Add Some Herbs to Thanksgiving

How about a more spicy, more herby Thanksgiving? Oh, I know, it’s about tradition and everyone is cooking Turkey with Cranberries and Stuffing. And I am not about to change that. I just want to throw in some recipes that include various herbs. Not only for the great taste and diversity herbs add to the meal but also for the healthy aspects of doing this, too. Herbs have healing powers and if you haven’t been able to start taking supplements or to get the ones you love to do that, either, than adding herbs to the biggest, most popular meal of the year may get them interested in doing more of it.

I promise you that these will not turn your meal into an Arab or Asian repast. I promise you it will not taste like Italian Turkey. I am not going to tell you to add Garlic to the Cranberries. I promise you. What I want to do is spruce up the traditions a little with some of the herbs they probably added to the original meal, back in the day when they didn’t have grocery stores but spent a lot of time in their own gardens. So there’s your selling point. I added some herbs to the meal because that’s the way the pilgrims did it. Maybe the kids will learn something! So here they are… a few simple recipes to include everyday herbs in a delicious rendition of the Thanksgiving pigout.

GRAVIES AND SAUCES

The easiest place to bring herbs to the meal might be the sauces and gravies. This, of course, depends on how stolid your friends and family are about using bottled or canned gravies. If you have room to experiment, then try these:

Mushroom Sauce

This is a thick sauce that can double as a gravy

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped Mushrooms
1 1/4 cups Milk
grated Nutmeg
Salt
Pepper
3 Tbsp Butter
1/2 Garlic Clove
1 Tbsp Flour
2 Tsp finely chopped Parsley

Method:

Bruise and chop the Garlic Clove. Place a medium sized pot on the stove over medium heat. Simmer the Mushrooms, Milk, Nutmeg, Salt, Pepper and Parsley in this pot for about 10 minutes or so, keeping the pan covered. Melt the Butter in another pan and then add the Garlic and allow to stew for about a minute. Stir in the flour (with the Garlic and Butter) and allow to cook for a few minutes longer. Get a strainer and pour the Mushroom and Milk mixture through the strainer into the pot with the Garlic and Butter. Add the Milk slowly, stirring it in as you go. It should be thickening. DO NOT stop stirring as you add the Milk.

Once the Milk mixture is thickened, then you can add in the rest of the Mushroom mixture, which should be in the strainer. Taste with a spoon to see if it needs more seasoning. If so, add to taste. Leave on low heat until really thick, like gravy. Remove from heat to keep it from hardening up. This can be served with the Turkey, Potatoes, Rice, Ham or Biscuits.

NOTE: If you would like a richer, thicker sauce, subatitute Cream for the Milk.

Herb Sauce

This sauce is great on Chicken and Veal and is now getting popular with Turkey. If you are trying to avoid using gravies this year or you would like to experiment with natural sauces, this one is a knock out.

Ingredients:

4 fresh sprigs of Marjoram
4 fresh sprigs of Thyme
1 bunch of fresh Chervil
2 fresh sprigs of Tarragon
2 peeled Shallots
4 white Peppercorns
1 1/2 cups of Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
Lemon juice
Salt

Method:

Remove the stalks from the Chervil and set the leaves aside. Do the same with the Tarragon. Pound the Marjoram, Thume, Chervil stalks and Tarragon stalks with the Shallots and Peppercorns in a mortar. Put the Chicken stock into a pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the pounded herbs and simmer for 15 minutes on lower heat.

In another pan, melt the Butter. Once melted, stir in the Flour until it becomes a thick paste. Get a strainer and strain the Chicken Stock into the pot with the Butter and Flour. Stir continuously until the sauce is smooth and somewhat thick. Simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from the heat and add in the Tarragon and Chervil leaves you set aside. Pour in the Lemon Juice and Salt to taste. Test it as you go so you don’t add too much.

Put this in a gravy boat or sauce pot and leave on the table. It can be used with the Turkey or the vegetables, if served plain.

