A Thanksgivukkah Feast

by Tori Avey October 31, 2013
 

 

By Tori Avey

As you probably already know, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will coincide this year for the first time since 1888. The two holidays will not meet again until tens of thousands of years from now. For American Jews, this represents a unique opportunity to celebrate two fabulous food holidays at the same time. They both revolve around family gatherings and classic holiday foods.

 

Deep Fried Turkey

Most American families wouldn’t dream of celebrating Thanksgiving without a turkey. We usually roast or smoke ours, but with this year’s Thanksgivukkah celebration, deep frying seemed a more fitting way to go (after all, fried foods are traditional for Hanukkah). A turkey can be fried in less than an hour, giving you more time to spend with guests. Just make sure you follow your manufacturer’s instructions and all safety precautions.

 

You will need:

10-12 lb thawed turkey (do not exceed 12 lbs), brined or injected if you like, no stuffing

Turkey fryer – a large metal tub with propane gas burner specially designed for frying turkeys

Propane tank with fuel

35-lb. jug of peanut oil (double check with your guests for nut allergies; corn oil can be substitued if anyone is allergic)

Oven mitts

Non-electric probe thermometer

Sheet tray

Salt

Cayenne pepper

 

Frying a turkey can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your fryer’s instructions before you get started, and always have a fire extinguisher handy. Never set up your deep fryer indoors, under trees or near children or pets. Choose a flat outdoor surface free of debris; if the weather is rainy, make sure the area has shelter.

The amount of oil you will need can be determined by placing the turkey into the empty deep fryer and covering it with oil. Stop when the turkey is fully submerged, then remove the turkey from the deep fryer.

Begin heating your oil. Your deep fryer should come with a probe thermometer that clips to the top of the fryer pot. If not, you will need to purchase one. Monitor the thermometer until the oil reaches 325degrees.

While the oil is heating, prepare your turkey for deep frying by first patting it dry with a clean towel or paper towels (liquid and hot oil don’t mix!). Sprinkle the skin generously with salt and cayenne pepper. Place the turkey legs down onto the poultry rack that comes with your fryer; secure and truss with twine, if desired.

Once your oil has reached 325degrees, turn off the flame and gas. Wearing oven mitts, very slowly lower the poultry rack into the hot oil using the metal lift hook. This process should take about one full minute. Don’t submerge the turkey too quickly, or the oil may sputter and boil over. Use caution to avoid getting burned.

Once the turkey is fully submerged in the oil and the poultry rack is sitting on the bottom of the deep fryer, remove the lift hook. Re-light the deep fryer and let the oil temperature raise to 350degrees. Do not leave the turkey unattended while deep frying. Fry for 3-5 minutes per pound of turkey. (I usually begin checking a 12-lb turkey at around 35 minutes.)

When you’re ready to check the turkey, turn off the flame and gas. Have a sheet tray nearby. Wearing oven mitts, use the lift hook to remove the turkey from the hot oil. Place the turkey onto the sheet tray. Immediately test the temperature using a probe thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast. Ideally, your turkey should be at 160degrees when it first comes out of the fryer. As the turkey rests, the internal temperature should rise to a temperature that is safe for consumption (at least 165degrees in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast). If your turkey does not reach 165degrees, immediately return the turkey to the hot oil for additional cooking until it comes to temperature.

Once your turkey has finished cooking, allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes. Carve and serve.

 

Sweet Potato Latkes

These Sweet Potato Latkes are lightly spiced with cinnamon and a hint of curry. They’re positively scrumptious! Sprinkle them with a touch of salt for a sweet and savory treat.

 

Ingredients

2 ½ lbs sweet potatoes

1 cup panko-style breadcrumbs

1 tbsp potato starch

3 eggs, beaten

1 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp curry powder

Grapeseed oil for frying

Makes 18 latkes

Kosher Key: Pareve

 

Before you begin making the latkes, set up a wire cooling rack with a layer of paper towels beneath it to catch excess oil. Peel the potatoes, then grate them using a hand grater or food processor shredding attachment with fine holes. Place potato shreds in the center of a clean tea towel or multiple layers of cheesecloth. Wrap the shreds up in the cloth, twisting the cloth to secure the bundle, and squeeze firmly to remove excess liquid from the shreds. Pour shreds into a bowl. Use a fork to stir the panko breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, potato starch, 1 tsp salt, cinnamon and curry powder into the potato shreds. Take care to make sure the egg and seasonings are fully mixed throughout the potato shreds. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.

