Make a Traditional Thanksgiving Menu ... Completely Gluten-Free
It's that time of year again, when people begin to panic about the Holidays. Everyone wants to know how on earth can they make their traditional Thanksgiving Dinner totally Gluten-Free? Trust me, it’s not that difficult. Thanksgiving Dinner is primarily Gluten-Free to begin with…and super easy to create your old recipes safely. The trick to serving a 100% GF Thanksgiving to a mixed crowd is to not tell anyone it’s Gluten-Free. Aside from a discreet mention to those who need to know…no-one else need know.
THE TURKEY: You can't go wrong with a fresh Turkey. Fresh Turkeys are always Gluten-Free, just watch for any basting juices added. Otherwise, there are many brands out there that are safe…some even provide safe GF Gravy. Just to name a few…Butterball, Honeysuckle, Jennie-O, Perdue, Shady Brook…all have GF Turkeys. Keep in mind, stuffing a Gluten-Free turkey with gluten stuffing contaminates the entire turkey. Don't open any Gravy packet that's included with a Turkey unless it specifically states Gluten-Free.
STUFFING: It's extremely easy to make Gluten-Free stuffing. Simply replace the bread in your favorite recipe and it's likely to taste almost exactly the way you remember it. If you don’t have a traditional recipe to work with, or you simply prefer not to make your own, there are plenty of GF packaged stuffing mixes on the market now. Ian’s, Rudi’s, Whole Foods, Gillian’s, Glutino, Trader Joe’s, all have Gluten-Free Stuffing mixes that are easy to prepare.
CRANBERRY SAUCE: There's no reason for cranberry sauce to contain gluten. Read the label just to be certain and then check this one off your list. Or you can make your own. Empty a 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen Cranberries into a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup Sugar, 1/2 cup Honey, some Orange or Lemon zest and 1/2 cup Orange Juice to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the Sugar dissolves and the Cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the Cranberries burst, about 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to low for another minute or two and mash the Cranberries a bit. Add Salt and Pepper to taste and cool to room temperature before serving.
MASHED POTATOES: This is another no-brainer…Mashed Potatoes should be naturally Gluten-Free. Whether you like your Potatoes mashed, smashed, au gratin, baked or broiled…even Dairy Free…it’s just a matter of choosing alternative ingredients to match your recipes. There are even some brands of instant mashed potatoes that are Gluten-Free as well, just make certain to check the label first.
SWEET POTATOES: If you’re working with real ingredients you’ll have no trouble recreating your favorite Sweet Potato dish. If you need Marshmallows for your recipe, several different brands of marshmallows, including Kraft, Campfire, Jet, and even store brands are safely Gluten-Free. I actually prefer a simple roasted Sweet Potato...cubed Sweet Potatoes, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper, even touch of Honey and Cinnamon if you like...then roasted to perfection.
GRAVY: I remember Mom making the Thanksgiving Gravy using the Turkey pan drippings, plus Corn Starch…there was no need for flour there. Or you can use a GF Gravy mix, there are even some great jarred Gravies that are safe. McCormick's has a packaged mix that’s clearly marked Gluten-Free. And don’t forget, some Turkeys even come with a GF Gravy ready to heat and enjoy…just check to be certain it’s Gluten-Free.
DINNER ROLLS: Now this one can trip you up if you let it. We all know how difficult it can be to find a decent GF Bread for sandwiches…Rolls are no exception. So I’ll share my favorite Secret Ingredient Biscuits, from Cook’s Country. Try them, your guests won’t be disappointed.
2 cups Gluten-Free all-purpose flour mix
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk (not non-fat)
3/4 cup mayonnaise (not “fat free”)
Preheat oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, bakingpowder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and mayonnaise until smooth. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until no streaks of flour remain. Dough will be sticky. Lightly grease a 1/4-cup measure or an ice cream scoop and scoop the dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until biscuits are golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving, but these do taste best while still soft and warm from the oven. Makes 12.
Also, instead of rolls, you might consider deviating a little from the traditional menu and trying a Gluten-Free Cornbread recipe.
DESSERT: The trick to making a decent Gluten-Free pie is placing the emphasis on the filling, not on the crust. For years I’ve made my pies without the crust. It doesn’t’ serve up the same…but hey, it’s all about the filling right? And a scoop of my favorite pie in a bowl leaves plenty of room for Whipped Cream, or Ice Cream. And if you’re really desperate for a Gluten-Free crust you can occasionally find them in the freezer section of a local Health Food Store.
Carolanne Le Blanc