Our Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes: Let’s Dig Deeper into the Tradition
On Thanksgiving Day we can celebrate what we are sincerely thankful for. And this is the best part of this national holiday. It brings families together. It brings warm memories back. It brings true gratitude into our life. At least for one day – for the fourth Thursday of November.
Thanksgiving as a Holiday and Practice
Even if you have to wake up unforgivably early in the morning of November 22, even if your child or friend has only one hour to drop in to your place and say hello before they rush to the airport, even if you have hundreds of other reasons to get upset this day, think about one smallest thing you really feel thankful for. And celebrate it.
Science claims that the feeling of sincere gratitude has a positive impact on our health and well-being. It does not matter what you are grateful for or who you are grateful to. Just realize it, and you will feel happier. That has been proven in a 2017 study at UC Berkeley.
And that is another great reason to make the most of annual Thanksgiving celebrations.
Of course, the Thanksgiving tradition has a long history and solid religious core. Some historians believe that the holiday traces centuries back to pre-Columbian America, when local tribes observed harvest festivals and thanked their gods for the food they could stock up for winter.
Other researchers argue that the practice of thanksgiving was established by the Pilgrims in the early 17th century. To live a new life in the New World, European settlers had to cross the dangerous Atlantic Ocean and adapt themselves to very different environments. So, by having little thanksgiving celebrations, the immigrants expressed their gratitude to God for survival, faith, and fertility of the fields where they worked hard. Also, these celebrations marked peaceful coexistence of Europeans and native Americans on one land.
In 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation. In it, the first President of the United States called upon Americans to express gratitude for the happy end of the war of independence and for the opportunity to establish a new, better form of national government.
At the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln encouraged our great-great-grandparents to ask God to save the American nation and care about all sufferers of the strife. By the way, President Lincoln is the man we all should thank to for establishing Thanksgiving Day as an official federal holiday in 1863.
Whatever you are going to celebrate at Thanksgiving in 2018, make sure you are going to celebrate it with the right people and traditional holiday menu. All in all, good people and good food are exactly what makes us feel really happy. Again, science has proved that.
And remember to thank yourself for staying with people you love and cooking your and their favorite festive foods.
What Is on Your Thanksgiving Dinner Menu in 2018?
After all the vibes of happiness and thankfulness in the cool November air, a hearty Thanksgiving meal is certainly the second best part of the holiday.
While it is up to you who you are celebrating with and what you are grateful for, let Marky’s help you with throwing the most sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner. How about digging deeper into the culinary tradition of this holiday and treating your dearest to delicious variations of so classical dishes?
Let’s start with turkey
Have you ever wondered why roasted turkey has become a must-cook Thanksgiving main dish?
So have many historians. They found that the wild turkey was indigenous to North America when the first Pilgrims arrived at the coasts. The settlers included the bird into their thanksgiving menus, though it did not become the main dish. Venison was the main meat.
Yet, nowadays, venison is rather a holiday delicacy, while turkey has taken its rightful central place on our tables. No doubt, roasting and eating turkey has turned into both a family and a nation-wide tradition. But here we have a few tips on modernizing it a bit and making it even more delicious.
- Before placing the turkey into the oven, bring it to the room temperature,
- Use a roasting rack to provide air circulation around the bottom of the turkey in the oven.
- Before you roast the turkey and while it is roasting, use butter – the more the better. It is key for crispy skin you like so much.
- Pair your Thanksgiving turkey with tomatoes or bell peppers, pears or oranges, black olives or black truffles, berries or nuts, ginger and herbs. Select your best combination of flavors.
And what would you say about modifying the turkey tradition slightly? Check out this recipe for two-way turkey roulade.
To prepare turkey, you will need:
- 4 boneless and skinless turkey breasts (about 8 lb.)
- 1 1/2 tbsp. canola oil
- kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
Butterfly the breasts crosswise but do not cut all the way trough. Over one open breast, place a piece of plastic wrap. Pound to a rectangle about 0.25 inch thick (12 inches x 14 inches). Season the breast with salt and pepper. Repeatwith the other breast.
To make the bacon-mushroom filling, use:
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 lb. assorted mushrooms, chopped
- 1/3 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped
- 3 tbsp. seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/4 c. (or to taste) dry white wine (choose your favorite)
- kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
Fry the bacon over medium heat until the meat gets crisp (6-8 min.). Remove the bacon to a plate and pour off all but 1 1/2 tbsp. drippings. To the remaining drippings add mushrooms, stir them occasionally and cook until they get brownish (8-10 min.) Add chopped parsley and scallions, stir occasionally and cook until the scallions get tender (2 min.). Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates (3-4 min.). Add the breadcrumbs and season the medley with salt and pepper.
To make the sausage-corn bread filling, use:
- 8 oz. Italian sausage (remove the casing)
- 2 c. corn bread, crumbled
- 1/2 c. chicken stock
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp. chopped thyme
- kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
Fry sausage over medium heat. While cooking, break it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the meat loses its pinkish tint (5-7 min.). Stir in garlic, thyme, and corn bread. Cook for 1 min. Remove the medley from heat and stir in the chicken stock. Add salt and pepper.
