Thanksgiving Part 1

I, like most people I know, generally spend Thanksgiving with my family.  However, as mentioned previously, I found myself wanting to celebrate the holidays with my "chosen" family members - my closest friends.  A few years back, I took some of my family recipes and threw together a holiday spread fit for a group of friends.  

Whether you're cooking your first Thanksgiving dinner, or are looking for some alternative options, here are some simple recipes to get you started on the basics:

MASHED POTATOES (Nope, not the boxed kind!)

1 small bag potatoes

2-3 tablespoons butter (or substitute)

1 c milk (dairy or non-dairy)*

 

1.  Peel and dice (about 1 1/2" - 2" cubes) potatoes.

2.  In a large pot, boil potatoes until tender.  (About 20 minutes)

3.  Drain excess water from potatoes.

4.  Add butter and half of the milk to the potatoes.

5.  Using a potato masher (or mixer) mix the potatoes, milk, and butter until well-blended - adding milk as necessary to thin.  

 

*If using non-dairy, I usually use rice milk, as it withstands cooking/heating better than almond, and I have a soy allergy.

 

GRAVY (Nope, not the jar kind!)

2-3 c turkey drippings (as in, off the bird you just cooked)*

1/2 c flour

1/4 c COLD water (give or take)**

salt and pepper (to taste)

 

1.  Place turkey drippings in a medium sauce pan and place on stove over low heat.

2.  Place flour in a small bowl.

3.  Add the water to the flour.

4.  Using a wire whisk, mix the flour and water (adding more water as necessary) until it resembles a pourable, cake batter consistency.

5.  Slowly pour the flour mix into the turkey drippings, mixing with the wire whisk.

6.  Increase the heat to a medium heat - continuously whisking the gravy until it thickens to the desired consistency.

7.  Remove from heat.

8.  Salt and pepper to taste.

 

*Try to get as much fat off the top of it as you can.  I generally pour the drippings into a medium sauce pan or use the baster to put it in.  You can usually see the layer of grease rise to the top.  I'll use either a spoon or a folded paper towel to get as much of that grease as I can out of the drippings.

If there aren't enough drippings, you can add some turkey or chicken stock to make up the difference. 

**Don't worry if your gravy turns out a little lumpy.  It took me a few years to get mine non-lumpy.  Practice makes perfect, and I've found it has to do with the amount of water and mixing it.  At this point in the game, I actually add the water slowly - directly from the tap, stirring it as I go until it reaches the desired consistency.  If you know your way around a gravy starter and feel confident doing it that way, have at it.  If you're relatively new to the gravy game, start with the 1/4 cup and add more as needed. 

The potatoes and gravy will give you a great start to your Thanksgiving dinner.  Keep an eye out for the coup de grâce, when I share my homemade stuffing and pumpkin pie recipes in the next week or so.