150 years ago, America established its first all-state Thanksgiving holiday. In commemoration we asked our favourite chefs how to cook the best Anglo-American Thanksgiving feast
Words: Lizzie Pook
It’s an invasion of sorts – but a welcome one – hurtling towards us from across the Atlantic. For years we’ve watched goggle-eyed and green with envy as our favourite American TV characters stuff themselves with plates of yams, macaroni cheese and turkey in November (who could forget the Friends episode where Joey ends up with a turkey stuck on his head). But now, it seems, the borrowed tradition of Thanksgiving – held each November, honouring the country’s early settlers and the harvest feast they shared with the native Americans – is making its way over to the UK and firmly onto our own dinner tables.
We’ve already experienced an American takeover of our restaurant scene. Meat Liquor redefined the notion of the dirty diner; Pitt Cue Co brought pulled pork into the hearts and bellies of many a foodie; and Bubble Dogs revolutionised the way we eat sausages in buns. And now our supermarkets are filling with Thanksgiving fare. Head to Partridges in Sloane Square (partridges.co.uk) for the biggest selection, including corn syrup, tinned yams and pumpkin pie. Restaurants like The Breakfast Club (thebreakfastclubcafes.com), The Big Easy (bigeasy.co.uk) and Edinburgh’s Calistoga (calistoga.co.uk) are offering Thanksgiving menus; and the UK’s finest chefs, including Andy Cook at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill will be pulling out all the stops for their take on quintessential US fare.
“The power that Thanksgiving holds to draw people around a table to eat foods they wouldn’t normally consume cannot be understated,” says UK-based American chef Brad McDonald. “It’s a pomp-filled feast; a massive spread of turkey, ham, dumplings, creamed corn, green bean casserole, mac and cheese, fresh baked breads and an innumerable number of pies, cakes, and cookies.”
So in keeping with the occasion, ‘Thank you’ to the fantastic chefs who provided the following recipes for the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. All with a British twist, of course.
Velouté of Potimarron pumpkin with roast chestnuts and British ceps
From A Cookbook De Luxe, by Jeff & Chris Galvin (Absolute Publishing, £25); galvinrestaurants.co.uk
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 400g Potimarron pumpkin (or onion squash) in 3cm chunks
- 100ml olive oil
- 70g unsalted butter
- ¼ Spanish onion, finely diced
- 700ml chicken stock
- 200ml milk
- Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 2 large fresh ceps
- 12 chestnuts, roasted and peeled
- 1 tbsn chopped curly parsley
- 2 tsps pumpkin seed oil
step 1 Put the pumpkin on a baking tray and roll it in the olive oil. Place in an oven preheated to 160°C/Gas Mark 3 and bake for one hour. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sweat the onion for five minutes. Add the pumpkin and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat and add milk.
step 2 Purée the mixture in a blender, pass through a sieve into a clean pan, reheat and season with salt and pepper. Clean any dirt from the ceps, give them a rinse in cold water. Trim 1cm off the stalks, then cut into slices. Cut the chestnuts into quarters.
step 3 Heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan, add the ceps and sauté over a high heat until golden. Season and add the chestnuts, then add the chopped parsley. To serve, pour the soup into bowls, spoon the ceps and chestnuts on top and finish with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil.
British roast turkey with lemon, parsley and garlic
From Christmas With Gordon, by Gordon Ramsay (Quadrille, £15)
Ingredients (serves 8–10)
- 1 free-range turkey (ideally Norfolk Black or Bronze), about 5–5.5kg
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 onions, peeled and halved
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
- 6 bay leaves
- Olive oil, to drizzle
- 8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
For the herb butter:
- 375g butter, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Finely grated zest and juice of 2 small lemons
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
step 1 Preheat the oven to 220°C/ Gas Mark 7. Meanwhile, prepare the herb butter. Put the butter into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and mix well. Add the lemon zest and juice, crushed garlic and chopped parsley. Mix well to combine.
step 2 Remove the giblets from the turkey cavity. Season the cavity then stuff with the onions, lemon, garlic halves and two bay leaves.
step 3 With your hands, loosen the skin on the breast from both ends of the bird, making sure you keep the skin intact. Repeat with skin on the legs.
step 4 Stuff half the butter mix under the skin making sure that the meat is evenly covered. Finally, insert the rest of the bay leaves under the skin of the breasts.
step 5 Place the bird in a large roasting tray breast side up. Spread the rest of the butter over the skin. Season well with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil.
step 6 Roast the turkey for 10-15 minutes. Take out of the oven, baste the bird with the pan juices and lay the bacon rashers over the breast. Baste again. Lower the setting to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and cook for about 2½ hours (30 minutes per kg), basting occasionally.
step 7 To test whether your turkey is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the leg and check that the juices are running clear. Check your turkey about 30 minutes before the calculated roasting time. If the juices are pink, roast for another 15 minutes and check again. Repeat as necessary until cooked.
step 8 Place turkey on a warmed platter. Leave the turkey to rest under foil for at least 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaves before carving. Serve with hot gravy and stuffing.
Sprouts wrapped with British pancetta
From Marcus Wareing of The Gilbert Scott restaurant at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel; thegilbertscott.co.uk
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 200g Brussels sprouts, stalk trimmed and outer leaves peeled
- 100g pancetta slices
- 2 tbsps of vegetable oil
step 1 Bring a medium-sized pan of salted water to the boil. Add the sprouts and cook for one minute. Remove, strain and place in iced water until cool (approximately five minutes). Drain well and pat dry.
step 2 Wrap each sprout in the pancetta and set aside. Heat a large frying pan with two tablespoons of vegetable oil. When hot, add the sprouts. Brown well then drain on absorbent paper. Serve while hot.
Potato and black pudding dauphinoise
From Richard O’Connell, head chef at The Jugged Hare; thejuggedhare.com
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
- 1 kg potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1cm thick slices
- 500g of sweet potato, peeled and sliced into 1cm thick slices
- 250g black pudding, sliced into 1cm thick slices
- 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 600ml double cream
- 75g cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 small bunch of thyme, leaves picked, no stalks
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
step 1 Preheat your oven to 180°C/ Gas Mark 4.
step 2 Place the potatoes, sweet potato, black pudding slices and onion into an earthenware baking dish, layering them nicely.
step 3 Mix the cream with ¾ of the cheese, ¾ of the thyme and the garlic. Season, then pour the mixture over the layers and leave it to settle in.
step 4 Sprinkle the remaining cheese, and bake for 50 minutes, or until tender and golden. Use a sharp small knife to test for any hardness and sprinkle over the remaining chopped thyme before serving.
Anglo-American pecan-plus pie
From Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends, Festivities (Chatto & Windus, £26)
Ingredients (Makes approximately 12 slices)
- 225g plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 125g vegetable oil
- 60ml full fat milk
- 150g golden syrup
- 100g soft butter
- 200g soft light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 350g mixed nuts
step 1 Preheat your oven to 180°C/ Gas Mark 4. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, oil and milk to form a rough dough.
step 2 Put the dough in a 25cm/10in diameter flan dish, and patiently press the dough over the base and the sides of the dish, slightly coming up over the top if possible. Put in the freezer.
step 3 Melt the syrup, butter and brown sugar over a lowish heat in a saucepan. Add the vanilla, stir, then take off the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes.
step 4 Take the pastry-lined flan dish out of the freezer, and arrange the nuts on it.
step 5 Whisk the eggs into the slightly cooled sugary syrup until it looks like a caramel mixture, then pour it over the nuts.
step 6 Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the filling has set and the pastry is golden. Save stress on Thanksgiving Thursday by making two days in advance and keeping in an air-tight container.