While potato mixture rests, pour oil into skillet to a depth of 1/8 inch. Heat slowly over medium heat until the oil reaches 365degrees. For each latke, measure out ¼ cup of the potato mixture and shape it into a tightly compacted disk. Place the disk carefully into the hot oil. Latkes can break apart at this point; they’re very delicate. If you can get them into the hot oil in one piece, chances are they will stick together – frying them is like the “glue” that holds them together. It takes a gentle touch, and it may take you some practice to get the feel for it. The oil should sizzle but not pop when the latke hits it; if the oil jumps wildly or smokes, it is too hot. If it only bubbles weakly, the oil is not hot enough. Use the first latke to test the oil temperature, and don’t fry a whole batch until the temperature is right.

Fry in batches of 4-5 latkes at a time (no more than that, don’t crowd the pan) for 2-3 minutes per side until brown and crispy. Note: if your latkes aren’t holding together, stir more potato starch into the mixture, 2 teaspoons at a time, until the batter “holds.” You can also add another egg to the mixture and more panko, if needed.

Remove the latkes from the pan using a metal spatula and place them on a wire cooling rack to drain. Sprinkle with additional salt, if desired. I recommend serving latkes fresh within 10 minutes of frying them, if your cooking schedule permits. If you need to make them ahead, fry them 4 hours or less before serving. After letting the latkes drain on the wire cooling rack, place them on an ungreased, unlined cookie sheet. Leave them at room temperature until ready to reheat. Place in a 375degree oven for about 10 minutes (7 if using a convection oven) until heated through, just prior to serving.

Pumpkin Challah

This recipe is the result of a baking experiment where I added pumpkin puree and spices to my favorite challah. It’s since become one of my most popular recipes. It’s sweet but not overly so, and makes a unique and beautiful addition to the Thanksgivukkah table. Top it with melted butter and honey for extra deliciousness. And here’s the best part: it makes incredible french toast!

 

Ingredients

2 packages active dry yeast

1 cup lukewarm water, divided

3 tbsp white sugar

1 egg (white and yolk)

6 egg yolks

¼ cup honey

2 tbsp canola oil, plus more for greasing bowl

2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

¼ tsp ginger

Pinch of cloves

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)

7-9 cups all-purpose baking flour

2 egg yolks + 1 tbsp water for egg wash

Makes 2 large challot

Kosher Key: Pareve

Pour ½ cup of the lukewarm water (about 110 degrees) into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 packets of active dry yeast and 1 tbsp of sugar to the bowl, stir to dissolve. Wait 10 minutes. The yeast should have activated, meaning it will look expanded and foamy. If it doesn’t, your yeast may have expired, which means your bread won’t rise.

Once your yeast has activated, add remaining ½ cup lukewarm water to the bowl along with the rest of the sugar, 1 egg, 6 egg yolks, honey, canola oil, salt and spices. Use a whisk to thoroughly blend the ingredients together. Whisk in the brown sugar and pumpkin puree to form a thick liquid.

Begin adding the flour to the bowl 1/2 cup at a time, stirring with a large spoon each time flour is added. When mixture becomes too thick to stir, use your hands to knead. Continue to add flour and knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic, and not sticky. The amount of flour you will need to achieve this texture varies; only add flour until the dough feels pliable and “right.”

Place a saucepan full of water on the stove to boil. Meanwhile, remove the dough from your mixing bowl and wash out the bowl. Grease the bowl with oil. Push the dough back into the bottom of the bowl, then flip it over so that both sides are slightly moistened by the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Place the bowl of dough on the middle rack of your oven. Take the saucepan full of boiling water and place it below the rack where your dough sits. Close the oven, but do not turn it on. The pan of hot water will create a warm, moist environment for your dough to rise. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.

Take the dough out of the bowl and punch it down several times to remove air pockets. Place it back inside the oven and let it rise for 1 more hour.

