My family, both past and present, has always been a bit of a maverick when it comes to Thanksgiving. My grandmother apparently never fixed a turkey. It was always chicken. My mother says that the only time they had turkey on Thanksgiving was when they were guests at someone else's feast.
Well, that carried on down, you see, for my mother rarely ever cooked a turkey. I think I remember the last time she did, when I was very young, and some disaster happened, so from then on there was no turkey unless, as before, we were somewhere else. As I was growing up, Thanksgiving dinners ranged from sukiyaki to spaghetti to chicken. One year it was just tuna sandwiches.
Needless to say, I inherited a bit of an 'attitude' when it came to Thanksgiving dinner. As an adult, I refused to go the traditional route, opting instead to use the traditional ingredients, but in nontraditional ways. It's still my take on Thanksgiving. This year I was invited out, but for the last two holidays, I have made Giada's Turkey and Cranberry Ravioli for dinner. It's so good, that I suspect it will become the traditional meal for future holidays.
Last year I added a green bean casserole. Since I try not to use processed foods, it took awhile to find a good one. The only change I've made on Alton's original recipe is to deep fry the onions, although there is still room to play in that area. I also use cremini mushrooms.
I usually make my pumpkin pie for Halloween, and my pecan pie for Thanksgiving along with a pumpkin-themed dessert that is not pie. I'm constantly on the lookout for interesting recipes that provide a twist on the usual.
There is one item, however, that I don't mess with particularly. Rolls. Quite a few years ago, I came across a fabulous recipe for hamburger buns on King Arthur's Baking Circle chat group. I can make this blindfolded, by heart, I make it so often. It's one of the recipes my older daughter requested when she started her own family, and I know she makes it frequently. While it's geared for the bread machine, you can make it manually, as I have done several times. But, really, with all the preparation required for holiday meals, it's nice to have a fail-proof recipe that you can work on with minimal attention.
In the spirit of holiday sharing, here is the wonderful roll recipe.
1 c water
2 tbsp butter
3 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp instant yeast
Place all ingredients in your bread machine. Select manual dough cycle. Allow to run cycle.
Dump out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 pieces. With each piece, slap into a bun shape. Usually 4 or 5 slaps will do it. Place on greased cookie sheets or your bun pans, cover; rise about 30 to 40 minutes.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes til golden. Cool on wire racks.
If you don't have a bread machine, you can simply mix dough by any method you prefer. Let it rise one hour before shaping into 8 large buns.
My version: when the dough is ready for shaping, I shape as I wish. For large groups or holiday gatherings, I divide the dough into 15 pieces, shape into balls, and place in a 9” by 13” greased baking pan. When the rolls have risen, I brush them with melted butter and sprinkle salt or other seasonings on top, then bake them. The result is a pan of pull-apart rolls that are always the hit of the meal. If I want left overs, I make the rolls a bit smaller (18 rolls) and cook the extra 3 by themselves to enjoy later.
So, in the spirit of the season, I'm thankful for a family that encouraged me to create new traditions while appreciating the old ones.