An American Greek Thanksgiving

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The fact that I am American and that both myself and my husband enjoy cooking, each year it was our home that hosted a Thanksgiving dinner.

Every year the fourth Thursday of the month, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a holiday commemorating the harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims, our first settlers, in 1621. In Canada they celebrate a similar holiday the second Monday in October.   This celebration today, is an expression of gratitude. And, the traditional food is…. turkey.

We all know that Greeks love celebrations, especially those that revolve around food!   So, each year, we prepare a large dinner for our American friends here in Athens, as well as our Greek parea (circle of friends) and family.

greek_thanksgiving

We all gather for food…and American Football. (Nick became a fan of American football when he studied in the USA)

I remember the first year that I prepared a turkey in Greece. I ordered the bird from the butcher and was flabbergasted when I picked it up and it still had feathers and feet! I can remember how I couldn’t fit it into my oven. My Mother-in-law was snickering inside when she showed me how to snap the legs in order to roast it. By the second year, I learnt that there are wonderful fresh turkeys that I was able to get from the American Farm School. These Turkeys were more the style of those I remembered in America.   http://afs.edu.gr/page/default.asp?la=2&id=66

As we had to be one of the few tables on Thanksgiving that the main language spoken at the table was Greek—we had to be sure to accommodate the Greek palate as well. This is our recipe that we used that keep the American flavor, but added a little Greek flavor.

Along with the turkey and stuffing, we were sure to add side dishes that added to both cuisines—On our table you would find spanakopita, Greek salad, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, creamed corn, roasted potatoes with Greek herbs and feta, corn bread, olive bread, gravy sauce and cut lemon…..a mixture of the best of it all!!!

 

 Nick and Nicky’s Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

“A Greek and American Turkey”

 

Turkey

  • 1 (18 pound/8-9 kilos) whole turkey
  • (Adjust all ingredients and cooking times to turkey size)
  • 2 cups kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

Stuffing

2 loafs bread for stuffing (8 cups)
1 or 2 beaten eggs
2 onions diced
¼ cup dried cranberries
1/8-cup pine nuts (or roasted chestnuts)
¼ cup cut up apple
Rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper
Broth, chicken or turkey
Melted butter
Pinch of cinnamon and allspice

 

Glaze for Basting

Honey
Pomegranate syrup or juice
Orange juice
Touch of Red wine
Olive oil
Oregano, Pinch of Anise, Pinch of mustard powder
Melted Butter

 

The Night Before

1.  Remove all giblets and neck from bird

2.  Rub the turkey inside and out with the kosher salt.  Place the bird in a large stockpot, and cover with cold water.  Place in the refrigerator, and all the turkey to soak in the salt in the salt and water mixture 12 hours, or overnight.

3.  Cut stuffing bread in to 2.5 cm (1″) cubes.  Spread cubes on table o r baking pan and allow to dry at least overnight.  (If you need to speed up the process – toast in a barely warm oven until dried out).

 

Thanksgiving Day 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Thoroughly rinse the turkey, and discard the salt brine mixtures.

2.  Sauté onion in butter.

3.  Gather bread cubes into a very large bowl and toss to coat with broth, melted butter, beaten egg, sautéed onions, cranberries, nuts, apple and spices. Use enough broth, egg and butter so that bread is moist enough to stick together when gripped in hand, but not wet.  Put aside.

4.  Brush the turkey with 1/2 melted butter.  Place breast side down on a roasting rack ina shallow roasting pan.  Stuff the turkey cavity with the stuffing mix.

5.  Flip turkey over and tie up the cavity.  You an also stuff the neck.

6.  Roast uncovered approximately 4 hours in the preheated oven, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F (85 degrees C)

7.  For safe cooking and serving of turkey – please refer to a website such as the one here:  http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/types/turkey/

8.  Prepare glaze by mixing all glaze ingredients together to taste. During the last 1 and ½ hours of cooking baste with glaze. Do not use the same glaze on cooked turkey. For basting after cooking have a second batch to avoid any contamination.

9.  Allow the bird to stand about 30 minutes before carving.

10.  Make gravy from turkey drippings. Place fat dripping from roasted turkey pan into a aucepan and cook on top of stove. Add flour to thicken and salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

 

 

Nicolas and Nicolette Kounelis are the husband and wife team who created the blog “The Adventures of Nick and Nicky”. Read more on our About Us page!

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