Clara Gluten Free

The (rather belated) Thanksgiving Post

It seems a little late to be talking about thanksgiving..since it already happened and now everything is in Holiday Mode, but here's what I did for my first (!!!) GF thanksgiving. But, before I dive in, it's worth noting that this is not your typical thanksgiving spread- we were travelling this year and so this was all done in a micro-sized kitchen. Hence, we went straight for the important stuff: the turkey, the cranberry sauce, and the potatoes au gratin (always been the traditional thanksgiving food around here). Also- to give credit where credit is due, my dad made the potatoes, my sister made the asperagus, my mom made sure it all onto the table, and my brother cleaned up the dishes. And we bought the desserts from Sweet Freedom Bakery. I know- the real score was being able to buy desserts. And not get sick! Something to be quite thankful for. Anyway. How I did GF Thanksgiving:

I got a Kosher turkey, and roasted it following this Cook's Illustrated recipe (login required- sorry!). You don't need to brine a Kosher turkey, because it's already salted. The salt breaks down the connective tissue in the meat, so it's good- up to a point. Too much salt (meaning brine + Kosher) gets a inedibley salty turkey that dissolves. And how I know this: that story is one of our Thanksgiving horror stories. No, I wasn't cooking. Anyway- here is the turkey I made. It was Kosher Valley brand- be sure to check your turkey brand for being GF!-

And then the Thanksgiving buffet table: 

That would be all the sides (Potatoes au gratin, roast carrots, turkey, cranberry-ginger-orange sauce, caramelized onions, gravy and roast asparagus). 

So- my thoughts on GF Thanksgiving (then recipes! I promise!). Well, the obvious thing was that I minimized all wheat/barley/rye/oat-related items. Which actually took a load off when it came to planning. Also, took a load off since there was none of that "MY OVEN IS OUT OF SPACE!" moment that always happens about 1 hour before dinner is supposed to happen. Going bread-less: definitely a good idea for the first big GF meal you have to cook up. I'm not sure if I'll stick to that plan for the next big meal/feast I cook- but that will probably depend if I get a bread recipe I like up and running. It will also depend on whether I get all my holiday cookies done (because they are obviously more important than bread for dinner).

And to segway back to Thanksgiving- here are more pictures and the recipes. I'm not posting a potatoes au gratin recipe...because ours, well, separated (cheese does that when it's heated too long- it curdles, and the liquid drains out- or into the bottom of your pan) nor am I posting a gravy recipe. I just followed the usual and used rice flour instead of wheat flour. I know. Big deal. Anyway: 

Roast Carrots + Roast Asparagus
*Note: since we only had one oven, these were done the same way, which was just roast them for a really long time. 

Carrots + Asparagus
Butter (2-3 tbs, depending on how many carrots)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

1- Heat the oven to 400 F (or whatever your turkey is at...). Wash, peel and chop the carrots into sticks. Put into a large bowl. Melt the butter, add salt and pepper to taste for the carrots, and pour on the carrots. Toss to coat. 

2- Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet or layer in a Pyrex pan. Cover with aluminum foil. Roast for about 45 min.

3- Meanwhile, wash the asparagus and chop off the ends. Lay in one layer on one or two cookie sheets, spending on the quantity of asparagus. Non-stick works best, but parchment lining will do. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roll the asparagus around to coat. Roast for about 1 1/2 hours.

4- After the carrots have roasted for about 45 min, take the aluminum foil off and roast for about 1 1/2 hours, or until done.

5- Check both veggies during cooking. If one side of the pan is darker than another, turn the pan. This happens because almost all ovens have hot and colds spots. When both veggies when they are as soft and as brown as you would like, remove them and serve warm. 

Cranberry Sauce

12 oz bag of cranberries (or more)
approx 1 1/2 cups orange juice
approx 1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Dried Ginger
Ginger Root + Crystallized Ginger: (optional)

1- Wash and pick over the cranberries. Place in a medium sauce pan and just cover with orange juice. Add the vanilla, salt and dried ginger to taste. Bring to a boil. 

2- Meanwhile, if you are using ginger root and/or crystallized ginger: peel the fresh ginger and dice it very fine; for the crystallized ginger, dice it as finely as you would like- larger chunks will have a stronger taste and give the sauce a stickier texture.

3- After 15 minutes or so, the cranberries should finish up popping and the liquid should begin to gel. Add the brown sugar, and ginger root/crystallized ginger. Continue to boil until Boil until the cranberry sauce is as thick as you like. The longer you boil, the more Jell-O-like it will become. For the concrete-strong cranberry sauce I make, I usually boil for 30 minutes or so. Remove from heat, add sugar, salt and ginger to taste. Garnish with crystallized ginger. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days and reheat in the microwave, on medium. 

Caramelized Onions
*Note: I made this recipe up when I couldn't bear to waste the onions I used to roast the turkey. So, I fished them out of the drippings when I was making gravy. Here goes:

Onions (it's ok if turkey drippings are on them)
Salt and Pepper

1- Heat a small sauce pan on high. Add the onions, cover and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir, and repeat until there's a light layer of golden fond on the pan and the onions are beginning to brown. At this point, deglaze the pan by swirling several tablespoons of water in the saucepan.

2- Allow most of the water to boil off. Cover, caramelize and deglaze again. Boil off the water, salt and pepper, and serve as a warm relish.

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