Bay Gravy

This is an interesting variation on Gravy, a mix that is often used with Steak in England. It is good with poultry, too.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Butter
1 medium Onion
1 Tbsp Mustard
2 Bay Leaves
1 Tbsp chopped Parsley
2/3 cup Chicken stock
Flour

Method:

Chop up the Onion into small squares. Melt the Butter in a pan and fry the Onion in it until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Toss in a few pieces of finely chopped Turkey and allow to simmer for a half an our on low heat. Sprinkle in a few pinches of Flour, one a time, stirring carefully as you go. Add just enough until the gravy is thick enough to spoon over the meal. DO NOT overdo the Flour. It is better as a thinner sauce.

VEGETABLES

If you are among those of us who always seem to lack imagination when it comes to the vegetables at Thanksgiving, then here are some interesting ideas! Not everyone loves Green Bean Casserole, myself being one of those. (Don’t tell my family!) Perhaps you are tired of always serving the same veggie item and would like to offer something different this year. Boy, do I have some recipes for you!

Stuffed Tomatoes with Rice and Corn

This great recipe takes advantage of various beloved vegetables and gives a colorul presentation to the table.

Ingredients:

8 Medium Tomatoes
1/3 cup Corn kernels
1 Tbsp white Wine
1/4 cup cooked Wild Rice
1 clove Garlic
1/2 cup grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh Coriander
Salt
Pepper
1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Method:

Cut the tops off the Tomatoes and remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Scoop out all the flesh and then chop it up really good. You should also chop the tops of the Tomatoes. Set aside the Tomatoes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Also warm a pan on the stove over medium heat. Put the chopped Tomatoes into the pan and add the Corn and white Wine. Cover with a close fitting lid and simmer until tender. Drain through a strainer.

Mix together all the remaining ingedients except the Olive Oil. Add the Salt and Pepper to your taste. Carefully spoon the mixture back into the empty Tomatoes. Pile it high in the center. Sprinkle the oil over the top of the stuffed Tomatoes.

Arrange the stuffed Tomatoes in a baking dish and bake in the oven (heated to 350F) for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

This recipe serves 4. Double up as needed.

Crusty Corn on the Cob

This is a tasty and fun variation on Corn on the Cob. Dad and the kids will love it!

Ingredients:

6 ripe Cobs of Corn
1 cup Butter
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves of Garlic
2 Tbsp ground Black Pepper

1 cup finely crumbled Whole Wheat Bread

1 Tbsp chopped Parsley

Method:

Peel and crush the Garlic. Put the Corn cobs into a pot full of water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste and boil the Corn until tender. Set it aside to allow it to cool. Turn on a tabletop grill or the broiler in the oven.

Melt the Butter over low heat in a pan. As it melts, add the Oil, Garlic and Black Pepper. The best Pepper is freshly ground in a mill. If you don’t have a mill, then use the coarse ground Pepper in the shaker. Locate a shallow dish or bowl and pour the Butter mixture into it. Locate another shallow dish and mix the Bread crumbs and Parsley in it. Roll the Corn cobs first in the melted Butter mixture and then in the bread crumbs.

Broil the cobs under the broiler or on a tabletop grill until crispy and browned. Garnish with some fresh Parsley and serve with melted Butter on the side.

This recipe serves 6. Double up as needed.

Stuffed Onions

These are absolutely delicious. I have wolfed them down myself so I know.

Ingredients:

4 large Onions
4 Tbsp cooked Rice
4 Tsp finely chopped fresh Parsley
a few Parsley sprigs
4 Tbsp grated strong Cheddar Cheese
Salt
Pepper
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp White Wine

Method:

Cut off the tops of each Onion and then scoop out the center with a spoon. Leave a fairly thick layer for the shell. Combine all the remaining ingredients except the Parsley sprigs and moisten with the Wine until blended but not wet.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Fill each Onion with enough of the mix to stuff. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Serve garnished with the fresh sprigs of Parsley.

This recipe serves 4. Double up as needed.

Mashed Potatoes with Onions

This would probably be good with the Mushroom sauce.

