Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Different Spin On Holiday Dishes

In another week we'll all be sitting down to the usual turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. Yet its' not written in stone that we should have this for Thanksgiving or even Christmas. If the menu is boring, or too predictable, then it's time to mix it up. Nothing livens up a meal than a surprise dish.

Turkey is always a mainstay in any Thanksgiving, holiday or family dinner. It's usually basted in just butter and then seasoned simply with salt and pepper. For a little zing try brining the bird in citrus.It's a mix of lemon and orange wedges with more traditional ingredients such as thyme and onion. A sweeter brine can be made with  apple cider or apple juice. The cider is the hard alcoholic  kind and brown sugar is also added too, along with a variety of spices like cinnamon, allspice and whole peppercorns.If you really want to change it up serve capon which is a castrated rooster..It has a higher fat content , thus having a richer taste and moister texture.It can be brined, just as a turkey, try a lemon sherry one .Many just like it basted  with butter. It's an easier roast than turkey and novice home chefs should try it before graduating to the bigger bird. Some may worry that capons won't feed large crowds. Most are between eight and ten pounds so it can feed a small crowd.Of course there is tofurkey, the tofu loaf that's a standard with vegans and vegetarians. It's certainly different but also healthy.There are zero carbs and it's slightly lower in calories. Be warned however, tofurkey is made with wheat which has gluten.If you want  a different main dish, then go with the capon.

If you still want the traditional turkey , then switch sides - literally. Cranberry sauce usually evinces winces and groans. Liven it up with some spicing.Add some cloves   and cayenne(!) for true zip and zing. There will be no leftovers, guaranteed. Another recipe  is cranberry chutney, a nice alternative to that glop that slides out of the can.The cranberries are mixed with cut apples and diced celery along with different sweet spices such as cinnamon, ground clove and nutmeg .Mashed potatoes are always thought of as bland sometimes. Try buttermilk instead of regular milk for something different. Garlic mashed potatoes are  a restaurant top favorite. They're easily replicated at home, simply by adding six to seven crushed garlic cloves. Throw in some parmesan cheese for more flavor. A totally different interpretation is making the mashed potatoes the day before and then turn them into puffs. It's an easy transformation of rolling the cold mash into balls then first dipping into beaten eggs and then bread crumbs. Fry in oil or butter. It's a fun crisp twist on the classic goes well with gravy or as a base for a hot turkey sandwich.

Thanksgiving or any holiday dinner is meant to be fun eating. Liven it up with some twists and spin on the original. It wll be a memorable meal with truly memorable dishes that everyone will love.

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