By Maayan Jaffe
Traditional foods are a large part of Thanksgiving celebrations. Whether it’s Bubbe’s stuffing or mama’s turkey gravy, the aroma of a traditional Thanksgiving meal has a way to tickle the nose and make the stomach growl.
In my home, I like to combine the traditional with the modern – fusing new flavors with the old. The most electrifying part of my menu is the wine. Picking the best wines to help carry us through the meal is a challenge and an opportunity.
Here our my plans for this year. I hope it offers a little inspiration!
To Start: Chilled Apple Soup
Falls says apples. I like to infuse apples into anything. My cold apple soup, with its combination of granny smith apples, vegetable broth and margarine offers a refreshing alternative to a heavier fall or winter stew.
The recipe calls for white wine and I tend to combine a cup of dry white, such as Yarden White Hermon – produced in the Golan’s rocky volcanic soil — with a cup of sweeter white, such as Cantina Gabriele Vino White. Alternatively, if I only want to open one bottle (but why would one do that?!), I use a semi-dry, such as Gush Etzion Spring River Semi Dry White, an excellent blend made of the most aromatic grapes.
- Green apples (4)
- Margarine (2 tablespoons)
- Sugar (3 teaspoons)
- White wine (2 cups)
- Vegetable stock (2 cups chilled)
- Black pepper to taste
Sautee chopped apples in heated margarine and add spices, tossing until the apples lightly brown. Add the white wine and cook until the apples soften. Put into a blender with the chilled broth and blend well. I like to serve in little glass bowls with some diced red apples as garnish!
I like to serve the leftover wine with this course.
Everyone has their own turkey recipe. Mine involves a crockpot steaming with mushroom wine sauce (made with the turkey in the crockpot) and mushroom stuffing. The key here is to rub oil under the turkey skin before placing the bird in the oversized crockpot. Be careful not to tear the skin!
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 4 medium onions, sliced
- 4 boxes sliced mushrooms (I like to use two standard and two portabella)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Vegetable broth to cover the bird
- 4 cups chopped onions
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 box sliced mushrooms
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup matzo meal or breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup parsley
Pull the neck and the giblets out of the cavity (yuck!) and discard. Rinse the turkey and pat it dry. Chop the onions and sauté them with the mushrooms until translucent. Beat the eggs and combine with all the other ingredients, including the onions and mushrooms. Pour inside the bird. Gently pull back the turkey skin and rub with oil and then place it in the crockpot. Pour the sauce ingredients over the turkey and shut the lid.
To ensure a healthy bird: Cook for three hours on high and then one to two hours on low for every pound of turkey. In my house, we make Thanksgiving on Friday night or Shabbat day, so I often let the turkey cook over night.
When it comes to pairing wine with turkey, the simple answer is red. I prefer a bolder red wine, such as the Domaine Netofa Red, which is patiently assembled to allow its Syrah and Mourvedre grapes to fully express themselves in a fine, fruit and generous way. Another option is Segal’s Fusion Red Blend, a young and easy to drink red wine.
On The Side: Sweet & Savory
To accompany the bird, which I like to display prominently in the center of the table, I try to add some color and a combination of sweet and savory flavors. Traditional cranberries become cutting edge when blended with a ruby port. Basic green beans awaken the palate when mingled with parsley, tarragon and chives. And my favorite: Fennel, Jerusalem artichoke and apple salad.
The fennel salad is a French recipe, but it’s a real hit in Israel, where all three main ingredients are accessible and trendy.
This recipe is something I found online (and make no modifications!), so you can simply click here to get the details.
When serving the main course – turkey and sides – it’s important to provide something sweeter with your bold reds. Here, I recommend Capcanes Peraj Petita Rosat. The wine is a combination of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Merlot, which keeps it dry yet sweet. The wine exhibits some fairly lively fruit aromatics and a fruity finish.
The Grand Finale: Pumpkin Pie
Nothing says Thanksgiving like the smell of pumpkin pie. A 2010 report by ABC News says the aroma of pumpkin gets a man’s blood rushing more than any other. A traditional pumpkin pie is good, add granny smith apples and candied pecans and you have a fusion of sweet, sour, sticky … and sensational!
- Pre-made pie shell, defrosted
- 6 tablespoons margarine
- 3 pounds cubed pumpkin
- 2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup candied pecans
Melt the margarine in a large skillet, add the pumpkin and apples and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes on a high heat. Lower the heat and add the sugar and vanilla. Cover and simmer until the pumpkin and the apples are very soft (but still hold their shape) – about 30 minutes. Cool, stir in pecans, fill pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
A great dessert calls for an exceptional dessert wine. The Yarden Muscat, with its orange blossom, marmalade and lemon zest notes layered with nutmeg and vanilla bean, is perfect. It is unabashedly sweet. I’d keep an extra bottle on hand!
Happy Turkey Day! God bless America.
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