Take the dough out of the oven. Very lightly flour a smooth surface like a cutting board. Punch the dough down into the bowl a few times, then turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Knead for a few minutes, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from feeling sticky (it may not need any additional flour).

Now your dough is ready to braid. If you plan to separate and bless the challah, do it prior to braiding. Separate the dough into two equal portions; each portion of dough will be enough for a large loaf of challah. Braiding tutorials can be found on theshiksa.com.

After you’ve braided your challah loaves, place them on two separate cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Prepare your egg wash by beating 2 egg yolks and 1 tbsp water until smooth. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of egg wash onto the visible surface of your challah.

Take out the saucepan of water and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the loaves rise 30 to 45 minutes longer. You’ll know the dough is ready to bake when you press your finger into the dough and the indentation stays, rather than bouncing back.

The loaves will need to bake for about 40 minutes total, but to get the best result the baking should be done in stages. First, set your timer to 20 minutes and put your challah in the oven.

After 20 minutes, take the challah out of the oven. Turn the tray around, so the opposite side is facing front, and put the tray back into the oven. Turning the tray helps your challah brown evenly, since the back of the oven is usually hotter than the front.

The challah will need to bake for about 20 minutes longer. For this last part of the baking process, keep an eye on your challah – it may be browning faster than it’s baking. Once the challah is browned to your liking, take the tray out and tent it with foil, then place it back in the oven. Remove the foil for the last 2 minutes of baking time.

Take the challah out of the oven. You can test the bread for doneness by turning it over and tapping on the bottom of the loaf. If it makes a hollow sound, it’s done. Let challah cool on a baking sheet or a wire cooling rack before serving.

 

Kale, Pear and Cranberry Salad

This salad makes healthy eating a pleasure, not an obligation. I like to massage raw kale before serving; the massage helps to make the kale more tender and eliminates the bitterness from the leaves. Topped with seasonal pears, dried cranberries and toasted pine nuts, this salad offers a nice healthy balance to the heavier foods we serve during the holiday season.

 

Ingredients

1/3 cup raw pine nuts or unsalted raw sunflower seeds

1 bunch (about 10 oz.) kale

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 red bartlett pear diced into 1/2 inch cubes

1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries

¼ tsp salt, or more to taste

Serves 8

Kosher Key: Pareve

 

Toast the pine nuts or seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Watch them carefully, they can easily go from brown to burned if you’re not careful. As soon as they’re toasted, remove them from the hot skillet to keep them from browning further.

If your dried cranberries are very dry and not soft, you can soak them in hot water for 5 minutes to plump and revive them. Drain the cranberries and pat dry before assembling the salad.

Cut the thick stalk ends off of the kale, then chop the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. You should end up with around 8-10 cups of leaves. Place the kale leaves into a salad bowl and pour the olive oil over them. Massage the olive oil into the kale with clean fingers for 2-3 minutes until the kale is softened and slightly wilted. Add the lemon juice, diced pear, cranberries, and toasted pine nuts to the bowl and sprinkle the salt evenly across the top. Toss the salad until well mixed.

Let the salad sit for at least 5 minutes at room temperature. Toss again, then serve. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed dish for up to 2 days.

 

Thanksgiving Cider Sangria

I love the warm flavor of spiced apple cider; it’s like autumn served up in a glass. When combined with pears, grapes and red wine it becomes truly special, and definitely worth serving alongside your Thanksgivukkah feast.

Ingredients

4 ½ cups apple cider (non alcoholic)

2 tbsp sugar

6 whole cloves

4 cinnamon sticks

4 allspice berries

1 apple, cored and sliced thin

1 red bartlett pear, cored and sliced thin

12 oz. seedless grapes

1 bottle red wine – Shiraz and Syrah work well

1/2 cup Cointreau or triple sec

¼ cup brandy

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Serves 8-10

Kosher Key: Pareve

 

In a small saucepan, whisk together the apple cider and sugar over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and allspice berries. Bring the mixture to a boil. Let it simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the cider.

Place the sliced fruit and grapes into the bottom of a sangria pitcher. Pour in the strained cider, red wine, Cointreau or triple sec, brandy, and vanilla. Stir.

Chill the sangria for at least 3 hours, up to overnight. Stir again before serving. Pour sangria and a few pieces of fruit into each glass.

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