Ingredients:

2 lbs of Potatoes
1 large bunch of Scallions
1 1/4 cups of Milk or Cream
Salt
Pepper
1/4 cup of Butter

Method:

Chop the tops off the Scallions and discard the bulbs. Chop the tops into small pieces. Boil the Potatoes under water until tender.

While boiling the Potatoes, simmer the Scallion tops in a pot with the Milk with Salt and Pepper to taste. Drain the Potatoes but leave them in the pot. Shake the pot over low heat until the Potatoes are dry and fluffy. Shake the pot to keep the Potatoes from scorching.

Mash the Potatoes with a whisk or mixer. Add the Milk and Scallions to the Potatoes and mash until smooth. Pile the mix into 4 individual hot bowls or cups and push a pat of butter down into the center of the Potatoes.

This recipe serves 4. Double up as needed.

Savory French Bean & Tomato Salad

This is interesting and can be made in the Spring, as well. It serves as an alternative to Green Bean Casserole.

Ingredients:

1 lb String Beans
2 lb Tomatoes
3 Scallions
1 Tbsp Pine Nuts
4 sprigs fresh Savory
2 Tbsp EV Olive Oil
1 Lime
3 oz soft Bleu Cheese
1 clove Garlic
Salt
Pepper

Method:

Peel and crush the Garlic clove. Juice the Lime and store the liquid in a bowl. Cut, slice or tear the Scallions into small, ragged peices. Now, place the Oil, Lime juice, Bleu Cheese, Garlic Clove, Salt and Pepper in a food processor. Add enough Salt and Pepper to please your own palate. Blend these ingredients until all the cheese is finely chopped and it looks like a smooth dressing. Pour this mix into a pitcher and let stand.

Top and tail the beans and boil in salted water until cooked. Not too cooked, so they still snap. Drain them and then run cold water over them until they are completely cooled. Slice or quarter the Tomatoes. Toss the Beans and Tomatoes with the fresh Savory. Pour over with the Salad Dressing and garnish on top with the Pine Nuts.

This recipe serves 4. Double up as necessary.

WINTER SOUPS

For those of you who like to make soups and want to add soups to the Thanksgiving or Christmas meal this year, here are some awesome herbal winter soup recipes. Easy to make and lovely to eat.

Creamy Lovage Soup

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp Butter
1 chopped Garlic clove
1 handful chopped Parsley
2 chopped Celery stalks
grated Nutmeg
Salt
Pepper
1 bunch of chopped Lovage (leaves and stems)
2 slices Brown Bread
6 cups of Chicken, Vegetable or Turkey stock
2/3 cup heavy Cream

Method:

Melt the Butter in a pan over low heat. As it melts, add in the Garlic, Parsley and Celery, stirring slowly. Then toss in a pinch each of the Nutmeg, Salt and Pepper. After a few minutes of cooking, toss in the chopped Lovage.

Pour the stock into a bowl and soak the Brown Bread in it until wet, approx. 2 minutes. Squeeze out the liquid and then add the bread to the Lovage-Butter mix. Stir the mix very well.

Add the stock to a pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling stock into the Lovage mix very gradually and then allow it all to simmer for about 10 minutes.

After boiling for 10 minutes, pour it into a blender and blend well. After well blended, return the mix to the pot on the stove and reheat. As soon as reheated (not too hot), remove from heat and stir in the cream. Serve immediately or before cooling.

This recipe makes from 4 large to 6 smaller servings. Double up as needed.

Watercress with Orange Soup

This is a fancy salad that has a long tradition in upscale restaurants. I have seen it on the buffet at many a Christmas party over the years and just thought it might add a classy dimension to Thanksgiving. If you’re up to it, this dish adds exceptional taste to the meal. Some folk might even think of it as dessert!

