Not everyone opts for turkey on Thanksgiving. Many families look for new ideas or a twist on the classic. Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen's Janine Washle says why not add a "wild" touch to your tried and true menu? She says game dishes offer a nice change on the holiday table.
Back in 1621 during the autumn the Governor, William Bradford, instructed the men to go "fowling" in preparation of a feast to give thanks for a successful corn harvest. They invited the Wampanoag Indians among others. These Indian allies taught the colonists how to gather sap for maple syrup, plant corn, how to fish in order to survive. The three day feast brought wild game to the table. The colony's men were successful in bringing back wildfowl and the Indians brought deer. Corn was on the table probably as cornmeal in the form of a bread or porridge type dish. There is no record of the specific menu, but anthropologists have researched notes and even pollen grains of the time in an attempt to determine what was consumed.
Give a little nod to history, consider serving venison, duck, quail, and even rabbit in addition to the iconic Thanksgiving turkey. These meats are tasty and typically lean. They cook quickly and will add an authentic touch to your holiday table. There are many retail sources for purchasing these. In fact, due to declining quail populations in the United States, it is recommended to only buy these rather than hunt them.
Another staple of Thanksgiving dinner is stuffing or dressing. Depending on where this delicious mixture of bread, celery, onions, and spices is put connotes which term to use. If stuffed in the bird, then herald it as stuffing; if in a dish on the side then call it dressing. Certainly not one to tread on tradition, it does get a boring to see the same old bread cubes in a dish. In fact, many guests usually pass it by leaving room for other more interesting side dishes. But it doesn't have to be that way. What other dressing choices are there?
Move beyond cornbread and bread dressings, and try a wild rice dressing, or even a cracker dressing. If all this talk of homemade dressing is leaving you stressed, don't hesitate to break out the familiar Pepperidge Farm package. There are creative ways to dress up store bought stuffing like baking it in hollowed apples, pumpkins even acorn squashes. Or consider enrobing in phyllo or puff pastry. What about a pie crust filled with dressing then topped with cranberry sauce, baked in a 350 degree oven until the sauce starts bubbling on the edges? It doesn't have to be a snooz-y side. This year make something different or gussy up the traditional. Either way, your guests will be talking about it next year!
Traditional Cornbread Dressing
(adapted from Southern Living)
1/2 cup butter
3 cups diced celery
2 cups diced sweet onions
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh sage
6 cups crumbled cornbread
3 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
7 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add celery and onions, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in sage, and sauté 1 minute.
2. Stir together cornbread and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Stir in eggs, next 2 ingredients, and celery mixture, stirring until blended. Divide cornbread mixture between 1 lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish and 1 lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish.
3. Bake at 400° for 45 to 55 minutes or until set and golden brown.
Wild Rice Dressing
(Adapted from Real Simple)
1 32-ounce container low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup wild rice
1 1/4 cup brown rice
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh sage, finely chopped
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup dried apricots or cranberries, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Heat oven to 350° F.
In a pot, over medium-high heat, bring the broth and 2 cups water to a boil. Add the wild rice and brown rice, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cooked rice, parsley, sage, pecans, apricots or cranberries, salt, and pepper and toss. Transfer to a buttered casserole. Cover and bake for 25 minutes.
In Advance: Assemble the dressing but do not bake it. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Bake as directed, adding 10 minutes to the baking time.
FREE RECIPE BOOKLET!!!
Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen also has a special Thanksgiving Recipe Booklet available by email. To ask for a complimentary copy, just email Janine Washle at email@example.com
To find Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen on Facebook: click here.
CloverFields Farm & Kitchen
Hardin Springs Area
Big Clifty, KY 42712
Janine Washle and her family live at the Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen in Big Clifty, Kentucky in Hardin County. CloverFields Farm & Kitchen, part of a century old farmstead, is our home and business. The McGuffin house, the original farmhouse, is a registered state landmark. CloverFields Farm has a prosperous farming history. They are continuing this rural story in their own unique way by the addition of CloverFields Kitchen a place to explore the past through food and merge it with our modern lifestyles.
CloverFields Farm is dedicated to the preservation of southern, especially Kentucky, food traditions. The kitchen is commercially-outfitted compliant with Health Department standards. In this kitchen I develop new recipes based on original ideas, inspirations from my culinary research, and most often according to what is in season.
On the farm, they make many gifts and specialty items. She is currently working on her first cookbook, but she also has a long resume developing recipes for several companies. She has also won several contests and cook-offs with her original recipes.