Monday, 7 November 2011

Thanksgiving and Turkey Recipes of 2011

Thanksgiving and Turkey Recipes of 2011
 It’s the time of the year again where families all around North-America reunite and celebrate together the autumn harvesting season with thanksgiving. If you’re receiving this year, it’s the perfect time to show your guests what the Paleo diet is all about and that healthy food is in fact also really tasty.The stars around thanksgiving are the meat and vegetables usually seen in North-America at this time of the year. Turkey, beef, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, cranberries, mushrooms and apples are all standard fare.

What I’ve decided to do here is create a complete menu including the main thanksgiving turkey with the sauce, stuffing and cranberry sauce as well as another main of juicy rib roast, appetizers, vegetable sides and even a classic dessert, the pumpkin pie. All this in Paleo fashion.

Of course, simple olive, fruit and cheese platters are also welcomed by everybody to snack on, but the recipes included here will produce enough food to fill even the hungriest.Some thanksgiving recipes are already perfectly Paleo, but yet some needed to be adapted somewhat. The cranberry sauce presented here is a tarter version than the traditional one, but I think it’s an even more interesting taste to contrast with the turkey and stuffing. The stuffing, for its part, is made out of lean ground beef instead of bread and is absolutely amazing and tasty. Be aware that some of your guests will probably want to steal your recipe. Finally, the pumpkin pie is made on a nut crust and is lightly sweetened with some honey instead of being a massive sugar vehicle.

I hope that you and your family will enjoy preparing and eating those delicious recipes and that your house will become the favorite place to have a thanksgiving dinner for the whole family.

The Turkey 

The turkey is the centerpiece of most thanksgiving dinners and is at the heart of this November tradition. The wild turkey being native to the North-American forests, I couldn’t think of a better animal to feast on to celebrate the local harvest.
Of course, now that Thanksgiving has been commercialized and some of its essence lost, so is the traditional turkey. Now turkeys are selected for larger and larger breasts for more and more white meat, probably because of our global fear of fat. This means, unless you source some heritage turkey or hunt wild turkey yourself, that you’ll have to pay more attention during the cooking process not to end with dry meat. You’ll want to make sure not to overcook it and to baste it really often. A kitchen syringe is also a good idea here, to inject some juices into the meat itself.

It goes without saying that getting a turkey that as been properly raised and fed is really important not only for the advantage in taste, but also the health benefits of a better fat ratio and fewer toxins. The difference is worth the price.

Mushroom butter roasted turkey

The little twist in this roast turkey recipe is in the use of dried wild mushrooms to create a delicious flavored butter that will help cook the turkey and also be an integral part of the final sauce to serve with the bird. The sauce is created with the cooking juice so it’s very simple to prepare without even thinking about it.


    * One 10-12 lb turkey;
    * Garlic powder;
    * Ground dried thyme;
    * Poultry mix or finely chopped fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, and marjoram;
    * 1/2 cup chicken stock;
    * 1/2 cup good quality and sugar-free BBQ sauce (can be homemade);

Wild mushroom butter

    * 1 1/4 cups dried wild mushrooms;
    * 1/4 lb room temperature butter or clarified butter;
    * 1 tbsp white wine;


   1. Preheat your oven to 450 F.
2. Grind the dried mushrooms in a coffee grinder to a powder.  Mix that powder in a bowl with the soft butter or ghee and add the whine and mix again.
3. Clean and pat dry your turkey. Remove the organs if still present in the cavity. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan.
4. Cut the skin at a few places on the bird and place some of the wild mushroom butter between the skin and the flesh with a small spoon or a kitchen syringe.
5. Season the bird generously with garlic powder, dried thyme, the fresh herbs or poultry mix and black pepper. Also add the rest of the mushroom butter on the surface of the turkey.
6. Place a loose sheet of aluminium paper on top of the turkey and put it in the oven.
7. Reduce the heat to 350 F immediately after putting the turkey in the oven. Cook for about 18 minutes per pound. 3 hours and a half in our case. Season with salt and pepper after 30 minutes of cooking.
8. Baste the bird about every 20 minutes to make sure the meat stays moist.
9. You can remove the aluminium paper an hour before the end of the cooking process to obtain a golden and crispy skin.
10. Remove the turkey from the oven when fully cooked and set the turkey aside, out from the roasting pan and covered with the sheet of aluminium paper.
11. Place the pan on the stove top on a medium heat and deglaze with the chicken stock. Add the BBQ sauce.
12. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.
13. Serve the sauce immediately with the turkey.

Cranberry sauce

Turkey is almost always served with a sugary cranberry sauce at thanksgiving, but this sauce doesn’t have to contain that much sugar to be delicious. Of course, cranberries on their own are very tart, but in this recipe a cup of orange juice is added for a nice orange test and to cut on the tartness. No extra sugar needed. As an added bonus, this sauce is so easy to prepare, you could probably do it eyes closed. This recipe gives a cranberry sauce that’s a bit more tart than usual, but you’ll probably end up liking it even more than the cranberry sauce you used to know.

At this time of the year, you shouldn’t have any problem finding fresh cranberries, but you can always use frozen ones in the case you can’t find any.


    * 1 lb fresh raw cranberries;
    * 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice;


   1. Place the cranberries and orange juice in a pot and slowly bring to a boil, making sure to stir from time to time.
   2. As the cranberries cook, they will eventually pop. When all the cranberries have popped, the sauce is ready.
   3. Cool in the refrigerator and serve with your thanksgiving turkey.
Beef, celery, walnut & apple stuffing

Who says turkey stuffing absolutely has to be made out of bread? This version made with lean ground beef, celery, apples and walnuts tastes amazing and is way, way healthier. The ground beef has to be very lean not because we are scared of the fat in any way, but because the fat changes the taste and texture and creates something much different looking and tasting than a traditional stuffing. With the celery, apples and spices used, the aroma and texture will be very similar to the traditional stuffing. Cooked outside the bird, stuffing was traditionally called dressing, but now the names seem to be interchangeable. The usual spices used in a turkey stuffing are often sold in a mixture called a poultry mix and include rosemary, sage, thyme, and marjoram. Of course, the result will be much better if you chop yourself fresh herbs than if you buy a mix of dried a dried version of them.

    * 1 lb extra lean ground beef;
    * 1 tbsp cooking fat;
    * 4 stalks celery, diced;
    * 1 medium onion, diced;
    * 1 apple, diced;
    * 2 cups finely chopped walnuts;
    * 1 clove garlic, minced;
    * Generous amount of poultry mix or springs of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, and marjoram, very finely chopped;
    * Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;


   1. Preheat your oven to 375 F.
   2. In a large pan, sauté to ground beef and celery with the cooking fat for about 3 minutes. Make sure to crumble the ground beef to small pieces.
   3. Add the diced apple and onion and continue sautéing for another 2 minutes.
   4. Add the fresh herbs or poultry mix, minced garlic, walnuts and season with salt and pepper. Mix well. The meat should still be somewhat pink, it’ll finish cooking in the oven.
   5. Put the mixture in a baking dish and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes in the preheated oven.

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