Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving, Version 2.0

Last year was our first gluten-free Thanksgiving. It was just us, at our house, no guests. My husband (he's the best!) and I tag-teamed it and cooked it all. It was crazy! So after the holiday was over, I sat down and wrote myself a plan for this year. It took me awhile to figure out where I saved it, but I pulled it out today and I'm ready to do it again. Hopefully, with a little less craziness!

This year I am going to invite my husband's parents to join us. We'll have two diabetics at the table and one celiac. And everybody needs to feel like they got a Thanksgiving dinner that fit their idea of Thanksgiving dinner.

So here's my working Menu, all tentative and adjustable.

Appetizers to pick at while we cook and wait: Crudite (I love that word!), dip, pickles, olives, nuts, cheese and crackers.

The Main Event:
Turkey with cranberry sauce
Mashed potatoes and turkey gravy
Sweet potatoes with maple syrup and roasted pecans
Green beans
Drinks (we don't drink alcohol, so it will probably be diet soda or punch, or maybe just ice water with lemon slices)

Dessert: Pie and pie-ish sort of things

And here's my timeline

Early November: Buy the Thanksgiving Game Every year we get a new board game to play together after the big meal. Last year I forgot to buy it until the day before and I had a hard time finding the one I wanted.
Decide what to do about dessert! I have several considerations here. First, the non-celiacs are going to want "real" pie; last year I ordered it from the bakery around the corner, and I will probably do the same thing again. Second, what kind of pies? Third, what kind of pie does the celiac want and can I convince him to let me make him a dessert that has fewer carbs than an actual pie? (He's one of the diabetics.) Fourth, am I really the only person who likes pumpkin pie? Dang it! And should I get a whole pumpkin pie for myself or should I make pumpkin custard (I'm really not a fan of pie crust) or should I just settle and eat the cherry?
Make the dough for my husband's favorite non-GF rolls, roll them out and freeze them. I want to get this done while my little celiac is at school, so I have plenty of time to decontaminate the kitchen. It's too stressful to do it the day of, and most bread dough's freeze great. I'll just let them thaw and rise and bake them on the big day. It's too stressful to have flour flying around the kitchen on the big day.

Two weeks out: Make a grocery list. Start shopping for shelf-stable items.
Buy a gluten-free turkey: Last year I bought a Norbest turkey from Smith's. It was labeled gluten free. I was also given a turkey by my sweet neighbors, who won two turkeys gambling at a local casino (I live in Las Vegas, if you haven't already guessed). It was not a brand I recognized, it was not labeled gluten-free, and it was treated with broth, so I got on the Internet and did a search for the name of the farm, and found out that they were owned by a large company that I did recognize (I think it was Foster Farms, but I could be wrong). So I called up the large company, asked if the smaller company's turkey was gluten free and found out it was! Yeah, two turkeys! Now, some people just buy as much turkey as they need, but I figure if you are going to the trouble of doing a turkey, you should do a big turkey and freeze your leftovers.

One week out: Make bread for the stuffing, dry it in the oven and freeze it. Last year I waited until the week of Thanksgiving and it just made life hectic, so I'm going to try and make it earlier and freeze it. I use the stuffing recipe from Annalise Roberts' "Gluten-Free Baking Classics." Last year I made cornbread stuffing, but I think I might make regular stuffing this year.
If possible, make gluten-free dessert, and freeze it!
Roast and mash sweet potatoes. The rest of the year, I use the microwave, but for Thanksgiving, I like my sweet potatoes roasted in the oven. I think it kind of carmelizes the sugars and makes them even yummier. I've never frozen it before, but the Internet says you can freeze sweet potatoes, so I'm going to roast, mash and assemble my casserole and freeze it. I'll thaw it in the fridge overnight and then just heat it and top it on Thanksgiving.

Saturday night or Sunday morning: Start thawing the turkey in the fridge. You need 24 hours for every 4 pounds. I like to give myself a little extra time, because nothing is worse than trying to hack the frozen gizzards out of your bird on Thanksgiving morning! Been there, done that!

Monday: Make cranberry sauce. I really like homemade cranberry sauce, and it is easy to make, and it keeps well in the fridge. But if life gets hectic, I'll just use canned sauce. Last time I checked Ocean Spray was gluten free.

Tuesday: Finish grocery shopping.

Wednesday: Prep the turkey.
Make broth from the giblets.
Toast pecans for sweet potatoes.

Saute celery, onions, mushrooms for stuffing.
Make crudite, dip, assemble snack trays.
Make pumpkin custard? Maybe.
Pick up the pies.
Make sure I have ice cubes.
Straighten up the house before heading to bed.

Thanksgiving Day: Roast the bird.
Assemble and bake stuffing (not a big fan of stuffing the bird....)
Reheat sweet potatoes, top with maple syrup and nuts.
Make gravy.
Make mashed potatoes.
Cook the grean beans. I just really feel like you have to have something green, and carb-free, and my kids really like those frozen haricots verde (? the long, skinny green beans). I'll just throw these in the microwave. If my in-laws come and I get ambitious I might make a green salad, too.
Bake GF rolls. (Takes 40 minutes to rise, 20 minutes to bake)
Bake non-GF rolls. My notes say it takes 3 hours for them to thaw and rise, about 20 minutes to bake.

Carve turkey, set table!
Whew! And it will all be gone in 30 minutes or less!

So that's my plan, more or less, I'll fill you in on how it goes, as it goes. And I'm planning on posting my recipes, or links to my recipes, during the next few weeks.


  1. Good idea to be thinking of this so early! Even though my step-mom is hosting Thanksgiving, I'll be making lots of stuff (including some family recipes that my dad can't live without on Thanksgiving) and bringing it along for my son and me. I think I better get to list-making and long-range planning. Thanks for the nudge I needed...

  2. Tiffany, I vote for you having pumpkin pie. It's not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. People who don't like it have to eat it anyway! Someone else might surprise you and have a slice. BTW, that is the ONLY pie at our house. The whole family loves it. Hmmm, Maybe we should come over and help you finish it...

    I want your recipes. You are truly an inspiration. I haven't even thought about this yet.