The third stop in The Meat-ting Place’s Around the World Series is the USA where Americans are planning and preparing for Thanksgiving dinner.
Each year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans gather for a day of feasting, football and family. Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Thanksgiving was also celebrated nationally in 1789, after a proclamation by George Washington.
As a federal and public holiday in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. Together with Christmas and New Year, Thanksgiving is a part of the broader holiday season.
The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. This feast lasted three days, and it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.
U.S. tradition compares the holiday with a meal held in 1621 by the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is continued in modern times with the Thanksgiving dinner, traditionally featuring turkey, playing a central role in the celebration of Thanksgiving.
In the United States, certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving meals. Firstly, baked or roasted turkey is usually the featured item on any Thanksgiving feast table (so much so that Thanksgiving is sometimes referred to as “Turkey Day”). Stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet corn, various fall vegetables, and pumpkin pie are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner. Green bean casserole was introduced in 1955 and remains a favourite.
As a result of the size of Thanksgiving dinner, Americans eat more food on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year.
Celebrate Thanksgiving at home with these delicious recipes:
A Simply Perfect Roast Turkey
1 whole turkey (8kg)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1.4L turkey stock
8 cups prepared stuffing
Preheat oven to 165 degrees C. Place rack in the lowest position of the oven.
Remove the turkey neck and giblets, rinse the turkey, and pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan. Loosely fill the body cavity with stuffing. Rub the skin with the softened butter, and season with salt and pepper. Position an aluminium foil tent over the turkey.
Place turkey in the oven, and pour 2 cups turkey stock into the bottom of the roasting pan. Baste all over every 30 minutes with the juices on the bottom of the pan. Whenever the drippings evaporate, add stock to moisten them, about 1 to 2 cups at a time. Remove aluminium foil after 2 1/2 hours. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh reads 80 degrees C, about 4 hours.
Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter, and let it stand for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole
4 cups sweet potato, cubed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 165 degrees C. Put sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with water to cover. Cook over medium high heat until tender; drain and mash.
In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish.
In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.
Homemade Fresh Pumpkin Pie
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
3 1/2 tablespoons cold water
2 cups mashed, cooked pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
Prepare pie crust by mixing together the flour and salt. Cut shortening into flour; add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time (you may need only 3 tablespoons, or up to 4 tablespoons). Mix dough and repeat until dough is moist enough to hold together.
With lightly floured hands shape dough into a ball. On a lightly floured board roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness. With a sharp knife, cut dough 1 1/2 inch larger than the upside-down 8- to 9-inch pie pan. Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer it right-side up onto the pie pan. Unroll, easing dough into the bottom of the pie pan.
In a large bowl, beat pumpkin with evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt with an electric mixer or immersion blender. Mix well. Pour into a prepared crust. Bake 40 minutes or until when a knife is inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean.