GIVING THANKS : No fasting on this day of feasts: Thanksgiving is one time of year when many Americans happily overeat on a golden brown turkey and plenty of fattening side dishes
Turkey With Double
Corn Dressing Cranberry Sauce Perfection Salad Waldorf Salad Succotash Green Beans Amandine Acorn Squash Orangey Sweet Potatoes and Marshmallows Cloud Nine PotatoesParker House Rolls Mincemeat Tarts Pumpkin Pie in Pecan Crust Coffee or Tea
Forget the foie gras. Skip the broiled lobster. Next Thursday is turkey day; a day devoted to a large golden bird stuffed with a well-seasoned dressing and surrounded by more side dishes than one customarily sees in a week. It’s the day the average American gorges, at a single meal, on a plethora of rich, fattening foods that are assiduously avoided nowadays in our everyday life.
Thanksgiving is a true feast day. And, for most of us, the holiday menu is as predictable as our propensity to overeat. As every schoolchild knows, it is the day we celebrate the first successful harvest by the Pilgrims, who wisely acknowledged their success by inviting the local Indians to join them in a Thanksgiving fete. Since their Indian guests supplied a large part of that original meal (plus a large part of the know-how that made the Pilgrims’ harvest a productive one), that turned out to be a very astute move by our predecessors.
Although that first harvest feast was followed by many more on an informal basis, it was not until 1863 that Abraham Lincoln officially proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
Lincoln didn’t name the turkey as the official entree of the day’s feast, but he might as well have, for several centuries of tradition have now established the ungainly bird as the center of attraction at a Thanksgiving dinner.
But what about the West? Is the type of traditional Thanksgiving dinner that has evolved today something that might have been enjoyed by early settlers in this part of the country?
Well, yes and no. Certainly the foods that dominate a Thanksgiving menu were available.
But it’s unlikely, for example, that Father Junipero Serra celebrated the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving per se at the famous old Mission San Juan Capistrano in Southern California. It is, however, quite likely that he and his fellow friars held other celebration feasts at the mission with many of the same foods present at the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving.
Besides converting the local Juaneno Indians to Christianity, the Franciscan friars spent a great deal of time teaching them how to farm and raise livestock. Turkey, corn, beans and other vegetables, wheat flour, fruits (but no cranberries) were easily come by. And that may be why our suggested 1985 Thanksgiving menu looked so at home on the rough-hewn table amid the adobe walls of one of the padre’s rooms when photographed at the mission.
Thanksgiving is the one time of year when even ardent diet watchers tend to skip normal eating patterns. The celebration meal, usually one containing absolutely no surprises, leans toward opulence. Instead of the usual one vegetable side dish, there will be three or four. Several salads and two or three kinds of desserts are the order of the day.
There’s a quiet excitement that builds as the aromas of the feast begin to permeate the house, and by dinner time everyone is ready to relish much too much food. It’s almost obligatory to overeat on Thanksgiving. (As well as on the day after, when the first batch of leftovers is consumed with as much fervor as the original meal.)
Celebrating Thanksgiving with traditional foods is, in a way, a comforting trip to a happy past. And when we share our celebration with family and friends--or strangers--so much the better. That really is what the day is all about.
For those who lack old family recipes, or would like to try some new variations on an old theme, the following recipes will provide a feast worthy of establishing a few new traditions for the generations to come.
1 medium turkey, about 15 pounds
2 large cloves garlic, slightly crushed, optional
Double Corn Dressing
Butter or margarine, melted
Sugar-coated grapes for garnish, optional
Peeled whole oranges for garnish, optional
Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Cook neck and giblets in water to cover to make broth for gravy, if desired. Rinse turkey and pat dry. Rub salt, pepper and garlic into neck and body cavities and onto skin surface.
Lightly spoon some Double Corn Dressing into neck cavity, then skewer neck skin to back. Stuff body cavity with remaining dressing and secure drumsticks lightly with string. Twist wings akimbo under turkey, if desired. Otherwise, secure to body with wood picks.
Place turkey, breast up, on rack in roasting pan. Brush with melted butter. Insert meat thermometer into thick part of thigh. Point should not touch bone.
Roast at 325 degrees until meat thermometer registers 175 degrees or until thick part of drumstick feels tender when pressed with thumb and forefinger, or until drumstick and thigh move easily. Remove turkey from roasting pan. Place on serving platter and garnish with sugared grapes and peeled whole oranges or as desired. Makes about 12 servings.