To assemble the roulade:
- Spread half of the filling onto one breast. Press to adhere.
- Roll tightly from one long side and secure with the butcher’s twine.
- Tuck the ends under and tie lengthwise with the butcher’s twine again.
- Rub the roulades with oil evenly.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bake the assembled roulade on the baking sheet for 40-45 min., until an instant-read thermometer reads 165F in the thickest part. Let the roulade cool for 10 min. and slice. Enjoy!
Dressing. Or stuffing, if you are a Northerner
Logically, dressing should be what we bake in a casserole dish together with and around the bird, while stuffing should be what we stuff into the bird. But logic never rules in our world.
Southerners stuff the bird with “dressing,” and Northerners dress the bird with “stuffing.” The cooking techniques do not differ too much. The only difference you should really mind is that Southerners prefer to call the dish “dressing,” and Northerners prefer to call it “stuffing.” That is it.
Classic Thanksgiving dressing includes cubed cornbread, chicken broth, butter, onion, garlic, celery, sage, thyme, and other herbs you like. The more generous portion you make, the more delectable the dressing appears.
Classic is great. But this year we offer you to experiment with it. Here are three dressing ideas that will help you add new savors to the traditional dish.
- Add pork sausage, combined with Granny Smith apples or apple puree, cranberries, and pecans.
- Surprise your guests with the pungent seafood relish: add fresh shrimps, canned crab meat, bell peppers, and cream cheese. But make sure you exclude garlic and onion.
- Make it mushroomy. Add fried mushrooms and bacon to fill in the dressing with rich piquant flavors.
Casserole that tastes in a new way
Can you imagine American home cuisine without casserole? Could you put up with the fact that you never knew how to cook this dish? Well, even if casserole had not been brought to the United States in the early 20th century, still it would definitely arrive to the New World sooner or later. Just because this originally French Canadian dish is fabulous.
Its inventor, Elmire Jolicoeur, was a French Canadian immigrant. He introduced the first casserole in Berlin, New Hampshire, in 1866. So, let’s thank him for his culinary innovation.
Casserole is a simple and nutritious treat. All you need to do is preheat the oven, combine ingredients, remember to cover a bowl with foil, and bake for 30-40 minutes. This technique is unlikely to change in the nearest decades.
But what can and should be changed in this dish is the set of ingredients. Try one (or more) of these combinations of flavors to impress your dear foodies with a scrumptious novelty.
- Butternut squash + pie pumpkin + pumpkin puree + maple syrup + walnuts + oats.
- Sweet potatoes + Gruyere + breadcrumbs.
- Canned artichoke hearts + Monterey Jack + Parmesan + canned crab meat + cream cheese.
The pumpkin casserole will taste much better with cinnamon and brown sugar. Yes, it seems to be a perfect Thanksgiving dessert, so you can serve it in the end of the dinner.
Add some thyme to the casserole with sweet potatoes. The pairing will leave none of your guests cold.
And the cheesy casserole will get even more impressive with a dollop of Worcestershire sauce and some mayo.
Oh, and don’t forget to stock up on butter. You will need loads of it.
More mac and cheese for adults and kids
If at this Thanksgiving you decide to serve macaroni and cheese, drink a toast for Thomas Jefferson and thank him for introducing this fascinating Italian dish to Americans in the early 19th century.
The original recipe for mac and cheese appeared in Mary Randolph’s book “The Virginia Housewife,” published in 1824. According to Mary’s recipe, macaroni, cheese, and butter should be layered and baked together. Simplicity is genius.
But to make the dish more festive, let’s add a few other ingredients and make the cooking process somewhat more complex. The result is definitely worth the efforts: you will get four-cheese macaroni with pecans.
You will need:
- 12 oz. pasta
- 1 c. shredded Fontina
- 1 c. shredded Monterey Jack
- 1 c. shredded Asiago
- 2 c. shredded Cheddar
- 1/2 c. chopped bacon, cooked
- 3 c. milk
- 1/2 c. butter + 2 tbsp. melted butter
- 1/2 c. flour
- 1 1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/2 c. chopped pecans
- paprika to taste
- Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions and preheat the oven to 350°.
- Melt 1/2 c. butter over low heat, whisk in flour and paprika until the mixture gets smooth. Cook and whisk constantly for 1 min. Then, slowly whisk in the milk, continue whisking the mixture for 6-7 min or until it thickens and bubbles. Remove the mixture from heat.
- Toss the cheeses in a bowl. But reserve 1 1/2 c. of the cheese mixture. Add the remaining cheese and pasta to the sauce. Toss to coat. Spoon into a backing dish, lightly greased with olive oil. Top with the cheese mixture you reserved.
- Toss the breadcrumbs with bacon, pecans, and remaining butter. Sprinkle over the mac and cheese.
- Bake for 35-45 min. or until the top of the dish bubbles and gets golden brown.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Sweets! Don’t forget sweets
No time for baking an apple pie? You still have multiple sweet options. Choose some Belgium chocolates, classic French tartlets or macarons, and, say, some fig bonbons. Got it? Now let your guests choose the best match for their tea, coffee, or stronger beverages.
Happy and tasty Thanksgiving to you from Marky’s!
Thank you for choosing our treats. Enjoy!