Thanksgivukkah Planning, Execution, and the After-Party
With Thanksgiving/Hanukkah just a few days away, we thought it might be useful to give you some recipe ideas, links to even MORE recipes and roundups, along with some tips and tricks to make this one of your best holidays yet…oh and some thoughts on what to do with leftovers!
Knowing many of you, we’re pretty sure you’ve planned out your holiday meal extraordinaire down to hand-crafted name cards whittled out of white oak and lavish tablescapes that would make Martha so very proud…or perhaps you’ve focused on what Paleo-ish drinks you’ll be serving because that’s your schtick. Right-on! Or, like in our case, maybe you’re an invited guest, and you’ve carefully plotted out what side dish or dessert you’ll be bringing to keep you on track with your grain-free living.
While the main event on Thursday is sure to be some gastronomical extravaganza that will no doubt bring many a guest into a food coma, you can’t exactly intermittently fast for days leading up to the turkey without eating something else! Our advice? Whip up a frittata or two to have on hand for breakfasts. If you’re the host of Thanksgivukkah, you might not want to cook a thing for a day or two post mortem. Having something like a jumbo frittata on hand will ensure that you have something non-turkey to enjoy. And, on the off chance that you don’t get around to eating it, know that it freezes great too! If you’ve never made a frittata (egg casserole), it’s so super easy! Basically decide what all you want in your egg casserole (broccoli? Spinach? Sausage? Ground beef? Bacon? Tomatoes? Onions? You get the idea). We suggest sautéing the ingredients you’ll be adding to the eggs first. We particularly like making a “meat crust” and placing some browned ground beef or cooked pulled pork at the bottom of an 11×13 baking pan, topping with veggies, then pouring about a dozen whisked eggs over the whole thing. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the eggs are no longer runny.
Need some nibbles to have on hand as snacks pre-dinner? How about some deviled eggs? Spiced nuts? Any of the non-hummus versions of hummus (we particularly like our roasted butternut squash dip!)? Perhaps some almond flour crackers? Or maybe it’s just a big vat of guacamole to have on hand. Little snacks like these are always great to have on hand. Just leaf through any of your Paleo or other cookbooks for inspiration or do a google search for whatever snacks tickle your fancy, and get cooking!
If you are in fact making a big bird for the big day, and you aren’t going with something like our dry-brine recipe (that you likely should have started yesterday, though theoretically you could start today), this might mean that YOUR TURKEY IS STILL FROZEN! No need to sound the alarm – just know that you will want to start thawing out the bird sooner rather than later. Even if you don’t heed this warning until Wednesday or even really early Thursday morning, you can (and should) use the cold water method to thaw it out in several hours (if you have a 20 pound bird, you need at least 10 hours to thaw using this method. You have been warned)!
Finally, plan your work, work your plan. We LOVED this planning guide from Zenbelly Catering for your Thanksgiving and Hanukkah celebrations (with links to her recipes!). If you are hosting guests for the festivities, have all your menu planned out and plotted out. Know what you’re making and when you need to put it in the oven. The good news about Thanksgivukkah is that quite a few typical menu items can be made in advance. Use Wednesday to tackle some of the things you know you can make ahead of time then just reheat on the big day. Some items that you might wish to cook ahead of time:
– Any of your desserts
– Mashed anything (sweet potatoes, parsnips, cauliflower, etc.)
– Cranberry sauce
– You can do the slicing/dicing/chopping of every single vegetable you might be eating or using the next day, and have those ready to go
If you’re still stumped on recipes, and have no idea what to make, then we submit to you the following round ups:
Nom Nom Paleo’s Forky Friday (20 of her recipes included, and then a bunch of links to other fabulous resources)
Sarah Fragoso’s 2013 Thanksgiving menu (6 recipes included)
Simply Paleo’s Recipe Roundup (35 recipes broken down into 4 themed menus)
PrimalPal’s roundup (53 Thanksgiving recipes)
Not to mention the treasure trove that is Chowstalker (Stalkerville)
Of course there are other holiday guides, books, menus and more all over the internet. Use its powers for good to find the perfect dish for your gathering!
No one wants the turkey to be overcooked, the stuffing/dressing cold, or your mashed sweet potatoes to have lumps of uncooked potatoes. The good news is that hopefully you prepped as many of your side dishes ahead of time as possible. Or if you’re a guest, you are now sitting back and relaxing, perhaps offering to help the host or hostess with anything they might need (like pouring them a glass of wine).
Now comes the fun part – if in fact you’ve cooked the big bird, and you’re now prepared to serve it, you might be a little anxious as to “how exactly do I hack carve this bird to present it to my guests?” There seem to be two schools of thought here: the carve it at the table, and the carve it in the kitchen. We’re fans of the carving in the kitchen, as it seems to be way easier to serve people from a big platter of already sliced meats. I remember my grandpa used to “carve to order” and invariably it meant that his meal was getting cold while slicing up extra servings for those around the table. Whatever the case, here’s a little pictorial display that will give you some insights as to what most recommend your approach should be (especially if carving in the kitchen):
Need more of a tutorial? Try this video from the folks at Fine Cooking.
You came, you saw, you conquered much of that 20 pound bird, but now you have some leftovers that can get really boring if left to their original form. Aside from making a big old vat of turkey stock (you did save the carcass, right?), here we give you all kinds of leftover ideas. Essentially, any time a recipe calls for chicken, just use turkey and voila – the many faces of turkey!
Turkey shepherd’s pie (try our farmer’s pie recipe, or our Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie recipe in our new book)
Turkey hash (sauté some turkey with some sweet potatoes and onions)
Turkey salad (mayo-based or otherwise – here are 17 recipes that don’t use mayo)
Turkey cobb salad
Turkey pot pie
Turkey broccoli casserole
Or try this leftover sandwich from Stupid Easy Paleo!
Mark Sisson gives us some leftover turkey ideas here, and there are so many other (non-Paleo) sites that provide great ideas on how to repurpose those leftovers. Growing up, my brother never ate the mashed potatoes, but wolfed down the crispy potato pancakes my mom would make after the fact. We might have to do that with some sweet potatoes this year!
Whatever you celebrate, wherever you are, we wish you all safe, healthy, tasty and happy holidays with those you love.