For Thanksgiving, the question for many remains. Are you cooking this holiday or not? Perhaps the better question is: How much of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner do you plan on cook yourself?
With over-extended schedules, cooking anything, let alone Thanksgiving dinner has become an overwhelming task. Thankfully there's help. If you can’t or don't have time to cook, or just don't want to cook, hire it done.
Chefs, caterers and grocers have taken note and are ready to provide the elements of a Turkey Day dinner for the time-crunched, weary and/or culinary challenged.
“People don’t have the time to cook like they used to,” said Joe Weinmann, co-owner of Kenrick’s Meats and Catering who explained how he offers his customers a variety of options. “We provide turkeys already in the baking pan people can bake themselves as well as all birds already cooked and carved. We also have everything to go with it from sides to pies.”
Ordering the turkey already roasted with a quart of gravy has become a winning strategy for countless cooks who need to free up time and oven space. Because most of a family’s Thanksgiving traditions revolve abound the sides, having the turkey done by your caterer or favorite chef frees up time for you to make those family must-haves such as grandma’s sage dressing or your mother’s candied sweet potatoes. It’s a win-win scenario or what I call a culinary co-op since you get to have and eat your turkey along with your own home cooked side dishes.
For those who simply want to set the table and fill the platter and bowls, basic dinner packages are available at most grocery stores. Just check the deli department. However, to indulge in the ultimate turkey-to-go with all the trimmings befitting being served on mother’s fine china and silver, call the Four Seasons Hotel, 999 N. 2nd St., downtown, and experience its Five Diamond Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Cielo’s Restaurant Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi and Chef Marc Kusche.
"All you have to do is set the table and we’ll do all the rest,” said Fabrizio. “There’s turkey and all the trimmings, fresh-baked breads and pies—even a green bean casserole that I’ve made Italian-style.”
The clock is ticking and as each minute passes, turkeys are becoming scarcer. Plan now and order up, with or without the trimmings. Otherwise, you may have to settle for leftovers.
Take-Out Thanksgiving choices:
Offers roasted whole turkeys to spiral-cut smoked turkey breasts. Prices and meals vary. Featured pre-set menu of turkey, dressing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy serving 8-10 is $69.99 www.dierbergs.com
Kenrick's Meats and Catering
Offers fresh turkeys ready to bake at home along with baked, smoked and deep-fried turkeys. Kenrick's is one of the few meat markets that make Tur-Duc-en, a boned and stuffed chicken inside a duck that’s inside a turkey filled with dressing. Prices and meal combinations vary and are priced per person starting at $8.99 (15-25 person count). www.Kenricks.com
Cielo Restaurant and Bar, 999 North 2nd Street, St. Louis
The ultimate Thanksgiving Day feat designed for gourmets and gourmands includes: A custom brined whole roasted turkey, foccacia sausage stuffing, giblet gravy, roasted sweet potato puree, whipped potatoes, Italian-style green bean casserole, fresh bread and choice of two pies. Serves 10 with leftovers. Price, $295. www.cielostlouis.com
If you've ordered your turkey and pies to go, but still want to cook a few side dishes of your own, consider adding one the following quick-fix Thanksgiving recipes. Each was featured in my Thanksgiving Sides and Pies class presented a few years ago at Dierberg’s School of Cooking.
Colonial Chestnut Stuffing
- 2 pounds fresh chestnuts
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 12 tablespoons. butter
- 6 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 2 onions, chopped fine
- 10 cups fresh bread cubes
- 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoons. dried thyme
- 1 Tablespoons dried sage
- salt and pepper to taste
Cut an X through the shell on the flat side of each chestnut. Drop the chestnuts in a large pan of boiling water and cook for five minutes, Drain. Remove from shells while chestnuts are still hot. Cut shelled chestnuts in half and place in s medium saucepan with the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer five minutes. Drain, reserving broth.
In a large saucepan melt the butter and sauté the onion and celery with 1 1/2 cups of reserved stock. Cook until onion is tender; pour into a large mixing bowl. Mix in bread, spices and chestnuts. Stir in remaining stock. If stuffing is dry add a little more stock. Spoon stuffing into a buttered baking dish, covered with a piece of buttered foil and bake at 400 ° until heated through, about 25 minutes. Makes 8 – 10 servings
Cranberries in Red Wine
- 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- peel of 1 orange, finely chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick
Combine all the above ingredients together in a saucepan and cook until thickened and berries pop. Takes about 25 –30 minutes. Remove from heat and chill. Makes 6-8 servings.
Quick Butter Herb Muffins
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 8-ounces sour cream
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Tablespoon fresh-minced chives
Stir together flour, sour cream, butter and herbs until just blended. Spoon into lightly greased mini muffin tins - filling tins to top.
Bake muffins in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen. Makes 6 - 8 servings