Double Corn Dressing
6 cups baked, cooled and crumbled corn bread
6 cups day-old bread cubes
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon basil, crushed
1 teaspoon thyme, crushed
1 (12-ounce) can Mexican corn
Turkey or chicken broth
2 eggs, beaten
Combine crumbled corn bread with bread cubes in large bowl. Saute onion and garlic in butter in medium skillet. Add basil, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour over bread, tossing to mix well.
Drain corn, reserving liquid. Add corn to bread mixture. Add enough broth to reserved corn liquid to make 2 cups. Add to bread mixture with beaten eggs.
Note: If a more moist dressing is desired, add additional broth.
For a helpful chart on preparing turkey, please see Page 26.
1 pound cranberries
1 unpeeled orange, quartered
1 unpeeled red apple, quartered
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
Put cranberries, orange and apple through meat grinder using coarse blade. Combine with sugar and liqueur. Chill several hours or overnight to blend flavors. Makes about 8 servings.
2 cups boiling water
2 (3-ounce) packages lemon gelatin
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 green pepper, cut in thin julienne strips
1 sweet red pepper, cut in thin julienne strips
Stir boiling water into gelatin until completely dissolved. Stir in vinegar, seasoned salt, celery seeds and garlic. Stir in cold water. Chill until slightly thickened. Stir in cabbage, carrots, celery and green and red peppers. Pour into 7-cup mold. Chill until set. Unmold and garnish as desired. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
3 cups seedless or halved and seeded grapes
4 cups diced unpeeled red apples
3 cups diced celery
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar or to taste
Additional grapes and pomegranate seeds, optional
Combine grapes, apples, celery and walnuts. Combine whipped cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice and sugar. Mix well. Fold dressing into salad. Chill well. Serve in lettuce-lined bowl. Garnish with additional grapes and pomegranate seeds. Makes 12 to 15 servings.
3 (10-ounce) packages frozen corn and lima beans
2 slices bacon, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 (4-ounce) jar pimiento pieces, drained and chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine
Cook corn and lima beans according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Saute bacon in large saucepan until crisp. Drain and reserve bacon pieces. Add onion to drippings and saute until tender. Add green pepper and saute lightly. Stir in drained corn and lima beans and pimientos. Add butter and melt. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat until heated through, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with reserved bacon. Makes 8 to 12 servings.
GREEN BEANS AMANDINE
2 pounds green beans, slivered or cut up
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Drop green beans in boiling salted water and cook just until bright green. Drain.
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add almonds and stir-fry until lightly browned. Add lemon juice. Pour over hot beans and serve. Makes about 8 servings.
ORANGEY SWEET POTATOES
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
3 (29-ounce) cans cut sweet potatoes in syrup, drained
2 cups tiny marshmallows
Melt butter. Add brown sugar, salt and orange juice. Place sweet potatoes in large, heavy casserole. Pour syrup over potatoes. Mix gently to coat potatoes. Bake at 375 degrees 30 to 40 minutes or until glazed. Occasionally spoon glaze over potatoes during baking. Remove from oven.
Sprinkle top with marshmallows and continue baking about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish with orange slices. Makes about 12 to 15 servings.
CLOUD NINE POTATOES
12 medium potatoes
2/3 cup hot milk or half and half
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup gin
2 egg whites
Finely grated lemon peel
Cook and drain potatoes. Shake over low heat to dry. Peel potatoes (or peel before cooking). Put through ricer and beat in hot milk and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in gin.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold egg whites into potato mixture and turn into large oven-proof bowl. Bake at 375 degrees 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with lemon peel and parsley. Makes 8 servings.
Pastry for 2 (9-inch) pie crusts
2 (28-ounce) jars mincemeat
1/4 to 1/2 cup rum or brandy
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts, optional
Prepare pastry. Divide pastry into 2 equal parts. Roll each into 13-inch circle. Cut each circle into 6 (4 1/2-inch) rounds. Fit rounds into greased tart pans or muffin pans. Pierce all over with fork to prevent puffing. Place on baking sheets and bake at 475 degrees about 5 minutes.
Combine mincemeat, rum and nuts. Fill tart shells with mincemeat filling. Bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes. Makes 12 servings.
PUMPKIN PIE IN PECAN CRUST
1 (16-ounce) can pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (13-ounce) can evaporated milk or 1 1/2 cups half and half
Sweetened whipped cream
Beat eggs lightly in bowl. Stir in pumpkin, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and evaporated milk. Pour into Pecan Crust. Bake at 425 degrees 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake additional 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center of pie comes out clean. Cool. Garnish top with whipped cream. Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.
3/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
Grind pecans. Combine with flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press firmly into 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes.