Hello SOTGC community,
Well, Thanksgiving is almost upon us – the day Americans gather with loved ones and give thanks for all their great blessings in life. It is also a day where many of us eat. And eat. And eat.
Wishing your Thanksgiving could be a bit healthier and easier on the waistline? Perhaps it is time you move the focus of your festivities more onto your family than on your food. Getting people positively interacting will cut down on the chow time; after all, it is rather hard to carry on a conversation with your mouth full.
Have a group that is not on the social side? There are many ways to get family engaged with one another. Break out old photos of other happy times to share. Child photos, weddings, birthdays and other special events can work really great. Call up a loved one that couldn’t make the trip this year and have everyone speak to them through a speakerphone. The person on the other end of the line will love the gesture.
Make Some Moves
Adding some exercise into the day can be great for everyone too. Have everyone go for a family walk (this is especially great after dinner to help work off some of the meal). Put on some fun tunes and have a little dancing session. If you have a really open crowd, throw in a yoga tape. OK, I will not surprised if only a few California readers even consider this tip, but try to get creative and maybe you might stumble upon some good, clean active fun for the family to enjoy together.
Believe it or not, video games can sometimes be a great ice breaker, as well as highly social. In my family, many holidays have included everyone jamming on faux guitars and drums and singing to Wii’s Rock Band game. Talk about great photo opportunities! Imagine having grandma rocking out with her grandkids.
Be Sensitive to Needs
Most important is that interactions between everyone are kept positive as much as humanly possible. Holidays can be stressful times for many, especially if there has been a recent tragedy, such as a loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, stress can be linked to an increase in other issues, including overeating. It’s at times like this we need to remember how a joy shared is twice a joy, and grief shared is half a sorrow. Relying on each other (especially instead of food) to help deal with whatever issues are at hand will make for a stronger family and a happier, healthier Thanksgiving celebration.
Of course, eventually everyone will need to eat! Here are a few recipes that I love to prepare for my family for Thanksgiving; hopefully your family will enjoy them as well. Happy Thanksgiving and, for those of you doubly celebrating this year, Happy Hanukah too.
Chef Michelle’s Holiday Recipes:
- Spice-Rubbed Roasted Turkey with Sage Gravy
- Cranberry-Ginger Chutney
- Roasted Root Vegetables
- Turkey stock
Spice rubbed Turkey with Sage Gravy
Here I use arrowroot in place of the usual flour for thickening. With flour you have to cook it at least 20 minutes to get the flour taste out, but arrowroot leaves no flavor so you can get delicious results much more quickly, and I think the gravy tastes cleaner and more savory than when using flour for thickening.
- ¼ cup Olive Oil, extra-virgin, refrigerated to firm its consistency
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Sage, fresh, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons Coriander Seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
- ½ tablespoon Black Pepper, fresh ground
- 1 14-16 pound Turkey, cavity fat removed
- 1 small Onion, yellow, peeled
- 1 ½ tablespoons Cloves, whole
- 2 large Shallots, peeled, halved
- 5-6 large Garlic Cloves, peeled
- ½ medium Orange, quartered
- 1 small Leek, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons Butter, unsalted, melted
- ½ cup, plus as needed Arrowroot
- 2 quarts Turkey Stock
- In a bowl, mix the ¼ cup of oil with ¼ cup of sage. In a small skillet, toast the coriander seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool. Then grind to a powder. Mix the coriander with the salt and pepper.
- Starting from the cavity end of the turkey, carefully separate the turkey skin from the breast meat by using your fingers. Gently rub the sage oil under the skin and evenly coat the breasts. Season the outside of the turkey and the inner cavity with the seasoned salt. Refrigerate the turkey overnight. Bring turkey to room temperature before roasting (about 2 hours).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take the onion and stud it allover with the clove, then stuff it into the turkey cavity, along with the shallots, garlic, orange, and leek. Tie the turkey legs together. Brush the melted butter on the turkey and roast it about 2 ½ hours, basting every 30 minutes. Halfway through the roasting, rotate the turkey (to ensure even cooking). Cover the breast loosely with foil during the last hour of roasting. Cook to 165 degrees (insert thermometer into inner thigh to check doneness).
- Transfer turkey to carving board and allow it to rest 30 minutes. Pour the pan juices into a measuring cup. Set roasting pan with the over 2 burners on moderate heat. Add three cups of the turkey stock and scrap up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add all but one cup of the remaining turkey stock to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer 10 minutes. Pour the reserved pan juices back into the pan. Season with salt and pepper and add in the 2 tablespoons of minced sage.
