It’s November, and Thanksgiving is on its way! Every time I think of Thanksgiving, it is a reminder of COVID times, calling to mind a feeling of gratitude as I remember that the takeout and delivery aspect of my business started with Thanksgiving during COVID in 2020. The ability to maneuver in that way saved me, helping me to come out on the other side, and not have to close my catering business like many did.
Thanksgiving is also a lot of work: the gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, side dishes, desserts, not to mention the turkey itself. And cooking the turkey can be quite nerve-wracking. You don’t want to overcook it – there’s nothing worse than dry turkey. But then again it’s dangerous if it’s not fully cooked enough.
For our catering menu for the day of thanks we prepare a Maple Brined Roasted Turkey Breast, Oven Roasted with Fresh Herbs and Garlic.And for those who might like to bypass the bird, we offer two alternatives:Dijon Maple Glazed Spiral Ham with Orange, Bourbon, Honey and Fresh Thyme, or, as a vegetarian option, a Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna with Wild Mushrooms, Leeks, Rosemary and Sage.
Talking turkey – the gravy, that is – I use the drippings from the turkey, make a roux (which can be tricky), and incorporate the giblets, which I cook up as well. I’ve made gallons of gravy – in that first year, like 13 gallons. There are choices in this area also: Traditional Giblet Gravy, and, a vegetarian option, Wild Mushroom Gravy with Trumpet, Yellow Oyster and Shiitake Mushrooms.
Then there’s the stuffing. I like stuffing. We prepare various options here. There’s a gluten-free, vegan option: Wild and Brown Rice Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms, Toasted Almonds. Our Herbed Challah Stuffing includes Leeks, Shallots and Celery Leaves, and our Cornbread Stuffing incorporates Andouille Sausage, Bacon, Onion, Red Bell Pepper and Fresh Herbs.
For mashed potatoes – second most popular food served on Thanksgiving, according to one article – there’s the Traditional Mashed Potatoes (gluten free) using Russet Potatoes Whipped with Salted Butter and Cream, or a variation, Caramelized Shallot Mashed Potatoes (gluten free).(You could even set up a mashed potato station with various items to top off the whipped goodness!) We also prepare Whipped Yams (gluten free and vegan), with Coconut milk, Cinnamon, Ginger, Earth Balance Butter, and Candied Sweet Potatoes (gluten free) with Crunchy Pecan Pumpkin Seed Topping.
Side dishes can be fun. Our menu in this area offers Mac ‘n Cheese, a favorite of kids for sure, as well as Haricot Vert (French green beans) (gluten free and vegan) with Sauteed Leeks and Roasted Carrots, and Roasted Brussel Sprouts (gluten free) with Candied Balsamic Walnuts and Crispy Bacon.
And before the feast there are options for appetizers, like a Mini Baked Brie (vegetarian) with Caramelized Apples, Pears, Cranberries and Candied Walnuts, Wrapped in Puff Pastry and Baked until Golden Brown, Served with Crackers and Flatbreads, or Roasted Butternut Feta Tartlettes (vegetarian) with Puff Pastry, Caramelized Onions and Spiced Pepitas. Our Thanksgiving Bountiful Salad (vegetarian and gluten free) blends Artisan Lettuce with Roasted Pear, Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Dried Cherries, Toasted Almonds, Shaved Manchego, Apple Cider Vinaigrette.
Don’t forget about dessert! There’s pumpkin pie, of course. An estimated 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten each year on that last Thursday of November, according to one online source. (That piece also shares some other Thanksgiving trivia.)
Not all your Thanksgiving cooking needs to be done on the day itself. There are things you can before the celebration. I make a roux for the gravy and freeze it. I will also cube up bread for the stuffing and keep it in the refrigerator. You can also peel potatoes ahead of time and keep them in water so they don’t brown. Mashed potatoes are a lot of work in their own right, so the peeling and cutting gives you a jump on the process. Pie dough can be made ahead, and frozen. And you can always make stock for soup in advance. Since I love making soups there are two options on our Thanksgiving menu: Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and Crispy Leeks (gluten free), and Autumn Wild Rice and Vegetable Soup with Sweet Potato, Carrot, Kale, Brown Bella Mushroom, White Beans and Crispy Leeks (gluten free and vegetarian).
I actually get a whole turkey before Thanksgiving, roast it, and freeze the drippings for gravy. Then I use all the bones to make stock, and use the meat for turkey sandwiches.
And what about our family Thanksgiving? We actually celebrate two Thanksgivings. We visit good friends on the day itself, taking a break after all that cooking. Our kids need a bit of a rest as they help matching the food to the order forms. After the brief rest, we have a big family Thanksgiving with our relatives.
At the end of Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for the bounty of food, and for the blessing of being able to create that culinary feast for others. Happy Thanksgiving!
For more information on our Thanksgiving menu, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.