While this Thanksgiving may be smaller than years past, one thing hasn’t changed: home cooks want to serve a delicious turkey and elaborate side dishes.
Thanks to the pandemic, many of us have more time to experiment in the kitchen. In fact, it’s possible to create the best Thanksgiving table you’ve had in years. Below are some cooking tips, serving suggestions and new recipes from Longmont chefs and food-based small business owners.
If you’ve enjoyed these recipes, consider thanking the chefs and owners by patronizing them in the next few months. Most are offering an array of takeout options paired with curbside service.
Tips from The Roost, Smokin’ Bowls, and Jefes: Turkey and Biscuits
Sean Gafner, chef and owner of these three restaurants, shared his tips on cooking a turkey. To him, “it all comes down to breaking down the bird the day before. There is no other way to make an actually perfect, moist, brown, delicious turkey.”
Gafner suggests that cooks cut the turkey so it’s flat, a technique alternately called butterflying or spatchcocking, then season their turkey and put it in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to cook, he suggests roasting the pieces in a 350-degree convection oven for about 30 minutes (depending on the size of meat and oven discrepancies), then let it rest another 30 minutes before slicing. Check the temperature before removing.
If desired, he suggests you can remove the meat and reheat it later. “This way, you can roast the bones and let the turkey stock (broth) go all night. You’ll wake up to it smelling like a holiday, and then you’ve got delicious broth to make your gravy and stuffing with.”
Gafner also provided his recipe to make biscuits that are ideal for soaking up gravy or to use the next day for turkey sandwiches made with leftovers.
Colorado Beer Biscuits
6.5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1.5 tbsp table salt
1 cups shortening
2.5 cups light beer, or pilsner
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees convection fan low. Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until it has cornmeal consistency. Stir in beer and knead lightly (until barely mixed or it will become too glutinous). Drop biscuits onto a prepared sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Makes 25 biscuits.
Sasha’s Seasonings: Thanksgiving vegetables
The four-year-old Longmont company, Sasha’s Spices, offers a variety of spice blends that quickly and easily liven up vegetable dishes. Owner Sasha Stanger said spices can liven up holiday vegetables. He shared his recipes for making mashed potatoes and pan-roasted asparagus that use two of the company’s spice blends.
Rocky Mountain Spice mashed potatoes
4-6 large russet potatoes
3 teaspoons of butter
Milk to preference
Rocky Mountain Seasoning to preference
Directions: Scrub the potatoes and cut into pieces, leaving on the skins. Boil until tender and then drain liquid. Add butter and enough milk to make them to your desired creaminess. Add seasoning to taste. Serves 5-7 people.
Pan-roasted asparagus with lime pepper
1 large bunch of asparagus
2 tbsp butter
Lime pepper: To preference
Directions: Rinse the asparagus, cut off the tougher bottom portions of each stalk, and discard. Melt butter on a larger, wide stovetop pan and add asparagus. Cook until tender, browning stalks as you cook. Drain when finished and season to taste with lime pepper.
Martini’s Bistro: Savory smashed sweet potatoes
Chef T, head chef at Martini’s, regularly works to create new, fresh interpretations of traditional foods. She shared the recipe for one of the most indulgent holiday side dishes – sweet potatoes.
5 lbs. Japanese yams
1 lbs. unsalted butter
8 fresh thyme sprigs, kept whole
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced shallots
Directions: Peel, dice, and boil the yams in water until soft. While the yams are boiling, add the rest of the ingredients to a tall pot and put in a 350-degree oven until the butter is browned. Once butter is brown, remove the thyme, drain the yams, and add it to the yams. Mash the yams by hand or use a mixer to achieve your desired texture. Salt to taste.
Cheese Importers: Creating a cheese board for before your meal
Cheese plates are a nice option to enjoy in the hours before dinner while everything is cooking. Cheese Importers suggests that, in creating your cheeseboard, serve four types of cheeses: a soft cheese such as brie or chevre, a blue cheese, a semi-soft cheese, and an aged cheese like a 2-year cheddar or gouda.
Because it’s not possible to sample cheeses thanks to the pandemic, choosing from those categories is trickier than it was last year. Cheese Importers suggests that cooks read labels and read online reviews of cheeses they’re interested in.
Once cooks have made their selections, they should plan to serve about 2 oz of cheese for each guest. They may also want to add fruit, almonds, jams, or various types of crostini or flatbread to accent the board.