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.