How to organize Thanksgiving lunch – Italian Cuisine


The pots start to rub, the most organized have long drawn up a shopping list and prepared a detailed planning, the perfectionists have already thought about how to decorate the table and of course everyone has already booked the turkey! Approaches the Thanksgiving, American feast that uses thelast Thursday of November and traditionally it is the time when families gather around the table to – in fact – say "thanks". The origin of this feast is religious and dates back to the time of the Pilgrim Fathers, in which he thanked us for the harvest of the year just ended. Today thanksgiving has become more secular, but the unifying spirit and the desire to party with relatives and friends remain intact.

Also in Italy, thanks to the opening of many American-style bakery and restaurants and numerous films and TV series set during Thanksgiving, the tradition of thanksgiving lunch begins to spread and to understand how to organize it we turned to a food expert from the American passport! We talked to Laurel Evans, known online as "An American in the kitchen"From the name of his blog. Laurel has lived in Italy since 2004 and through her blog and her cookbooks she tries to introduce the true American food culture.

Let's start with the organization: to arrive on time and not overflowed how many days before is it advisable to start the preparations?
I always recommend starting the day before lunch, so you won't get stressed on the day of the party.

110717Once the timing is defined, we can only concentrate on the true protagonist of Thanksgiving: turkey! Remember to order it in time because it is difficult to find large turkeys, calculating approximately 500gr of weight per diner. Be careful, however, not to exceed without first checking the size of the oven! The kitchens of American kitchens, in fact, are usually larger than ours and can easily accommodate turkeys of more than 8kg. Laurel suggested, also to better control the cooking, to "choose a turkey of 5-6 kg, which should sit quietly in a standard size oven".

Is it necessary to treat the turkey meat before cooking it?
I recommend making a dry marinade, that is, massaging the turkey with a mixture of salt and spices the day before, covering it with plastic wrap and letting it rest in the fridge for 24 hours before baking it. In this way the meat will flavor well and will also have a more pleasant consistency.

Filling yes, filling no, filling cooked and served separately. What do you prefer?
Tradition would like the filling inside the turkey, but the cooking times increase a lot with this method. For this reason, when I prepare the turkey, I cook the filling separately and serve it as a side dish. [Ndr. Esistono infinite varianti di ripieno per il tacchino, molte hanno una base di pane e carne di maiale, ma potete davvero sbizzarrirvi con la fantasia scegliendo di profumarlo con gli aromi che preferite e aggiungendo prugne, castagne, agrumi, tutti ingredienti che ben si abbinano alla carne del tacchino.]

The cooking of turkey is certainly the most delicate and difficult phase to manage.
Can we "forget" about the turkey once it is baked or should it be followed step by step? Is there a trick to check the cooking and to be sure that both the turkey meat and the filling are cooked?
The turkey should be followed, you can't absolutely "forget" it in the oven. It should be wet every half hour with a mixture of broth and butter to make it soft and succulent. To check the cooking, a meat thermometer should be inserted at the thickest point of the thigh (close to the bone but without touching it). The turkey is ready when the thermometer marks 72 ° C, on average it takes about 3 hours of cooking for a 5kg turkey.

What are the other dishes that can't miss on the Thanksgiving table?
To accompany the turkey it is necessary that there are many Side Dishes! My favorites are i Brussels sprouts baked with toasted hazelnuts and maple syrup and the cornbread, an easy to prepare corn bread that is a typical American dish from the southern states.

On the Thanksgiving table, desserts are also a must, and it is usually a parade of traditional American cakes: apple pie or the pumpkin pie that after the glories of Halloween it remains among the most important ingredients in the cuisine of American holidays. But my favorite is the pecan pie and maple syrup, its taste is precisely the essence of autumn.

Whatever the size of the turkey, it is almost impossible to finish it all! How do you use leftovers?
Apart from the famous sandwich with turkey, a great classic for reusing turkey, I prepare dumplings mixing the cooked and chopped meat with vegetables and milk. I cook this mixture and use it to stuff puff pastry bundles that I put in the oven. Simple and effective, practically perfect!

Claudia Minnella
November 2017
updated to November 2019


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