By Chef Joey
It’s that time of year when Thanksgiving rolls in and families plan the annual get together, kids
look forward to three days off and parents scramble to find things to do on “Black Friday.” All the anticipation building up and then it hits and three weeks later the same people are at your door for Christmas.
As a European-raised child, Thanksgiving was a day of turkey, veggies and play time; once and a while it snowed. There was no ceremony associated with it
like Christmas, or Easter; it was a day for turkey and anything
else my mother cooked. As an adult, it’s a labor of love: cooking cleaning, dishes, laundry … then vacuuming the house again.
Now that I have a 4-year-old, the tradition light bulb kicked on. I must create memories for the rest
of her life! Platters that she will be excited to eat on this holiday, that she too will make in the future for her loved ones! I cannot believe it took me this long to figure that out! And now I finally get why so many of my friends love this holiday: it represents everything that was a comfort to us
as children – and now as providers.
I went to Hawaii, California, Washington State and even Iceland to avoid the stress, the belly aches and most of all the football games that ensued.
So, this year marks a first for me. I will create the Martha Stewart (formerly Betty Crocker in my day)
magical dinner and fancy pies for my family. It is really an easy dinner to make, and one of the least expensive when your store gives you free turkeys for shopping points or sells them at a whopping .79 cents per pound. The turkey is a no brainer really, it is all about the crispy skin and keeping it moist – the secret is to
bring it up to room temperature before you put it in the oven – you can stuff it which adds 5 minutes per pound cooking time. Generally, its 10 minutes per pound unstuffed and 15 minutes stuffed – that has
always been my basis, at 350 degrees.
I only oil the carcass and sprinkle with sage, or Bell’s seasoning is
always consistent, and I place two
onions that I cut almost in half in
the pan to flavor up the broth to
make a scrumptious beverage
gravy. I have found that corn starch makes a fantastic thickener, and less lumps and it is gluten free.
By combining the “drippings” with hot water then with
¼ cup cold water add 2 tablespoons corn starch – mix well and add to your gravy mix and minutes later it is ready to pour. I have not figured out what sides to make, and
the joy of this holiday is everything can be more or
less baked or boiled to be cooked – green beans can be made either way, as is sweet potato, or squash.
Acorn squash is always lovely cut in half a tablespoon of butter in the cavity, sprinkle some cinna-
mon and drizzle with maple syrup (or add a little brown sugar). Bake for a good hour and it is done.
If you make butternut squash and you peel cube and boil it – what you don’t finish you can add
chicken stock to it and thin is out and make a soup for Friday’s lunch.
Sweet potato leftovers can be turned into a pie very easily – just follow a pumpkin pie recipe and substitute the pumpkin with sweet potato.
My stuffing recipe is an amalgam of my French Grandmother and my French mother’s creation. For 1 turkey …
… I take 5 stalks of celery chopped fine and 2 large onions chopped fine and I sauté them in a little sunflower oil and a tiny bit of water, so it does
I add a fistful of chopped fresh sage. But if I cannot get it, I use Bells seasoning (about 3 table-
spoons) to the mix.
Then I add 1 pound of ground
beef and I tube (1 pound) of thawed breakfast sausage, like Jimmy dean for example. I add a cup of raisins and cook until the meat is no longer pink.
Let it cool and then take one box of “Saltine” crack-mers and crush all 4 sleeves and mix with the cooked meats – it’s that simple! You can add pine nuts to it or chestnuts that you have chopped up as well.
♥️Veggie Option: You can also take the meat out and substitute 2 cups cooked lentils instead for a vegan stuffing – it works
If you do not stuff the turkey, and cook it in the oven, the key is to add some of the juices with your handy baster on top to add a little “fat” and flavor to your stuffing, I have quite a few friends who have turned this into their “family” recipe, and now I can honestly say my little Gigi will have this 80 year old recipe going on for quite a few more years!
🍎I am not a big dessert person, and I was playing around with some apple cider, and decided to make
I shredded 2 peeled apples with the big side of the cheese grater. I combined 2 ½ cups flour, 1
tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ginger and ¼ tsp ground cloves ¼ tsp
salt. Mix this together – in a pan melt 1 stick of butter until soft, mix in 1 cup cold cider then pour
over flour mix and stir – add in your apples and 1 tablespoon of vanilla.
This is when I taste the batter – I am not a sugar person, so I added ½ cup to the mix and that was plenty for me. I do not like sweet desserts – this also made great cupcakes.
For the cake I used a well-greased Bundt pan for cupcakes use liners for best results – bake at 350 for
about 35 mins – test with a cake tester for cakes – about 15 mins for cupcakes.
You can dust the top of your warm muffins with a mix of sugar and
cinnamon for extra flavor.
What ever your tradition, even if
its small, enjoy the day and the opening to the festive Christmas season.
Be safe, be warm and eat healthy!
Veggie 🎄main dish🎄 option: