Sunday, November 17, 2013

Food and Wine Tips for Thanksgiving

I, like most Americans, have food traditions for Thanksgiving. I always make my family's traditional sausage-and-onion stuffing (technically "dressing" since we never stuff the bird with it, but we've always called it "stuffing"). I don't think the recipe for this stuffing was ever written down--it's been handed down from my father's mother. Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without it, and woe to the host/ess of a family Thanksgiving celebration who makes it badly or [gasp!] attempts a different stuffing recipe.

I know all of the ingredients by heart, but can't give you the exact portions of each because I've never measured things like the amount of sage, chopped onion, etc. It's always been a matter of eyeballing it according to the amount of stuffing I need to make for the meal that year. So I think I shall try to document the recipe when I make stuffing this year, will share it in the future.

Today I shall share another recipe that I use to prepare our turkey. It's not actually my recipe, though.

My husband and I lived for a few years in Sonora, California. Sonora is north of Yosemite, in the Sierra Foothills. It is also the home of the Diestel Family Turkey Ranch. There is something incredibly satisfying about being able to pick up your Thanksgiving turkey directly from the ranch, especially when we're talking about free-range, organically raised turkeys. They are, by far, the best turkeys we've ever had.

To this day, if we can get our hands on a Diestel turkey for Thanksgiving, we get it. Luckily, Whole Foods Market carries Diestel turkey in Texas, so we drive down to the one in Plano to get one. If you want to see if there is a supplier near you, Diestel provides a finder.

The first time we picked up a turkey from the Diestel ranch, I also picked up one of their pamphlets that provided recommendations for cooking. Included on it was this recipe. Even when I haven't been able to get a Diestel turkey for Thanksgiving, I've used their recipe because it gives me a perfect turkey and perfect gravy, every time. Note that in their recipe for "Old Fashioned Turkey Gravy", they give an "optional" step of pouring a cup of hot white wine over the turkey half way through the roasting process. They really should include this as a mandatory step in the roasting process itself, because it is critical to the gravy. If you follow their instructions, including the wine, all you end up having to do at the end is separate the fat from the rest of the juices in the pan, then thicken it with a flour paste, and you have a wonderful gravy that needs absolutely nothing else added it.

Every good Thanksgiving dinner needs a good wine to go with it. Although you might think you need white wine to go with your white turkey meat, I beg to differ. We've found the best pairing with our Thanksgiving turkey is an Oregon Pinot Noir. If you pick up a Diestel turkey and want to keep with the organic, sustainable farming theme, I recommend a Pinot Noir from Sokol-Blosser.

Have a happy Turkey Day!

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