Local Turkey makes for a Bolder Thanksgiving

We LOVE sourcing local ingredients, and are so excited to have reserved a turkey with Long Shadow Farm in Berthoud, CO. We had one last year and it was phenomenal! Serving a fresh bird that had never been frozen was an absolute highlight to the gorgeous meal Sean and I prepared for some clients and their family. We can’t wait to do it again!

There’s a very limited supply of birds, so reserve one now.

Caramelized Onion Gravy

Three pounds of yellow onions really break down to be not too much after 1.5 hours of caramelization. But, all that time spent stirring and checking on them is worth it. Trust me.

Every year for my Thanksgiving gravy base, I hang by the stove, diligently stirring a pot of gold.  The onions will turn into a beautiful pot of gold if done correctly, and it takes so much time, this pot is as valuable, time-wise, as a pot of gold.  I suggest you give it a try.  You can also scale this down for smaller meals and use it as your secret weapon gravy base.

This year I started with 3 pounds of thinly sliced locally grown Colorado sweet yellow onions. I put them in a 4 quart stock pot, knowing they’d end up as a splash in the pan once caramelization took over.  Start with the heat up at medium-high and add two sticks of butter.  Let this start to sizzle. You want to hear it doing something.

Give it a stir every few minutes and let the butter melt. Then, turn down the heat to medium and keep coming back and stirring… and stirring… and stirring.

This is going to take some time, so plan to spend over an hour in the kitchen. Multi-task if you can because it really is a long time to spend looking over one single pot.

There eventually comes a time I call a “crucial moment” in the caramelization process because if you get bored and leave, your onions are going to burn. Trust me. As they turn into golden brown deliciousness, start stirring them more frequently. They’ll eventually be a gorgeous pot of gold. So get them off the heat.

Next, stir in 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, a couple teaspoons of fresh thyme and a teaspoon of minced fresh rosemary.  Mix everything really well and taste it to be sure the vinegar cuts through the fat from the butter. You might find that it needs a little more vinegar and a dash of salt.  But, remember that this is just the base for your gravy, so all of those flavorful pan drippings are going to add a rich complexity to this somewhat straightforward caramelized onion base. This can be made in advance, refrigerated, and put on the stove with pan drippings when you’re getting ready to serve the bird.

Enjoy in moderation!

Unibroue Édition 2005

My dad likes to save things, collect things, and let alcohol age. This Thanksgiving 2010 he opened a beer from 2005. But, it wasn’t just any old beer…
It was a Unibroue Édition 2005 from Chambly, Quebec.

According to the Unibroue website, the 2005 vintage ale is 10% ABV, complex, and no longer available. Looks like we drank one of the last bottles around.
Good thing my dad has a few more of Unibroue’s Special beers from other years because I have a feeling we’ll be opening another one next Thanksgiving.

Baked Apple Cider Sweet Potatoes

My family’s Thanksgiving table would not be complete without marshmallow topped sweet potatoes. I am not a fan or marshmallows myself… not any more. I loved them as a kid, but they are mysteriously white, puffy, sugar and calories. But, the majority of my family wins and they top my sweet potatoes each year. These are Whole Foods 365 brand marshmallows, sold in small batches, without a scary ingredient list. So, that’s what I went with to top…
Local New Jersey sweet potatoes. That’s right. Thanksgiving in New Jersey meant locally grown sweet potatoes (found at Whole Foods Millburn, the BEST Whole Foods I’ve seen), blended with local upstate NY apple cider. Yum.
It’s easy. Boil your yams (I had approximately 3 pounds), peel them when cool to touch, and put them in your stand mixer. Start with the paddle attachment on low and slowly increase the speed to 4 or so. Then, remove the paddle attachment, but don’t scrape it because it should be covered with thin hair-like fibers that are not pleasant in the mouth.
Switch to the whisk attachment, add 1 cup or so of apple cider, and slowly increase the speed until it is on high. Whip them a little, and transfer them to a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or so. Top with marshmallows at the end and bake another few minutes until golden brown.
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