Thanksgiving is Coming – Top Five Tips!

November 20, 2014  •  Best of the Food Web, Informational, Menus

china table settingIt seems like planning Thanksgiving dinner is a challenge for many people. What to cook, how to get the work done ahead of time, how to make sure special diets are met, how to enjoy the day without stressing yourself out – this must resonate with many of you out there as I’ve taught three Thanksgiving Prep classes in the past month to sold out audiences! Couldn’t make it? Not to worry as today I’m sharing my top 5 Thanksgiving tips (as well as lots of recipe links) for a great holiday meal!roast-turkey1. Do yourself a favor and ditch the commercially produced bird for a much more flavorful heritage breed turkey. You can order a heritage breed turkey from most Whole Foods or buy them at specialty butchers like Marczyk’s Fine Foods in Denver. Visit THIS POST for all of my turkey tips, including how to brine your bird (a must for heritage breed birds in my opinion).turnip potato apple mash2. Planning your side dishes and preparing them ahead of time can save lots of hassle on the big day. Virtually all of your side dishes can either be prepped and ready to cook (dressing, brussels sprouts, etc.), partially cooked (potato gratins), or fully cooked and ready to reheat or just serve (mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce). Click through to THIS POST for a recipe roundup if you’re still wondering what to make.aspen food and wine classic wine tasting3. Pick the right wine to match the meal. An acidic white wine, especially something off-dry, is perfect for turkey, and a light red won’t overwhelm the food. Look for unoaked chardonnay or off-dry Reisling for your white wine, and pinot noir or Beaujolais nouveau for your red wine. And here’s a tip: sparkling wine pairs with just about everything – and a rosé sparkler would be perfect!apples4. Do not cook your dressing stuffed inside the turkey! The science is pretty simple – in order to cook the center of the stuffing to a safe temperature, you would need to cook it far longer than the breast needs, resulting in dry, overcooked turkey. So safe stuffing = dry turkey, and moist turkey = undercooked and potentially dangerous stuffing. Instead make your dressing ahead of time, bake it off on Thanksgiving, then drizzle turkey drippings over it before serving to give it that “cooked in the bird” taste we all love. I’ve shared my favorite recipe below – it’s vegetarian, but you can add some sausage or bacon or pancetta to it if you like.pear-tart-with-frangipane5. And finally, MAKE TARTS instead of pie this year for dessert – they are easier to remove from the pan and slice into servings, making for a pretty presentation at the holiday table. That link will give you lots of my tart recipes, but you can also make your favorite pie in a tart pan if your family insists on tradition.

Mushroom, Apple and Sage Dressing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 8 servings
  • 2 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 ounces mushroom caps, crimini, quartered
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 large egg (optional if allergic)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, or more to taste
  • ½ cup chicken stock (or vegetable if making vegetarian)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 5 cups loaf Italian bread, cubed (about ½ loaf)
  • 1 apple, diced
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally. If mushrooms are cooking too quickly, reduce heat to medium to reduce the risk of burning. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. Add remaining oil to the pan and add celery, carrots and onions; cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. While vegetables are cooking, combine eggs, cream, and stock together and whisk until well combined. In a large bowl, toss together the bread with the mushrooms, vegetable mixture, liquid ingredients, melted butter, apples, sage and rosemary. Put stuffing into a large oven safe dish and press down into an even layer. Bake, uncovered or covered, at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. If desired, pour some turkey drippings over the dressing prior to serving.



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