Followers of this space probably already know that I love Thanksgiving but think that turkey, as a staple of the holiday table, pretty much sucks. I mean, we spend all day in the kitchen on Thanksgiving, preparing meals for our family and friends, and this is how we’re rewarded? With turkey? And boring sides? That’s just dumb. And why work your butt off for just one Thanksgiving meal?
When it comes to Thanksgiving, I say eat often and drink often. If you’re going to spend the whole day in the kitchen, cooking and eating, make it special. Follow my simple Thanksgiving menu rule: Add a few more courses throughout the day – and a few more wines – for a very special Thanksgiving day with friends and family that has zero chance of being ruined with dry turkey and my sister’s green bean casserole.
With that in mind, I give you my gastronomic Thanksgiving to remember – 2015 edition, of course. Six courses and six wines from six different regions and six different countries, all to be served in small portions over a 12 hour span for one amazing culinary extravaganza.
(Psssst…. To revisit the 2014 version of my reimagined American Thanksgiving, click here)
Course #1 – 9am – Breakfast
Bacon and Leek Quiche with Prosecco Mimosa
Quiche is the best way to start the day. It’s rich and hearty, but can easily be made without a crust if you want to keep it on the lighter side. As for the mimosa, just choose a good quality orange juice, or preferably squeeze a few oranges yourself. The proportion should be about 1/4 orange juice to 3/4 prosecco.
The Recipe: Bacon and Leek Quiche
Course #2 – 12pm – Lunch
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Chardonnay
Everyone has a butternut squash soup story, but how many of you have a butternut squash and apple story? Blending roasted apples in the squash adds a perfect balance of sweet and savory. And, when you say sweet and savory, my first thought is Chardonnay. A White Burgundy, showing less oak than the American options, will bring a slightly sweet and acidic balance to the soup.
The Recipe: Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Course #3 – 2pm – Midday Snack
Lemon, Pea and Mint Risotto with Vinho Verde
Risotto is an unsung hero during the holidays. It’s the anti-potato. You can pretty much do anything with it. Adding lemon juice, fresh peas and mint make this dish delightfully fresh and a perfect mid-day course. A white Vinho Verde from Portugal is the perfect pairing – after all, it’s the best wine in the world – and its citrus notes and slight effervescence pair well with the freshness of the risotto. Just be cautious, because risotto is filling. Portion out just a couple bites with a glass of Vinho Verde and save some room for the main attraction.
The Recipe: Lemon, Pea and Mint Risotto
The Wine: Aveleda Vinho Verde 2014 – Portugal – $9
Bonus Wine Alert – Take a break after the risotto for some football, maybe a nap, and definitely some mixed fruits, nuts, and a good Oregon Pinot Noir disguised as a house wine. My pick? DePonte Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2013 – Oregon – $35
Course #4 – 5pm – Salad Course
Grilled Romaine Citrus Caesar Salad with Rosé
We’re coming up on the home stretch. We have a lot of food and wine here. It’s best to keep things light. Oiling and flash grilling romaine until it is ever so slightly charred and wilted bring an incredible smokiness to the lettuce. It’s fantastic and should be done more. A Vin Gris of Pinot Noir brings fruit forward and blends well with this homemade citrus caesar dressing.
The Recipe: Grilled Romaine Citrus Caesar Salad
Course #5 – 7pm – The Main Event
Steak Oscar with Malbec
A Steak Oscar is the best Thanksgiving entree of all time. The blending of the crab meat and the juicy filet is just sublime. This recipe incorporates a sweet corn velouté rather than the traditional hollandaise or bearnaise and tops the steak with an easy crab cake instead of just plain lump meat. Go big or go home! This dish screams Malbec, and bottle below is probably the best value high end Malbec from Argentina. It’s lush and perfect, with massive intense fruit and subtle tannins.
The Recipe: Mario Batali’s Steak Oscar
Course #6 – 8pm – Dessert
Chocolate Mousse with Moscatel
I love having mousse as a finishing touch on Thanksgiving. It’s rich but not overpowering, sweet yet light. It’s an elegant dessert when spooned into wine glasses or flutes and topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or a raspberry. As for wine, remember, dessert wines need to be just a tad sweeter than the dessert to avoid conflict and not make the wine taste horrible. The jasmine, citrus, honey and orange blossom notes of this Moscatel are perfect with the mousse and will bring this meal to a beautiful finish.
The Recipe: Chocolate Mousse
Need other dessert and wine options? Find them here! (Just stay away from canned pumpkin pie. That’s boring.)
Buon appetito and Happy Thanksgiving!