Harvest is winding down now in Napa Valley and the cooler temperatures signal the coming of the holidays. As our thoughts turn to welcoming family and friends into our homes for the Thanksgiving feast, I want to share with you some of my favorite tried and true recipes.
Thanksgiving meals are filled with family traditions, and here in the Wine Country the emphasis is on locally grown fruits and vegetables, organic and free-range turkey, and, of course, wine. I look for local producers who whose birds are fresh -- not frozen -- and are available for pickup right before Thanksgiving.
I am hooked on brining the turkey. The result is amazingly good--a moist, flavorful turkey with both white and dark meat being equally enjoyable. Turkey stuffing divides families. Here is one of my favorites and an old family recipe, along with a tried and true roasting method for the bird.
Bread bakers: this brioche is superb, but admittedly, it is a bit of work. I look at Thanksgiving a bit differently than other holidays: Thanksgiving is all about family and friends…and of course food. Try this recipe. You simply cannot buy bread like this.
Fig chutney and fig preserves are great with turkey, and they are wonderful the next day. And who can have too many cranberry recipes? These two are very different: one somewhat savory and the other hot and sassy. Both are great pushed up against the turkey on the plate, making a forkful of meat, stuffing, and fruit. Nothing is better than these cranberry and fig recipes for leftover turkey sandwiches the next day.
I love to start with soup as the first course on Thanksgiving Day. The Roasted Parsnip Soup has great fall flavors gently brought out in oven roasting, and pairs perfectly with the Joseph Phelps Vineyards Viognier.
The sides for the Thanksgiving meal highlight fall flavors, with earthy root vegetables and dark greens. The Potatoes Mashed with Turnips and Celery Root have a richness and creaminess that is very satisfying. The Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts is colorful when prepared with rainbow chard. The Broccoli Rabe (also called rapini or broccoletti) with garlic is another favorite.
Wines for the Feast
There are several options for wines to pair with this scrumptious feast. Pinot Noir from our Sonoma Coast vineyards in Freestone will likely please everyone. Its rich cherry, raspberry, and spice notes offer a burst of flavor with each sip. The wine’s underlying structure – its acidity and earthy undertones - will pair well with the richness of the turkey and all the sides. For an additional wine to serve, the Joseph Phelps Vineyards Syrah is a great food wine and finds a very comfortable place at the table with this meal. And for those who must have cabernet sauvignon, the Joseph Phelps Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia will certainly be appreciated.
Desserts at Thanksgiving can be as contentious as stuffing recipes. I offer two desserts which can go along with a traditional pumpkin, mincemeat or pecan pie. I usually serve dessert after we have finished the main course, cleared the table, and taken a little breather. Both of these recipes go well with the Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisrébe and really make a glorious end to a fabulous meal. The Apple Crisp is simple and even better topped with cheddar cheese. The Poached Pears are light and delicious (and be sure to make extra because they keep well for several weeks).
I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!