Ingredients:

1/2 sliced Onion
1/2 clove Garlic
6 Tbsp Butter
2 bunches of Watercress
1 bunch of Parsley
2 Potatoes
2 1/2 cups Milk
2 1/2 cups Stock
1/2 Orange
Salt
Pepper
heavy Cream
Whipped Cream

Method:

Skin the Orange and juice it. Store the juice in a bowl. Keep some of the rind. Put the Potatoes into water over the stove and allow to boil. Boil until thoroughly cooked and soft. Set aside.

Gently cook the sliced Onion and Garlic clove in the Butter until soft. As the Onion softens, add the Watercress and Parsley. Continue cooking over a low heat for 5 more minutes.

Stir in the Potatoes, Milk, Stock and 1/2 tsp of grated Orange rind. Cover the mix and simmer the mix for 10 more minutes. Remove from the pot and place the mix in a blender or mixing bowl. Blend or beat to a puree. After whipped, add in the Salt, Pepper and about 2 tsp of the Orange juice. Be scanty with the Pepper and Orange juice. A little goes a long way.

Thicken with the cream before serving and then add whipped cream to the top of the soup in each bowl before serving.

This recipe serves 4. Double up as needed.

STUFFING

Hey, here are some great ideas for herbed stuffings. If you want to make your own or dress up the usual, these are easy and quick.

Tarragon Stuffing

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp chopped fresh Tarragon leaves
1/4 cup Butter
1 crushed Garlic clove
Lemon juice
Salt
Pepper

Method:

Beat all the ingredients together. Use only dashes of Lemon Juice, Salt and Pepper.

Recipe serves with a 4-6 lb Turkey. Double up as needed.

Celery Stuffing

Ingredients:

2 chopped Celery stalks
1 chopped Shallot
2 Tbsp Butter
chopped innards from the Turkey
1/2 cup fresh Bread crumbs
1 Tsp fresh Lemon Thyme
1 Tbsp chopped Celery leaves
1 Tbsp chopped Caraway leaves
1 beaten Egg
Salt
Pepper

Method:

Gently stew the Celery and Shallot in the Butter until tender. Add the Turkey innards and toss until browned. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.

Recipe will stuff a 4-6lb Turkey. Double up as needed.

Fennel Stuffing

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp chopped Fennel leaves
1/2 cup cooked Ham
2 Tbsp Butter
ground Black Pepper

Cut the cooked Ham into strips. Use Florence Fennel is you can get it and chop the Fennel into tiny pieces. Simply mix all the ingredients together and stuff the Turkey with them. Put a bundle of dried Fennel stalks under the Turkey before roasting.

Recipe stuffs a 4-6lb Turkey, double up as needed

Herbal Stuffing

This is a traditional stuffing used for Goose. It is just as good with Turkey.

Ingredients:

6 cups fresh Bread crumbs
1/2 cup ground cooked Ham
2 Eggs
1 ground Onion
2 cups finely chopped Celery
3 Tbsp finely chopped Herbs: Thyme, Parlsey, Marjoram and Sage
1 tsp chopped Mugwort tops
1 tsp grated Lemon rind
Salt
Pepper

If you don’t have a meat grinder, then ask the person in the deli to run the Ham through the meat grinder for you. They do this when they make Ham salad so they should be able to help. You can run the Onion through a Pepper grinder if you have one but if not, then run it through the food processor on fine. Also, Mugwort is probably not in your local grocery store so try the health food store or the herbalist. Somebody has it. Otherwise, you can order it online or just skip it altogether.

Just beat all these ingredients together and stuff the bird with them.

This recipe will stuff up a 8-10 lb Turkey. Double up as needed.

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2 Responses so far

  1. 1

    I like this site really much.

    This is such a great website.
    And it is not like other money directed site, the message here is truly useful.

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  2. 2

    Debbra said,

    I like the idea of making gravy/sauce with stock. I always have some in the freezer. Definitely like the suggestion of mixing things up.

    Recently I tried a butternut squash soup with sweet potato, apple, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, tarragon (and more), that was just a flavor explosion of awesomeness. I’m seriously considering making that for my contribution to this years dinner.

    Here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving tinged with a bit of surprise!


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