September 22, 2018

Thanksgiving by mom, updated

The Thanksgiving holiday is the perfect time to invite family and friends to celebrate an American tradition with a home-cooked feast. The essential elements are turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and yams. And, of course, everyone looks forward to several delicious desserts.

My mother was very proud of her very special veggie stuffing and used it for chicken as well as turkey. She mixed everything together and placed it in the bird uncooked, but I have found that cooking the stuffing first blends the flavors together better. I’ve also added my own flourish — plumped raisins that give it a nice, sweet taste that is especially festive. 

This year, I am adding some new dishes to the meal, and you can, too, combining tradition with creative new recipes. 

My family loves rhubarb, so this year we’ll include the tangy, sweet and vibrantly colored fruit, serving it alongside the traditional cranberry sauce. Don’t forget to include some Honey Glazed Yams to round out your menu.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie is the traditional pie for our family Thanksgiving dinner. I always served it when the children were small, because although pumpkin was never their favorite, this dish is especially light in flavor and texture — and absolutely delicious after a big dinner.

TURKEY IN A BAG WITH VEGETABLE STUFFING

(From “The Gourmet Jewish Cook,” by Judy Zeidler)

  • Mom’s Vegetable Stuffing (recipe follows)
  • 1 turkey (15 to 20 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup safflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepare Mom’s Vegetable Stuffing; set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Clean the turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Spoon cooled stuffing into both cavities and close with a needle and thread or skewers. Rub outside of turkey with oil and preserves; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grease the inside (seamless unprinted side) of a large paper bag, or use a large plastic baking bag. Place turkey, neck first and breast down, inside the bag. For a paper bag, fold down the top and seal it with paper clips or staples. If using a plastic baking bag, tie with plastic ties supplied in the package. Place turkey on large rack over a roasting pan lined with heavy-duty foil. Bake according to the following guide, about 20 minutes per pound:

10 to 12 pounds = 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours

14 to 16 pounds = 5 to 6 hours

18 to 20 pounds = 6 to 7 1/2 hours

About 30 minutes before the turkey is done, make a slit in the bag under the turkey and let the liquid drain into a saucepan. When all the juices are poured off, remove bag. Return turkey to oven to brown for remaining cooking time. Skim fat that forms from juices, discard fat, and heat juices. Remove stuffing and transfer to a heated bowl. Carve turkey and arrange slices, legs and wings on a large platter. Serve heated juices in a gravy boat.

Makes 15 to 20 servings.

MOM’S VEGETABLE STUFFING

  • 1/4 cup safflower or vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and grated
  • 2 large zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, plumped and drained
  • 8 mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons oatmeal
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil; sauté onions and garlic until transparent. Add celery, carrots, parsnip and zucchini; toss well. Sauté for 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Add parsley, raisins and mushrooms; mix thoroughly. Simmer for 5 minutes. Blend in 1 tablespoon each of the oatmeal, flour and breadcrumbs. Add wine; mix well. Add remaining oatmeal, flour and breadcrumbs, a little at a time, until stuffing is moist and soft, yet firm in texture. Season with salt and pepper. 

Makes about 4 to 5 cups.

HONEY-GLAZED YAMS

  • 2 1/2 pounds yams or sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted margarine or olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Arrange yams in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish. In a small saucepan, combine margarine, honey and lemon juice; cook over medium heat, stirring, until margarine has melted. Pour mixture over sweet potatoes; toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until tender when pierced with fork, stirring and turning occasionally, about 45 minutes. 

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

RHUBARB PRESERVES

  • 3 to 4 rhubarb stalks, ends trimmed, cut in 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel

Place rhubarb in a medium pot; pour sugar over. Let rhubarb absorb the sugar for 30 minutes. Add cranberry juice and orange peel. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until rhubarb is soft. Cool and transfer to a bowl. 

Makes about 3 cups.

PUMPKIN CHIFFON PIE

  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin (canned or fresh; if canned, use 100% pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (kosher)
  • 1/4 cup cold water 
  • 1 (9-inch) baked deep-dish pie crust
  • Nondairy whipped topping

In the top of a double boiler, over simmering water, combine pumpkin, egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; beat well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Dissolve gelatin in cold water and let stand for 5 minutes. Blend into pumpkin mixture, remove from double boiler; let cool.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar; beat until stiff. Fold pumpkin mixture into beaten egg whites until combined. Pour into prepared crust; chill in refrigerator until set, 3 to 4 hours. Garnish with non-dairy whipped topping.

NOTE: For those preferring not to consume raw egg whites, Eggbeaters 100% Egg Whites may be substituted.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Judy Zeidler is a food consultant, cooking teacher and author of “Italy Cooks” (Mostarda Press, 2011). Her website is judyzeidler.com.