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3 ideas for thinking smaller this Thanksgiving

Three ideas for thinking smaller this Thanksgiving

Editor’s note: This column has been updated to reflect that Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe is not offering Thanksgiving orders.

My wife says I sometimes bear an uncanny resemblance to the titular protagonist of the animated show “Bob’s Burgers.” While our physical characteristics may not be very similar, we both have a particular passion for Thanksgiving. Every year, the show puts out a Thanksgiving episode, and my wife will look over at me and say, “That sounds like you,” as Bob Belcher obsesses over his newest Thanksgiving meal.

I love Thanksgiving. A lot. One thing I especially love about the holiday is that it gives me carte blanche to cook obscene amounts of food without the risk of having to eat all of the leftovers myself.

With that said, it should go without saying that this Thanksgiving is going to be a bit difficult for me as we are planning on staying at home instead of visiting family members. The turkey that I had preordered from the Scanga Meat Co. will be going into our chest freezer for a future family gathering while my wife, kid and I enjoy a much less ambitious meal.

I imagine there are more than a few people who are also having to scale back their Thanksgiving plans right now, so here are a few tips to have a smaller Thanksgiving dinner.

Go for a smaller bird

You can get fairly small whole turkeys, but most of them are still too large for a small family, unless you really like leftovers. Instead of getting a whole bird, many grocery stores (including Safeway and City Market) offer turkey breasts.

You might also try cooking Cornish game hens, which are small enough to make one serving per bird. This year, I’m going to take advantage of a smaller group, and a smaller bird, to make my first attempt at spatchcocking — taking the spine out of a bird and flattening it for more even cooking.

The Rocky Mountain Cannery in Breckenridge offers a solid selection of pepper jellies and preserves that can be paired with cream cheese and crackers.
Photo from Rocky Mountain Cannery

Get a little something special

Because I’m not thinking of buying enough food to feed a large group, one thing I’m thinking about is splurging on a few special ingredients.

Crystal Otto is the owner at Olive Fusion in Breckenridge, a specialty food shop that offers several specialty meal kits. The shop offers several specialty oils and spices that could be great to enhance many dishes. For poultry, she recommends coating it with their rosemary oil and Naples seasoning.

For an easier Thanksgiving meal, Otto says their Tuscan-fried chicken and roasted potatoes kit is a simple, delicious option that only needs chicken, potatoes and your choice of veggies.

The Rocky Mountain Cannery in Breckenridge offers several regionally sourced gourmet foods, including a healthy variety of pepper jellies. Owner Deven Carr says pouring a half-cup of one of their pepper jellies over 8 ounces of cream cheese makes a solid pairing with crackers.

If you want to round out a Breckenridge-supplied charcuterie board, consider adding some cheese from The Cheese Shop and bread from La Francaise French Bakery.

Sister Pie’s salted maple pie combines a custardy texture with a salty-sweet maple flavor.
Photo by E.E. Berger

Don’t skip dessert

Usually I would be gearing up to make at least three pies for Thanksgiving. For me, pie is the go-to dessert for the holiday.

For those who don’t want to make their own pie, there are plenty of great options in the area to order pies ahead of time, including the newly opened Saved by the Wine. However, if you’re open to something new, I might recommend trying a recipe from one of my favorite joints in Detroit: Sister Pie.

If you’re ever in Detroit, definitely check out their shop down on the east side of town, but head baker Lisa Ludwinski also has an amazing cookbook, which is full of some of the shop’s best recipes. The one that I’ll be baking this year is their salted maple pie, which is their version of a classic chess filling.

You’ll have to buy the cookbook to get her pie crust recipe, but I did get permission to share the recipe for the filling. If you like the idea of a pie with custardy filling and salty-sweet maple flavor, give this one a try.

Sister Pie’s salted maple pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

Ingredients

•1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

• 1 cup Grade B maple syrup

• 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

• 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal

• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, heaping

• 3 large eggs, room temperature

• 1 large egg yolk, room temperature

• 3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature

• 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

• 1 9-inch pie crust

• 1 large egg, beaten

• Flaky sea salt

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Make the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter and maple syrup. Whisk in the brown sugar, cornmeal and kosher salt.

Crack the eggs and yolk into another medium bowl. Add the cream and vanilla and whisk until combined. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the maple mixture and whisk until just combined.

Place the blind-baked shell on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the crimped edge with the beaten egg. Pour the maple filling into the pie shell until it reaches the bottom of the crimps.

Transfer the baking sheet with the pie on it to the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the edges are puffed and the center jiggles only slightly when shaken. It will continue to set as it cools.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool for 4-6 hours. Once fully cooled and at room temperature, sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt, slice into 6-8 pieces, and serve.

Store leftover pie, well wrapped in plastic wrap or under a pie dome, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Reprinted with permission from ​“Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit” ​by Lisa Ludwinski.

Steven Josephson is the arts and entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News.

 


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