Here are 5 tried and true tips for any cook undertaking the task of a Thanksgiving feast. Whether you’re preparing for a small gathering of 6 or an enormous table of 30, these tricks will not only save you time but sanity during the hectic holidays! You’ll thank us later.
From Yours Truly,
The Rooted Pear Team
Create your own Cranberry Compote - There’s nothing more dated and underwhelming than the tradition of plating sliced cranberry gelatin from a can and calling it a sauce. We’re rethinking this whole accoutrement! Here’s a Rooted Pear trick- take cranberry sauce to the next level by cooking down some fresh cranberries, add in some sweetness with a healthy handful of raisins, reduce the mixture to a compote consistency, and serve it up in true sauce form. This alternative not only gives texture and color to your Thanksgiving spread, but it’s delicious.
Kick up that Stuffing – The stuffing is such a heart-warming tradition for a Thanksgiving table – oftentimes even upstaging the turkey itself! Whether you prefer your stuffing sweet, savory, spicy, or zesty, the main component that a true holiday stuffing has is bread. You don’t want to skimp on such an important and flavor-packed element, so be sure to have a good selection on hand. Skip the white bread, and opt for a delicious home-made challah that will serve as a perfect backdrop for the other flavors in your dish. Don’t have the time for that? Opt for an asiago cheese loaf; or a delicious, airy bread. Or substitute with cornbread to really bring in those holiday flavors.
Make a killer Centerpiece with what you have in the kitchen – So you’ve spent all day (if not more!) in the kitchen already, and just the thought of taking on the décor is overwhelming. Rather than spending a lot of money, or way too much precious time and effort away from actually enjoying your friends and family coming together, why not use what you already have in the kitchen after your cooking marathon? Rooted Pear suggests bringing a fresh flair to your table by using the trimmings from your side dishes. Have a few spare asparagus stalks? How about some parsley leaves from your garnish? Did you happen to use mint in your cranberry sauce? Or have you roasted up some fennel? Pick up some of those leftover pieces, tie a little twine around it, and voila! – a fresh, beautiful, personalized centerpiece that brings life to your table, and ties your cuisine into your decor.
Rendering Bacon Fat - An abundance of side dishes is typical of any Thanksgiving menu. However, the tricky part is to find balance when it comes to the richness of each dish. Wondering how to achieve this side dish harmony we speak of? Well one way RP incorporates decadence into our savory sides is by adding bacon fat. The rendered fat gives any dish a more complex flavor and body without the hassle of adding more ingredients. And if you want to take it another step further, consider using the bacon fat as an alternative component wherever butter or oil is called for.
Brine the turkey – Turkey is a symbol of Thanksgiving and more likely than not, is the focal point of your dinner. As such, it deserves a good amount of attention to make sure that all the flavors are just right. The way to truly make that turkey unforgettable is to start preparing it a day, or even more, in advance - depending on the size and weight of your turkey. Immersing the turkey in a brine will really make the meat juicy and flavorful. Keep the brine simple and pure with just water and salt, or kick it up a notch by throwing in some spices of your choosing.