celebrating a giant Thanksgiving meal here at our home. Adam will do the bird, I’ll be in charge of music, decor and the hosting duties, while we’ll be joined with our friends, neighbors and extended family.
We will toast a guest’s birthday, share what we’re thankful for, and wish my parents a 50th wedding anniversary all at the same time! While the exact anniversary isn’t until the end of December, I’d be a fool to not take the time to wish my loving folks the best of celebrations a bit early. When you make it to 50 Years you almost deserve to have those around you toast you many times over!
Stuffing is never my department. My mom has always made the stuffing (another one of my dad’s favorites) and she ALWAYS stuffs it in the bird.
I must admit, I have never made stuffing before making this recipe. I made it last year as a test, prior to Thanksgiving, and it was so good that Eli ate half the pan.
Regardless if it is Thanksgiving or 90* outside, if I ask Eli what he wants for dinner, his answer always has stuffing in the sentence.
Last year marked a new tradition; our holiday menu isn’t complete without this dish.
I have always been a big proponent of deep-frying a turkey. It has been, until now, the juiciest turkey I have ever made. However, the biggest turn-off of the whole deep-frying process is the $50 of oil you need to buy and then have to dispose of...it's kind-of-a-pain and always feels like a big waste.
However, there is nothing better than not tying up the oven on Thanksgiving Day with a turkey that needs four hours to cook. Therefore, deep-frying the turkey continued for a few years until I just couldn't get myself to buy those large vats of oil anymore. So the turkey made it's way back to my indoor oven and last year I did make one of the most delicious turkey's ever.
But, over the past year I kept seeing this Char-Broil The Big Easy Electric TRU Infrared Smoker and Roaster everywhere I went. Mostly at large warehouse stores like Lowe's. Seeing it so many times wore me down and I finally decided to buy one. It was a sign, right? I wanted to get the turkey cooking back outside where it belongs. This way the oven is reserved for all the beloved side dishes. Good idea? Yes. I thought so too.
This past weekend I finally fired it up to give it a test run. It requires a 30-minute seasoning cycle before using, which was not a big deal to complete.
I wanted to make a "no-frills" recipe. No exotic rubs and/or seasonings. No brining (which I always do). And no expensive free-range, local, special-fed, gobbles in seven languages turkey. I wanted to see what this machine could do on its own with a simple, frozen Butterball, rubbed in peanut oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. That's it. The results were kind of astonishing.
There are ten of us for dinner this year, ranging in age from 2 ½ to 91. My granddaughter, who is clearly her mother’s daughter in terms of her young culinary interests, feasts solely on (in this order) pumpkin pie and cranberries. At least two other guests besides the two pescatarians opt for salmon. Five traditionalists dine on turkey and sweet potatoes. Everyone except the two-year-old has several helpings of green bean casserole, that holdover from the fifties that is about as healthy as—but even more delicious than—Twinkies. I have a large and lovely glass of the wine selected by my daughter-in-law and contemplate the table.
The plates are Fiesta, in shades—in homage to the season—of yellow, orange, and green, to mirror the last leaves on the maple tree outside the window. I have been careful, however, to make sure that my mother’s setting is pink. My granddaughter has a plate that features Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her that it used to be her Uncle Ted’s favorite plate. The water glasses—an anniversary gift—are from Spain; the wine glasses are from a set my husband and I bought for a housewarming party for our first home.
Me: I should post the turkey sandwich with the cranberry sauce. Everyone will have leftover cranberry sauce to use up.
Me: Nope. Too much like Thanksgiving. I'll go with the Southwest sandwich.
Me: But cranberry sauce won't be around much longer; habanero Gouda cheese is around all year.
Me: No, no. Too much like Thanksgiving.
Me: I'm just gonna post both; that way, people can decide for themselves.
Jeff: Who are you talking to?
This Turkey, Cranberry, and Gruyere Sandwich with Sage Mustard is all about opposites attracting: toasty, fragrant rye bread and moist, savory turkey; tart cranberry sauce and mild Gruyere cheese; earthy sage and tangy mustard. Somehow, they all come together in perfect harmony.
Has anyone noticed that there's no debate this year? To stuff or not to stuff... To brine or not to brine... Yes, you can fast-cook a turkey at high-heat but should you? I think we all have debate fatigue; election fatigue; Washington gridlock fatigue -- and it's all somehow spilled over into Thanksgiving. We're going to the mountains so even the debate about whether we should have a second "fried" turkey (since we're sort of in the middle of the forest), is off the table as we'd probably burn the hills down. Steven Raichlen (the Beer-Can Chicken guy) does have a great BBQ'd turkey recipe, I've been told, but for the above reason we won't be trying that this year either...
Not to start a debate, but Thanksgiving is either the coziest or the most dysfunctional holiday on the planet -- and this year, we're all hoping that the ceasefire holds.
Lately, we have spent a lot of time contemplating the ways to explain Thanksgiving to Dane. We are diving into the stories of Pilgrims and Indians, but what I deeply want to convey to her this year, are the two sides of thankfulness - to give thanks for what we receive, while also finding joy in giving, so that we may create thankfulness in the hearts of others. I tend to teach her in ways that are tangible, so when I thought of our activities this week, the Thanksgiving feast came to mind.
"Would you like to make something for our Thanksgiving feast? Something all your own, that you can share with everyone?" I asked her.
To which she replied with excitement, "Of course! What can I make?"
"Butter!" I told her.
After all, butter is the binding creaminess passed from hand to hand and across the table with love. With each lick of butter shared, Dane may understand the heart-swell that comes with bringing contentment to others. Can't you just see hand-fulls of children shaking jars of fresh butter together on Thanksgiving Day!?