(Nov. 20, 2020) Thanksgiving is one of the most popular holidays of the year.
Chefs labor for hours to finalize their menus, homemakers spend sleepless nights as they prepare the notorious spread, and the perfect host makes sure no one will spend Thanksgiving Day alone.
We as a society are prone to habit and one must be aware when change is in the air. Reality in itself is a digestible condition, the difficulty arises in actually accepting it.
The coronavirus numbers are rising, but panic should not permeate your daily routine. That being said, one should not feel insulted if your invitation is respectfully declined.
Needless to say, the virus affected the crowds that would have normally flocked to the Eastern Shore.
This past summer was challenging for business owners and workers alike. As we head into the winter, unfortunately the numbers of those being laid off will be on the rise.
As a result, Thanksgiving may not be the customary celebration with all the trimmings. We are all cutting back in many different ways and tradition may have to be put on hold for another year.
Just remember, a memorable meal is not about the size of your celebration or the amount of people at your table.
Cherished moments are about fellowship with loved ones and the deliciousness of every dish. And with that thought in mind, we will go over a few tips to ensure a fantastic feast.
There are two secrets to a juicy, mouthwatering turkey.
Always brine your turkey before cooking it. One quart of water to one-eighth cup of salt is all it takes to bring out the natural juices. I brine my turkey for two days and change the brine after 24 hours.
Believe it or not, but soy sauce is the best kept secret for a flawless turkey. The soy sauce acts as a natural dye when it comes in contact with the heat. The high sodium also reacts with the heat and helps seal in the natural juices.
Simply brush one coat of soy sauce over the entire bird and season according to your favorite recipe. The dark brown turkey will wow your family and guests and there is no hint of soy sauce at all. Everyone who has tried this step is a true believer.
I have applied soy sauce to a chicken and it tasted like chicken and soy sauce. The bird has to be at least 13 pounds so the flavor of the soy sauce does not come through.
What would Thanksgiving be without mashed potatoes? A ricer is a must and can be ordered online. It breaks down the texture of the potato to a perfect consistency.
Milk and butter are standard additions when preparing mashed potatoes. The addition of sour cream gives the mashed potatoes better structure.
Finally, do not be stingy with the sodium, potatoes need a lot of salt.
Semi-homemade and semi store-bought can come in hand during busy and stressful times.
Jarred gravy that has been simmered with onions and garlic and fortified with homemade chicken stock is tasty. Using a hand-held emulsifier, blend the ingredients. Make a slurry to thicken the mixture, add the drippings from the cooked turkey and you have a decadent gravy.
Who does not love stuffing? Homemade chicken stock will add such a great flavor to the starchy delight.
Instead of stuffing your turkey or baking a batch in a casserole dish, consider stuffing muffins.
Using an ice cream scoop, fill a muffin pan with individual portions. Every stuffing muffin has the perfect ratio of a crunchy exterior to a soft center.
Sauteed greens has always been a favorite in our family. Make sure you remove the thick vein in the center; otherwise, it will take forever for the vein to become tender.
Bacon drippings and a smoked ham hock are preferred for deeper flavor.
When purchasing bacon, check out the weight. Bacon basically comes in 12- and 16-ounces packs, so a sale on a 12-ounce package may not be such a great deal.
I find a combination of greens produces a more interesting presentation.
Collards, kale and turnip greens are all very tasty. I would suggest you cook each green separately since the cooking time differs for each one.
Garnishing your greens with crumbled bacon gives the greens more depth of flavor and a contrast of texture. A sprinkle of lemon zest brightens the richness of the greens.
It is hard to believe Thanksgiving is here. There is no question 2020 has been a difficult year, but we still have so much to be thankful for.
I wish all of you and your families a blessed and safe Thanksgiving.
1 large bunch collard greens
1 large bunch kale
1 large bunch turnip greens
6 tablespoons bacon drippings
4 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 smoked ham hock
2 tablespoons minced garlic in a jar
few pinches dried crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt to taste
lemon zest for a garnish
chopped crispy bacon as a garnish
1. Remove the tough veins in the collard greens, cut into smaller pieces and place in a large bowl filled with cold water. Rinse several times and set aside.
2. Repeat this process for the kale and turnip greens.
3. In a large Dutch oven or pressure cooker, combine collard green, bacon drippings, chicken broth, vinegar, ham hock, garlic, pepper flakes and salt.
Cook with the lid on until very tender. Remove greens, not the broth, and place in a large bowl, and set aside.
4. Repeat this process for the kale and turnip greens. Place the cooked greens in the same large bowl.
5. Mix the greens so they are evenly distributed and heat for serving.
6. Garnish with chopped bacon and a dash of lemon zest.
Secret Ingredient – Thankfulness. “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
– William Arthur Ward