- Place the arrowroot in a mixing bowl. Take a few tablespoons out from the reserved one cup of stock and mix it into the arrowroot, turning it into a thick paste. Add a few more tablespoons of stock to the arrowroot, and mix until the arrowroot has a smooth consistency. While whisking, slowly add the liquid arrowroot mixture into the pan, a few tablespoons at a time, to thicken the gravy. Once the desired consistency is reached, stop adding the arrowroot. If the gravy is not thick enough after adding all the prepared arrowroot, then whisk in a couple more tablespoons of arrowroot (make sure to first mix arrowroot with some of the remaining reserved turkey stock to liquefy it before whisking it into your gravy, otherwise you will make lumps). Carve the turkey and serve on a platter with the Sage Gravy.
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 2 medium Shallots, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons Ginger, minced
- 2 cups Orange juice, fresh squeezed
- 1 cup Light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Orange zest
- 1/2 cup White Wine vinegar
- 1.5 pounds Cranberries (2 bags)
- 1 tablespoon Golden Mustard Seeds
In a large, deep pan, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the shallot and ginger and cook until the shallot is softened, about a couple of minutes. Add the orange juice, sugar and cinnamon stick, stir until the sugar dissolves, then simmer until the orange juice is reduced by about third (about 5 minutes). Add the orange zest, cider vinegar, cinnamon stick and cranberries to the pan and cook the cranberries until they completely burst, about 12 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let the chutney cool.
In a small, dry fry pan add the mustard seeds and toast over a medium heat until the seeds become fragrant, about a minute. Make sure to move the seeds around in the pan as you cook them so that they cook evenly. Add the toasted seeds to the chutney and stir so that they are evenly distributed.
When the chutney is completely cooled, remove and discard the cinnamon stick.
Makes about 4 cups of chutney.
Serving size: 2 tablespoons.
Root Vegetables Roasted Red
Red beets really give this dish a great look since, as the dish roasts, the red color transfers onto the edges of the other vegetables. If you don’t like beets, you can omit them (of course, then the dish will not live up to its “Roasted Red” name.) I do suggest cutting the sweet potato into larger sized pieces than the other vegetables since its cooking time is less. I also recommend wearing gloves when peeling the beets so your fingers are not turned red.
- 2 medium Beets, red, peeled, diced medium
- 2 medium Carrots, peeled, diced medium
- 2 medium Parsnips, peeled, diced medium
- 2 medium Sweet potatoes, peeled, diced medium-large
- 4 small Red Potatoes, diced medium (skins on)
- 1 medium Onion, peeled, sliced into 12 wedges
- 12 cloves, large Garlic, peeled
- 1/3 cup Olive oil
- 1 tb Herbs de Provence
- 1/8 tsp White pepper
- 1/2 tsp Sea salt, smoked
- 1/3 cup + as needed Vegetable Stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place beets in large mixing bowl along with the carrot, parsnip, sweet potato, onion, garlic cloves, olive oil, Herbs de Provence, pepper and salt.
Place vegetable mix in a roast pan along with the 1/3 cup of the stock. Roast vegetables until tender (but not mushy), about an hour, making sure to toss vegetables occasionally during cooking and add more stock, 1/4 cup at a time, as needed.
Season with additional salt to taste and serve warm.
To be used in the Spice Rubbed Turkey with Sage Gravy recipe.
- 7 1/2 pounds Turkey parts (wings, thighs, and/or drumsticks)
- 3/4 teaspoon Salt
- 15 cups Water
- 1 large Onion, thickly sliced
- 2 large Carrots, thickly sliced
- 2 large Celery ribs, thickly sliced
- 3 large Garlic cloves, sliced in half
- ¼ bunch Parsley, fresh, whole
- ½ dozen Black peppercorns, whole
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season the turkey parts with the salt, then roast in a large roasting pan for an hour until well-browned, making sure to turn occasionally. Transfer meat to a large pot.
- Set roasting pan over 2 burners. Add 3 cups of the water and boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add this liquid to the pot, along with the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, peppercorns and the remaining 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to moderately low, then cover partially and simmer stock for about 2 ½ hours. Do not stir the stock while simmering. Skim the fat from stock and strain before using.
Make ahead: the stock can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days or the freezer for up to a month.