The Perfect Holiday Meal
Getting ready for your Thanksgiving celebration? While cooking a delicious turkey is certainly an important component for the holiday meal, it’s how you prepare the rest of your meal that will leave your guests talking about your holiday soiree for seasons to come. Here are some shopping tips below to help you create your perfect get-together.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, it’s the main meal that does all the heavy lifting. Anything served before the main course should be a simple affair. Rather than filling up your guests with heavy appetizers, keep snacks light and simple, just enough to provide an ice breaker that gets people mingling.
Suggestions : A few bowls of spiced nuts or a cheese platter are a great way to kick off the holiday meal. Easy in preparation, these simple snacks are both tasty while also perfectly sized so that guests won’t get too full to enjoy the main event.
Need help? A recipe for spiced nuts from Magee’s House of Nuts and a cheese selection guide from Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market are both available in our cookbook, L.A.’s Original Farmers Market Cookbook. Or drop by the merchants to get first-hand advice.
For turkey, we think the easier the better. Rather than hide the flavor of the turkey in heavy seasonings or worse—deep frying the life out of it—the best turkeys are the ones where the natural flavors shine through. The Classic Herb Roasted Turkey recipe, from Sur La Table, which is simply basted with a little butter and some seasonal herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme, is the perfect way to show off your culinary skills.
Shopping Tip : Thanksgiving dinner is arguably one of the most important meals of the year. It is a time when families come together and give thanks for all that is right in their life. Why not make the meal extra-special with a custom-ordered Willie Bird or Diestel Turkey. These free-range turkeys, carefully raised in Sonoma, Calif., have won a variety of best-of-the-best awards and are the preferred turkeys for chefs from near and far. Willie Birds can be ordered fresh at Puritan Poultry and Diestel turkeys can be ordered at Farmers Market Poultry.
It’s not that difficult to make a flavorful gravy; sadly most recipes make it sound a lot more complicated than it actually is.
Once your turkey has finished cooking, remove it from the pan and pour all your turkey drippings into a measuring cup. Let the cup sit for a few minutes, then remove all (or most) of the liquid that floats to the top. That’s all fat. Add just enough chicken broth to the drippings to measure two cups. Pour the entire mixture into a sauce pan and heat it up and flavor the mixture with a little salt and pepper and a bouillon soup cube.
While the broth is heating, measure about ¼ cup of chicken broth (or water) and ¼ cup of flour and blend with a whisk until you have a smooth paste. When the cooking liquid reaches a brisk boil, pour in the flour mixture, reduce the heat, and whisk the entire stock until it thickens. Voila gravy!
Stuffing, might just be the hardest decision you’ll make for your entire Thanksgiving. When it comes to stuffing, only one thing is certain, if you’re still using a box mix, you should stop immediately. Beyond that the choices are infinite. Cook it inside the bird, cook it separately from the bird. Use white bread, wheat bread, French bread or cornbread. Add meat, keep it vegetarian. So many decisions….
At its most basic, stuffing is a mixture of fresh veggies like onions and celery, some cubed bread and a few select herbs and seasonings. Diestel Turkeys, who’ve been helping families create fantastic Thanksgiving meals since 1949, provides this classic Savory Herb Stuffing recipe that involves no sautéing. Simply mix the ingredients and stuff the bird.
Shopping Tip : Instead of using plain bread, why not jazz things up with some fresh baked bread at Normandie Bakery, Short Cake or T&Y Bakery. Ask if they have day-old bread, or buy the bread fresh and give it a day or two to age. The firmer texture of the fresh-baked products will add extra body to your stuffing.
Additionally, if you want your stuffing to have a little extra kick, talk to the experts at Dragunara Spice Bazaar. They can help you decide upon a flavor profile that is uniquely yours for your entire holiday meal.
Serving cranberries with your holiday meal is a must. But if your cranberry dressing is coming out cylindrical—ie, out of can—you just aren’t doing it right.
For us, our hands-down favorite recipe is a local find, Mom Parson’s Cranberries, a passed-down family recipe from L.A. Times Food Editor Russ Parsons. The added citrus zest help cut through the sweetness normally associated with cranberry sauce. The recipe recommends preparing the dish three days in advance, but we always forget and cook it Thanksgiving morning, and it comes out tasting just fine.
Not up to preparing your own cranberries? Pick up some tasty cranberry relish to go at Magee’s Kitchen.
No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a full complement of veggies on the side. Corn and mashed potatoes are usual suspects, but some prefer their mash contain root veggies. Whether you’re preparing only fresh veggies or cooking an elaborate family recipe, our produce merchants, Farm Boy Produce and Farm Fresh Produce (link to: ) can help you determine what’s in season and just how much you need to order to make sure there’s enough for seconds.
Preparation Tip: If you’re preparing mashed sweet potatoes or yams, be sure to drop in a teaspoon—or a little more if you have a sweet tooth—of brown sugar into the mashed mixture. The sugar will be just enough to highlight the natural flavors but not so much that you’ll overpower the palate.
Clearly, when it comes to Thanksgiving, we’re a big fan of DIY meals. But when it comes to dessert, we say why not let L.A.’s leading pie expert—Du-par’s Pie Shop —do the work for you. Pass them off as your own, or impress your guests with your knowledge of where to get the best pies in town. One thing though, these pies are super popular, so don’t leave your ordering until the last minute. In fact, we encourage you to pre-order your pies.
Want to impress your guests with something extra special? Be sure to pick up a gallon of Pumpkin Ice Cream, available at Bennett’s Ice Cream, L.A.’s beloved ice cream shop.
Thanksgiving to Go by the Merchants of Farmers Market
If you’d prefer to leave most of the cooking—and cleaning—to someone else, several Farmers Market merchants have teamed up to create the ideal ready-made Thanksgiving to Go. The menu includes a pre-brined turkey with all the fixings, sides, dessert and wine and cheese.
Marconda's Puritan Poultry Turkey
12-14lb | $60
16-28lb | $75
Short Order To-Go Items (serves 6-8)
Stuffing Kit | $12
Turkey Giblet Gravy | $13
Turkey Stock | $6
Cranberry Relish | $9
Short Cake's Pies & Baked Goods
Short Cake's Parker House Rolls ($10 for 8 rolls)
Apple Pie | $28
Pumpkin Pie | $26
Pecan Pie | $30
Show your receipt for the whole meal to the clerks at Monsieur Marcel's and you’ll also receive 10% off all cheese and Bordeaux wines by the bottle.
To order call 323.761.7976