Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, Thanksgiving has firm roots in the US. Over time, people have interpreted the festival with new meanings, but gratitude and sharing are always at the heart of the celebration. This year, of course, gatherings are not so simple, and coming home for the holidays won’t be an option for many. We hope that you can still find a way to mark the occasion, perhaps with closer company, a distanced dinner, or by celebrating over Skype.
Here are some of our suggestions for pairing wine with the traditional elements of a Thanksgiving dinner, with some lovely recipes for any newcomers who are keen to have a go!
The Thanksgiving turkey
Always the star of the show, the turkey takes centre stage on the table laid to welcome family and friends who come to celebrate Thanksgiving. Simply cooked in the oven, the turkey is stuffed with simple ingredients like salt, pepper, onion, lemon, and aromatic herbs. The idea is to slide a few pieces of butter under the skin of the meat before basting the outside with herbed butter. Covered with tin foil, the turkey is cooked for 2 and a half to 3 hours, then the foil is removed so that cooking can continue for a further 30 minutes to an hour…until it’s golden brown. Those who are more experienced will know to leave the turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes once removed from the oven.
And what should you drink with it? If you’d like a white wine, Domaine Guffens-Heynen’s Mâcon-Pierreclos Premier Jus de Chavigne is a tempting choice. In terms of reds, we’re staying loyal to Burgundy: the delicate palate of Pinot Noir goes well with the texture of poultry. Think as well about Clos de la Pousse d’Or from Domaine de la Pousse d’or, or Domaine des Comtes Lafon’s cuvée Santenots du Milieu. Fans of Bordeaux will appreciate a mature wine accompanying the grilled and smoky notes of the dishes. What do you say to a bottle of Château Bellegrave (Pomerol)?
Worried you might get bored while the turkey cooks? Don’t worry, this will be the perfect time to prepare the other traditional dishes. First of all, to go with the turkey, nothing beats the famous ‘stuffing’, a dish made from bread. It’s a simple recipe that’s bound to please, and you’ll need:
- 2 baguettes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 whisked eggs
- 1 large onion
- 120g butter
- 480ml chicken or vegetable stock
- Fresh herbs: parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary
A day ahead of the festivities, cut the bread into cubes and leave it out to dry for 24 hours
When the day is here, preheat the oven to 180°c and butter a large oven sheet
In a pan, melt the butter, adding the onion, the garlic and the herbs
In a bowl, combine the butter mix and the bread. In a second bowl, beat together the eggs and the stock. Pour this mix onto the bread. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer this mixture onto the buttered sheet, cover with tin foil and cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and let the stuffing brown for 15-20 minutes.
Sweet potato and marshmallows
Another speciality, and a rather surprising one at that, is mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows. This simple recipe which, once put alongside the other dishes, ensures a wonderful sweet-salty balance, just involves sprinkling marshmallows onto mashed sweet potatoes and cooking it in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°. But what kind of wine goes with it? Nothing could be simpler! Consider the naturally sweet wines of the Loire (Domaine Huet’s Vouvrays) or Alsace (Pinot Gris from Domaine Keintzler).
If you still have room for dessert, here’s a traditional recipe to finish the meal on a sweeter note.
- Shortcrust pastry/pie crust
- 600g pumpkin purée
- 3 eggs
- 150g brown sugar
- 200ml condensed milk
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- ½ tbsp powdered ginger
- A pinch of nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar, then add the spices. Add the pumpkin purée and condensed milk. Stir until the mixture comes together.
Put the shortcrust pastry into a round pie tin. Pour the pumpkin mixture in and put in the oven.
After 15 minutes at 180°C, lower the temperature to 165°C and continue cooking the pie for 30 minutes.
The addition of a sweet wine will only enhance this delectable dessert. As mentioned before, the Loire offers quite a choice, and we recommend a cuvée from Domaine de la Taille aux Loups. Otherwise, a Gewurztraminer from an Alsace domain such as Ostertag would harmonise perfectly with the spices in the pie.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating, and to those who are simply curious, we hope you feel inspired to try a traditional recipe from across the Atlantic wherever you may be!