Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What to Eat BEFORE Thanksgiving

Meals that lead up to the feasts of Thanksgiving and Christmas have their own set of goals.  For us, pre-holiday meals should achieve these three plus taste fantastic:
  • We try to minimize starches and fats
  • We like to use canned-goods from the pantry and space-hogging foods from the fridge to make room for turkey and all the ingredients needed for holiday side dishes
  • We want our pre-holiday eating to be fast and easy
Fast and easy is really important as there is holiday preparation to do, work to wrap-up at the office, and holiday travel.  In our case, Thanksgiving is the time for our traditional pilgrimage from the New Jersey suburbs to the Oregon Coast.

So the Saturday before Thanksgiving we prepared dinner around a supermarket roast chicken and for added inspiration we thought: Mediterranean, Tagine, and Tabouli.

The dish we made was a savory chicken fricassee with sweet Vidalia onions, carrots, and canned chickpeas. This was a one-pot meal that was prepared and ready to serve in about 45 minutes.

We started by sautéing in a Dutch oven four medium-sized Vidalia onions in a few tablespoons of olive oil. While the onions were cooking, we peeled a pound of carrots and cut them into julienne strips, cooking them in chardonnay. 

To the onions, we added the cooked carrots, the carrot-wine pot liquor, and a can of chickpeas that were drained and rinsed.  We seasoned the dish with truffle salt and then added the cut and quartered roast chicken along with the lovely chicken juice.  The fricassee cooked in the Dutch oven for another fifteen minutes, which allowed all of the wonderful flavors to meld. 

The result was a savory fricassee with a depth of flavor that we did not expect from such a fast dish.  There was a distinct nutty flavor from the chickpeas, and great balance between the sweetness of the carrots and acidity of the wine.  The truffle salt brought all the flavors together with a wonderful umami taste that lingered on the tongue.  Sensational.

And this is just the lead-up to Thanksgiving!

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