The holidays are officially upon us! It is my favorite time of year, when the weather is changing, the temperature drops and everyone wants to get together. It is also the magical time when Mariah Carey is defrosted and we give our best shot at explaining our jobs to random relatives.
Thanksgiving is the second favorite holiday in the U.S. and it is estimated that 250 million pounds of potatoes are consumed during Thanksgiving week! I really enjoy cooking Thanksgiving dinner, which is really an intense sport. In fact, that is one of the most popular days for a run – there are over 1,500 races in America every year (“Turkey Trots”). It is estimated that over 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten during the holiday, which is very concerning for the molasses supply chain. So much so that in 1705, a city in Connecticut pushed the holiday due to a molasses shortage.
We all have busy lives, juggling school, work, family obligations and our attempts at self-care. For my first contribution to The Oppy, I figured that I could share some of my favorite recipes (all tested!) that are way less daunting than they sound. It is time to start the spreadsheets to play your grocery shopping to make sure you only face the crowd once. Yes, you should get an extra carton of heavy cream because you will probably need it last minute. My first recommendation to get through the holiday dinner marathon is to clean out and organize your kitchen cabinets and fridge – you don’t want anything taking up precious New York City real estate for no reason.
You will need fuel for this task, but you also don’t want to make a mess in the kitchen right now, so I encourage you to try something like this baked egg casserole – just toast some bread and you should be nourished to start working on the fun stuff.
In my humble opinion, sides are the true stars of Thanksgiving dinner. Every year I make this super easy corn casserole, which is a popular dish in the Southeast. I would recommend fresh corn but it comes out great with frozen corn as well! You can customize with spices and herbs of your choice, and the dairy items can be substituted for non-dairy versions. I usually make it in the morning and reheat at night and it tastes great.
Fall vegetables are amazing and I am a big fan of simply roasted brussels sprouts or some form of gourd. But if you are looking for a different way to serve them, I would go for a savory tart – this crust is super simple and will impress your guests. If you are looking for a foolproof option, you can always get frozen puff pastry and turn it into a galette – also amazing with fresh fruit filling.
Finally, the star of the holiday, turkey: to brine or not to brine? If you are on turkey duty for your Thanksgiving dinner, you have probably faced this question. I personally prefer a marinade as it adds a ton of flavor. Using a citric element (I love orange juice for this) helps to break down the collagen in the meat, but when using acidic marinades you should not leave it for too long. Adding a sweet element to the marinade, such as honey (fruit as well), will make the meat slightly caramelize. This marinade is a great starting point. The drippings will make the best gravy!
I am always in charge of desserts and I have done extensive research on this topic. Petee’s Pie in New York City makes some of the best pies ever. They have an amazing cookbook and their pie crust is not only amazing but also very easy to make – you can watch it here. You can use the freshly picked apples from your most recent orchard trip because who doesn’t love apple pie?
I am not a wine specialist but I do enjoy something lighter like a Beaujolais or a delicate Pinot Noir with the dinner. If you prefer cocktails, a festive bourbon-based drink like this one is a great choice. This fizzy mocktail is refreshing and a great non-alcoholic option.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes? I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming break with their family and loved ones!
Featured image by : HECTOR M. SANCHEZ