I love Thanksgiving. I love the change of seasons, it always feels like a great last hurrah to nicer weather and the peek of winter around the corner. I love fall flavors and colors, the warmth they invoke. I dread winter, so Thanksgiving still gives me the comfort of fall and I love to lose myself in the seasonal bounty and offerings and take the chance to remember how wonderful my life is and to give thanks.
There are still so many great local foods available this time of year that Thanksgiving is such a chance to cook and enjoy it with family.
This year my menu plan is pretty standard. I do everything Gluten Free, most things are Dairy Free and this year in deference to my nephew's newly diagnosed (serious) allergies we are peanut, tree nut, soy, sesame and navy bean free. Challenging, but I am finding it is working out ok.
Turkey--We get our turkeys from Cloverlawn Farms...haven't ever had a better turkey. These are free-range, pastured birds. No factory farmed meat here. They are processed the day we get them, can't get fresher than that unless you raise your own.
We like to brine our turkey per Alton Brown's recipe "Good Eats Roast Turkey"
After we brine it, I rinse and dry it and sprinkle freshly ground pepper inside and outside of bird and then slather under the skin with a compound herb butter.
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley
Mix all herbs into softened butter.
I place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan with a bit of chicken stock in the bottom of the pan and place a halved onion and some cloves of garlic in the bird cavity. I cook bird at 500 degrees for about 30 minutes to brown the bird and then stick the probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven to 350 degrees. If the bird seems to get too brown, I tent it with foil (I usually do end up tenting it). When bird is done (timing depends on size...I usually do a 20 lb bird... approx 3.5 hours give or take). When bird is done, I remove from oven, cover with foil and let it rest for 15-30 minutes before carving.
I do strain the drippings and put in my gravy separator to de-fat somewhat. I use the drippings to make gravy, but because the bird was brined the drippings do tend to be salty so I add them to homemade chicken stock to tone them down, makes a lovely gravy.
Stuffing-I grew up on stuffing made from Pepperidge Farms stuffing mix and vegetables. I loved the traditional flavor but once we started eating non-processed foods I had to create my own stuffing. It is very good in my opinion.
I saute onion, celery and mushrooms with some celtic sea salt and black peper till just about tender and then add some minced garlic and continue to saute till tender. I let cool and add it to dry Gluten Free bread cubes (I usually toast them before starting). I season with a bit more salt and pepper and some of Penzey's Poultry Seasoning. I then add enough warm chicken stock to have nice moist, but not swimming in water, stuffing blend. I add beaten eggs (usually 2 eggs to a big bowl) and stir till combined. I add it to a baking pan, sprinkle with paprika and cook it at 350 till top is crunchy and dry (for a large pan about 45 minutes to an hour).
I have developed a nice multi-grain Gluten-Free bread in my new bread machine. This year I am using it rather than a Bob's Red Mill Mix (due to the nut issue). I will post the recipe separately.
Mashed Potatoes- I use Yukon Gold potatoes, they give it a lovely buttery color and taste. I get my potatoes from CSA Farmer's Market. Instead of dairy to make them rich and creamy (and I don't like the taste of rice milk either) I use warm chicken stock and some chicken fat. I whip them in my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and they turn out nice and creamy. I season with salt and pepper.
Gravy-I make it from the drippings mixed with homemade chicken stock (which is unsalted) and add pepper and cornstarch mixed with water to thicken. I then add sliced cooked mushroooms and sometimes some leftover picked meat from the turkey carcass.
Sweet Potatoes -I love sweet potatoes and so do my kids. I simply roast them and mash them and serve them with butter (or coconut ghee for the non-dairy) and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Roasting them is the key, they turn out so sweet and caramelized they really don't need anything added to them.
Green Vegetable- This year I am doing just simple steamed green beans (organic/frozen) and broccoli, I do both because everyone in my family wants broccoli but Elliott can't have it, so the green beans are really for him, he loves them. I steam them till just crisp tender and then serve them with a sprinkling of Penzey's Sandwich Sprinkle seasoning.
Cranberry Sauce/Compote- I love this cooked cranberry sauce. I grew up with the raw cranberry/orange/sugar cranberry sauce and I love that too. My dad makes it so yummy and we usually have both.
I have adapted this recipe over the years. It originally came from foodtv and was called Fall Berry Conserve. Feel free to check it out online and make it either way. I almost always make a double batch.
1 (12 oz) package cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
1/2 cup orange juice
1 medium navel orange, unpeeled, chopped
1/2 cup honey (or to taste)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, grated
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried blueberries
2 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
Combine cranberries, juice and honey in sauce pan bring to boil over medium heat and cook till honey is melted. Add chopped orange (and any accumulated juices),and simmer until cranberries burst and mixture thickens a bit. Add dried fruit, ginger and crystallized ginger and let cook till dried fruit is plumped. Taste for sweetness and add more honey as needed.
Allow to cool then refrigerate. Can be made several days ahead.
Fruit-It is a family tradition to have fruit salad or a fruit tray with dessert. My parents are bringing it this year.
Pumpkin Pie- I use this dairy free healthy version from The Nourishing Gourmet To be gluten free I make a crust using ginger snap cookie crumbs and coconut oil. This year I needed to find an alternative to the cookies I usually use as they had nuts, so I developed my own recipe. I will post it later. I used organic brown sugar in them as I have been out of Sucanat and Whole Foods was out and 2 times it didn't get split to be able to order from the buying club I belong to. So as soon as I have more sucanat I plan to develop the recipe with no refined sweeteners. However, I must say these were really good cookies, much better than store bought.
Cranberry-Orange Cheesecake with a chocolate crust. This is an epicurious.com recipe and I haven't made it in years (since we went gluten free). My daughter begged me to make a cheesecake so I decided to pull out the recipe and substitute Gluten Free cookies in the crust.
Whip Cream- Homemade from Pastured cream and a bit of maple syrup to sweeten.
If I have time I might do an apple crisp, just because I love apples and cinnamon.
I hope to have leftover turkey (won't know the size of my turkey till we get it on Monday night) and make a pumpkin cream sauce pasta dish with turkey in it...Pampered Chef recipe that I sub brown rice pasta and canned coconut milk and curry powder to make it suitable for our diet.
Turkey soup is on the menu after T-day too. I also have salad greens from CSA Farmers Market and plan to have turkey, cheese and dried cherries on a salad. Yum!!