Thanksgiving is a really big deal at our house. I live a long way away from my side of the family, and my husband’s parents are British. Which means for the last eight years, my husband and I have hosted his parents and sometimes various other family members for a Thanksgiving feast. Now, I will be the first to admit that our first few attempts may have been subpar. I might not have realized that you were supposed to remove the neck, gizzards and whatever other gooey insides were shoved into the turkey. And that might have made the turkey taste totally weird. But over the last few years, my husband has become a much better cook, and I think last year’s meal was just about perfect.
This year, however, will be our first attempt at a G-Free Thanksgiving. I’m not too worried about it, though. We’ve had about eight months to experiment with a few things and I think we just might be able to put together a really good meal. Here’s how we are planning on turning our traditional thanksgiving meal into a G-Free feast:
1) The Turkey, Stuffing and Gravy: It goes without saying that you need to make sure the actual turkey is gluten free. Once that has been established, the turkey itself is really easy....you either brine it, or put some butter and herbs under the skin and bake the sucker. It’s the stuffing and gravy that need a few tweaks. For my stuffing, I usually get a loaf of country french bread, cut it into chunks and let it sit in the oven overnight to dry out. This year, I am going to use Udi’s instead because I think it is the closest approximation to real white bread. I’m then going to mix in sauteed onions, celery, turkey stock and a ton of fresh herbs. One side note....I definitely recommend making your own turkey stock to use in the stuffing and gravy. It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort, but it makes a huge difference in the flavor. For the gravy, I’m fortunate that my son can tolerate oat flour, which is a really nice thickening agent. It has a very silky feel. Mix a few tablespoons into the pan drippings from the turkey, and then add stock until it reaches the desired consistency. Potato flour (not starch) also works well, but watch out because a little goes a long way!
2) Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Carrots: No changes, these are all already gluten free!
3) Dinner Rolls: These are probably the trickiest part of the meal. We are either going to sub out cornbread muffins with honey butter (there’s a good cornbread recipe on the G-Free Foodie site), or maybe try the Easy G-Free Dinner Rolls.
4) Dessert: We are not a big pumpkin pie family. I love apple crisp, which is just sliced apples, cinnamon, sugar, lemon and a little water. The crumb topping is made out of flour, sugar and butter. There are quite a few suitable flours to sub in for the crumb topping. I personally like oat or almond flour, but you can use any of your favorite flour mixtures. I’m also thinking about making a pumpkin cheesecake using G-Free graham crackers to make the crust. A pumpkin cream cheese filling and sour cream topping should already be gluten free.
So, that’s my plan. You can see there aren’t a ton of changes that need to be made, but they are all on integral items. Let’s be honest here, no one’s favorite part of the meal is carrots or green beans. But I really think that little things like using all fresh herbs and making your own turkey stock (yes, I am going to continue my rant on that subject) elevate your meal from just good to really delicious. So even if I have to use gluten free bread for my stuffing, as long as its smothered in yummy turkey stock, butter and herbs....how bad can it really be? Personally, I am guessing the majority of our guests this year will not even notice the difference....more wine anyone? Just kidding....kind of. Happy Thanksgiving!