Do you dream of having an entire gluten free turkey dinner? Whether you look forward to a fabulous spread with all the trimmings or dread the challenges of making sure you have safe food to eat one thing is for sure, Thanksgiving and Christmas often involves a big turkey dinner.
People who eat gluten free have a variety of approaches to make this event more enjoyable and less stressful. For some people it is cooking the whole meal, or at least the main dishes, themselves.
A Southwestern Turkey Dinner Menu
Every elaborate feast involves many steps and organization is the key to success. This post has ideas to think about for entertaining and tips to prepare the kind of Turkey dinner you want.
In my family everyone has fond memories of the sage-infused bread stuffing my mother and grandmother both made for years. My turkey dinner menu features the flavours of the American Southwest with a fabulous cornbread stuffing.
This is my main menu and people bring a few other dishes to make it a real feast.
- Achiote Butter Basted Turkey
- Cornbread Chorizo Stuffing or Cornbread Sausage Stuffing Balls
- Ancho Chile Gravy
- Cranberry Orange and Cilantro Salsa
- Roasted Root Vegetables
- We serve Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving and all sorts of baking for our Christmas dinner.
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Top 5 Tips for a Gluten Free Turkey Dinner
Each recipe is straightforward; it does not require deboning the turkey or studying a new culinary art form for weeks. It does however require a few specialty ingredients and plenty of advance planning. The best tip is to make a plan and stick with it.
- Plan your table – Decide what the table will look like and commit to it. Buy what you need and resist the urge to change your table because you saw a cool picture on Pinterest. Borrow any dishes you need and get them well in advance.
- Respect tradition – Ask people what part of the meal is most important to them and include it on your menu. Tell them you did it just for them. If one person really wants bread stuffing then ask someone to make it and bring it in a casserole dish. Ask year after year and you may find that when people think about it they realize it's not about the jellied salad...or maybe it is.
- Ask for help – Choose a few recipes someone else can make and ask people you trust to make them. Do not ask the people who will add more stress to your planning. If you want to do all the work then include do-ahead dishes like a frozen dessert and be mindful that you made the choice.
- Make lists – Not everyone is a list maker but lists can sure help. Make a separate list of ingredients you can purchase well in advance and then do it. Avoid a last minute grocery run for something that will keep in your cupboard for a year. Make a list of what prep you can do a week in advance and then one, two and three days in advance.
- Enjoy the process – Cooking and entertaining involves planning, time in the kitchen and cleaning up. As with everything in life the glass is both half empty and half full, you decide what you want to focus on. Crank up the music while you chop and stir, enjoy the peace and quiet at midnight while you wash dishes, or share a glass of wine and laugh with someone while you work together. This small effort can make up for the usual family foibles that go along with these traditional gatherings.
Is it Worth the Effort?
The goal is perhaps a fabulous celebration of the many things we all have to be thankful for. If you are celebrating family, friends and good health then steps to minimize stress should be included. In five minutes you could list the three (or ten) most stressful aspects of entertaining. Do it, make the list now. Then beside each one write down something you can do to minimize that stress.
Clarifying your perspective of the whole event will increase the chance that your turkey feast is enjoyable. If after thinking about your list of what causes you stress you decide it is not worth it then rethink your turkey feast. Maybe your gluten free turkey feast is not for family. Did you know you can actually cook turkey days other than Thanksgiving and Christmas? Here are a few ideas to think outside the box for at least one feast. Be careful, if it turns out to be a lot of fun you may have just started a new annual event.
- Cook your Turkey Feast for people who appreciate it on a date that works for that crowd.
- Remember Opposite Day? If you are in the United States why not host an annual Canadian Thanksgiving in October. For Canadians do the opposite, an American Thanksgiving in November. The perfect opportunity to have a turkey dinner your way.
- Organize a fancy Christmas or New Year's party around a Turkey Feast.
- For a turkey lover (like my mom) plan a Turkey Feast for a winter birthday celebration. We have lots of December birthdays in my family.
- Plan an elaborate Pot Luck Turkey Feast for a more fun and casual Christmas in July.
Hosting a Big Turkey Dinner
Are you ready to host a big turkey dinner? At some point families realize mom has cooked enough turkey dinners and it's time to pass on the torch. Or maybe you're ready to try Thanksgiving dinner for friends.
Whether you're trying to embrace tradition or create your own annual event I hope you'll consider this menu for your feast. You never know, you might just have fun doing it.
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