Thanksgiving supper is one of those meals so loaded with traditions that introducing new recipes is highly risky. It greatly appeals to me that this North American holiday is embraced by people of different ethnicities and religions. The traditions are passed down and evolved from generations of family celebration. For better or for worse, my family has never been big on Thanksgiving since we *only* immigrated to Canada in the late 80’s. What it means is that I have free rein to create our own family tradition. In last decade, all the Thanksgiving dinners I hosted felt a bit like rehearsals. I was finding my way to define My Family Tradition.
This year, I was undecided about hosting a Thanksgiving dinner because of a previous catering engagement in the same weekend. The logistics of storing so much food in the fridge was enough to make my head spin. A marathon cooking long weekend did not seem particularly enticing especially when skating and hiking were also on the agenda. But the thought of continuing a fledging tradition convinced me otherwise. As I quickly planned my menu, I realized I too have a trove of much loved family recipes to draw from. A decade of trial and error does amount to something.
Every dish on the menu is tried and true recipe that Little Brother and I raved over the years except for one. In short, it is a capsule of our favourite things. Everything was made from scratch down to the reluctantly made turkey stock. I bought boxes of chicken stock but when it came time to trim the turkey, I realized all those bony parts needed to go somewhere. So I made turkey stock.
Why was the pie not made with pumpkin? Once again, I have cans of pumpkin puree in the pantry, at the ready. But then it took no effort at all to roast a kuri squash and puree it, skin and all, in the food processor. Of course I ended up using roasted kuri squash puree with its lovely hint of chestnut flavour.
The biggest unknown for this menu was the turkey. Since I was only cooking for two, there was little reason to roast a whole bird. In previous years, I often bought capons or turkey parts instead so we would not be left with ridiculous amount of leftover. This limitation opens up plenty of possibilities other Thanksgiving menu would not even consider. I took a leap of faith and tried the slow cooker turkey and gravy recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution. Unlike the dry heat of typical oven roasting, the turkey breast was braised in a slow cooker with aromatic turkey broth and white wine. The result was juicy pieces of white meat without the hassle of making sure thighs and breasts cook to perfection at the same time. The gravy was half way done when the bird was ready and took away the stress of last minute cooking.
As for marshmallows? I save them all for hot chocolate. They have no place in my family’s Thanksgiving tradition.
More on Thanksgiving at Dessert By Candy:
- cutest dinner rolls ever
- turkey feast with all the trimmings but not eaten on Thanksgiving
- brunch menu using leftovers
- what I cooked way back when I was young and foolish
- still one of my favourite apple pies
- my family’s favourite ginger not-pumpkin pie
- my family’s favourite cranberry sauce
- how we like our stuffing
- an unusual turkey sandwich
- what to serve to the kiddies