Scary turkey head from a stock photo program I own….
Our family looks forward to the Thanksgiving holiday every year, it’s one of our favorite weeks of the year. My father, mother, brother and his girlfriend have joined us here for Thanksgiving for the last five years now. This year, my dad retired and they will be here a little longer than usual! My father and mother (step-mom, but that’s a technicality) are both wonderful foodies. When this family gathers, we eat well! We’ve had a basic menu that we pull from for the last few years, and we don’t normally deviate too much from that since we don’t usually have much time. This year, since we have a few extra precious days with them, we’re changing things a bit and trying a few new things.
Oh, and did I mention that we’re doing dinner for 15 this year?
Yep. Our little house is going to be full!
With the added element of gluten intolerance in our family, planning for Thanksgiving dinner takes a little extra effort (which is probably why we’ve stuck with the basic plan for so long!). Here’s a rundown of the plans for this year:
Appetizers have not always been served, but with so many people coming I’m thinking it might not be a bad idea. My dad has a salmon spread (at least I think that’s what he’s planning on!) that he’s going to make that apparently is amazing. I’ve never tried it, so I’m really looking forward to it! We’ll also do a cheese platter, because I’ve found a great co-op that sells amazing cheese at a huge discount. I am planning on pretending that dairy does not bother me a bit that week, just so you know.
We usually brine a turkey overnight and then roast it….so tender, juicy and good! One year we wrapped the turkey in bacon and roasted it, which resulted in some very excellent gravy but also in an anemic-looking turkey that looked like it had been boiled rather than roasted. Probably won’t do that again. This year, my mom has a really interesting rolled turkey breast recipe that we might try. I’m thinking that since we love leftovers (that’s the best thing about Thanksgiving dinner…the repeat performances for days afterward!) we will do one large turkey plus a turkey breast for the crowd this year.
The stuffing is probably my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. I know that’s weird. We do this wonderful gluten-free stuffing using sausage, apples, lots of sage, and gluten free stuffing cubes from Ener-G. I know….the apples sound really strange. I promise you…they don’t taste like apples at all, but make the stuffing really tangy, moist and flavorful. I would never have believed it until I tasted it myself, so you’re just going to have to trust me!
I also always make cranberry relish…the last few years I’ve made it in advance and canned it so that we don’t have to worry about it on Thanksgiving day. I toss in two packages of cranberries, two large cans of Mandarin oranges with the juice, four cups water and four cups sugar. Cook until thick. This makes enough to have relish on Christmas day, too!
We’ll do some mashed potatoes with gravy…thickened with corn starch rather than flour. Always mix your corn starch with water before adding it to the gravy to avoid clumping!
My mom is bringing sweet potatoes this year…she has something really yummy up her sleeve, I’m sure. In the past, we’ve done them this way…sweet potato rounds with pecans, butter and brown sugar. So good!
Side dishes…we’ve made peas with turnips and bacon before, but this year Hubby’s mom will be bringing a green vegetable so we won’t have to worry about it! Hubby’s aunt is also bringing her amazing Caesar Salad (sans croutons, of course), and if I get the recipe for it I will definitely share it with you.
Somebody is bringing some rolls, which I will put in a bowl and wrap in cloth napkins and keep far away from the rest of the food, to avoid crumbing all over the place and contaminating things. I used to try and make gluten free breads for Thanksgiving, but found that since Eldest and I will already be gorging ourselves on all the other food, we absolutely do not miss the rolls. They just take up valuable stomach space that could be filled with more gluten free stuffing!
And….finally….dessert. Ah, dessert! I’m making pies in advance…and I’ve splurged and purchased a gluten free pecan pie from a local gluten free bakery. That, and two dozen gluten free sugar cookies….yeah, I know. But you only live once! We’ll be eating the cookies over the week, not on Thanksgiving day.
Normally I make a pumpkin spice cheesecake with a crust made of Mi-del gluten free ginger snaps, covered in whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce (find the recipe here). I’m kind of tired of that, though. So this year in addition to the pecan pie and a regular pumpkin pie (made with the GF crust found in this recipe), I will make a three layer cheesecake with a crust from GF chocolate cookies (I am still deciding which cookies to use…maybe K-Toos sandwich cookies from Kinnikinnik
So, there you have it! And if you are doing your first gluten free Thanksgiving and would like some help making family favorites edible for you this year, please, please don’t hesitate to email me. I would be happy to help you out! There’s no reason why a gluten-free Thanksgiving can’t be just as wonderfully tasty as a regular one, and I’d hate for you to be stressed out about it!
Here’s the recipe for those interested (its’ not my own invention, but I can’t remember where it came from):
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 5 cups chopped onion (about 3 large)
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 6 cups diced cored tart green apples (such as Granny Smith)
- 1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 5 1/2 cups Ener-G stuffing/croutons, gluten free (Order these NOW or find them at a health food store…or you could toast a loaf of Ener-G bread until it’s hard and cube it yourself).
Sauté sausage in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling sausage with back of spoon, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to large bowl. Add butter, onions and celery to skillet; sauté until onions are tender, about 15 minutes. Add apples; sauté until apples are tender but still hold shape, about 10 minutes. Add sage, thyme and allspice; sauté 1 minute. Add to sausage. Stir in stuffing cubes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously butter a baking dish. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Cover with foil and bake until heated through, about 40 minutes.