Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thanksgiving: Traditions, Treats and Tricks

A celebration of gratitude spent with family or friends; gorging on delicious food and leisurely catching up on each other’s lives; what’s not to love about that? Traditionally celebrated in the US on the 4th Thursday of November, the Thanksgiving holiday has now surpassed its American roots and is observed globally.

One of the best aspects of such a gathering has to be the sheer variety and diverse flavours put together in a meal that has come to be synonymous with indulgence and culinary gratification. Universally associated with roasted turkey and cranberry sauce, a typical Thanksgiving spread will also trays of relishes or appetizers, cocktails, dinner rolls, stuffing, gravy, devilled eggs, mashed potatoes, salad, blanched veggies and ended with apple, pumpkin or pecan pie. However this day can also be a great opportunity to partake in culinary experimentation. Plan a weekend gathering of your closest family and friends, don an apron, create a memorable meal and raise a toast to the simple, beautiful joys of life.

An integral part of a classic Thanksgiving dinner is a whole, roasted turkey; deliciously moist, tender meat that looks stunning as it is carried to the table and a great cooking technique to attempt and perfect. So go ahead, head down to our store and pick up a whole turkey that’s available all through the festive season. Alternatively, a whole, stuffed and roasted chicken is also a wonderful dinner centre piece that will wow your guests.

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While the roast will be the focus of attention, whet your guests’ appetite by laying out an appetizer tray. Start simply with a cheese board, crackers, fruit or put together a slightly more elaborate platter of olives, pickled onions, baby carrots, stuffed mushrooms or celery sticks filled with goat’s cheese. This will give your guests something to nibble on while chatting with each other and waiting for the big meal.

If this is your first Thanksgiving gathering then a helpful tip to consider is to cut down on prep time and work as much as is possible. For instance, along with the whole bird, pick up peeled garlic, chopped veggies, dinner rolls, low-sodium stock for the soup or gravy, ready-to eat salad mixes that can be dressed up, tart shells to fill and serve as pie. All of these will surely make feeding your loved ones a memorable meal all the more simpler. Another helpful tip is to prep as much as is possible the day before, leaving you relaxed to be play the host.

Since the star attraction of the meal is the roast, plan side dishes that will complement it. Think of creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy Brussels sprouts, a spicy, sweet fig-cranberry relish to round off the flavours and textures of the meal. Or go uber simple with buttery brioche rolls and a generous green salad alongside a slice of perfectly cooked turkey or chicken. To end the Thanksgiving extravaganza serve up small, individual pumpkin pies.

An important tradition of the Thanksgiving meal is eating the leftovers the next day. Be sure to sandwich slices of meat between crusty sourdough bread slathered in relish for a hearty but festive lunch the next day. And as you savour it, remember again the joy of the little blessings in life.


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