Thanksgiving is a time when Americans gather with family and friends, giving thanks for the many blessings received throughout the year. Yet wherever you hail from, the holiday is also a great excuse to serve up a fantastic feast.
Of course, living in Beijing can present a challenge when it comes to finding the right ingredients for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and the main course – a.k.a. the turkey – is often the trickiest part of all. But rest assured that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Consider the example of my mother. When I was growing up in Germany, Mom once talked to all the local farmers until she found one that could sell us a bountiful bird. When the turkey arrived on the day before Thanksgiving, it was far too big to fit in the oven. Nevertheless, my parents were committed to providing their kids with an authentic Thanksgiving experience, so they stayed up all night building an addition to the oven that would allow them to cook the entire bird. It was an ungainly contraption, but it got the job done, and the end result was a sight to behold!
For those of us who lack the skills to build an oven extension, there are still many wonderful ways to prepare turkey. This recipe works both for an oven (both a conventional one and a toaster oven) and for a pan. Plus, the pan version uses a roll form appropriately reminiscent of Peking duck. The cranberry sauce and green beans also add a Chinese touch that will make the meal especially memorable. Finally, nothing says fall in Beijing like the smell of roasted sweet potatoes, and as a mashed potato dish, they’re positively transcendent.
Stuffing-Filled Turkey Rolls 火鸡卷
Serves 4-6 四至六人份
Turkey breasts, two pounds
For the stuffing 馅料:
1 loaf (ca. 1 pound) of day-old baguette, cut into small cubes 只摆了一天的法式长棍（一磅左右）一根，切成小丁
1 cup chestnuts 板栗一杯
1/2 cup bacon 培根半杯
1 medium onion, chopped 中号洋葱一个，切碎
1/2 tsp salt 盐半茶匙
1/4 tsp of pepper 胡椒粉¼茶匙
2 eggs 鸡蛋两个
1/4 cup whole milk 全脂牛奶¼杯
For the gravy 卤汁:
2 tbsp butter 黄油两大勺
1 tsp flour 面粉一茶匙
1 can chicken or vegetable broth鸡汤或蔬菜汤一罐
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Melt the margarine in a large pan or wok over medium heat, add the bacon and sauté until cooked. Add the chestnuts, onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional five minutes. Mix with the bread and transfer to a baking dish. In a dish, beat together the eggs and milk, and drizzle over the bread mixture. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until crisp on top and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Slice the turkey breast lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Using a rolling pin, pound the turkey until it is flat. Add two tablespoons of stuffing to each piece and roll it into a thick roll. Secure the shape with a toothpick. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until done. If you don’t have an oven, you can cook it in a saucepan with some butter.
When the turkey is finished, set is aside on the serving platter and add two tablespoons of butter to the dish. Once the butter is melted, add one teaspoon of flour, whisk until it forms a paste, add one cup of chicken broth, and cook until it forms a gravy. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Drizzle some over the turkey, and set the rest aside in a gravy boat.
Caramel Cranberry Sauce 焦糖蔓越莓汁
Serves 4-6 四至六人份
1/2 cup of butter 黄油半块
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries 新鲜蔓越莓（冷冻也可）两杯
1 cup brown or white sugar 红（白）糖一杯
1 cup orange juice 橙汁一杯
Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Slowly stir in the sugar and whisk until it is dissolved and starts to brown and smell sweet. Carefully and slowly pour the orange juice into the sugar mixture, while continuing to stir. It may foam unexpectedly, so you may want to do this without children in the kitchen! Once this sauce is ready, add the fresh cranberries and cook for 15 minutes over a medium-high heat, until the cranberries pop. If you are using thawed cranberries, cook them for 20 minutes.
Chinese-style Green Beans 中国四季豆
Serves 4-6 四至六人份
2 pounds green beans 四季豆两磅
1 cup salt 盐一杯
3 tablespoons oil 油三勺
1 red onion, sliced 红洋葱一个，切片
Wash and dry the green beans and set them on a large plate or pan. Cover them with salt and allow them to sit for at least four hours. Once the water has drained from the beans, wash them twice to remove all the salt. Next, dry them and set them aside. In a large wok, heat the oil and add the green beans. Cook until they are fragrant and begin to blister a little, before setting them aside. In the same pan, cook the red onions over a medium-high heat until they begin to brown and turn sweet. Pour the onions over the green beans and serve.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes 红薯泥
Serves 4-6 四至六人份
3 pounds sweet potatoes, washed and cut into 2cm cubes 红薯三磅，洗净切成两厘米左右小块
3 tbsp olive oil 橄榄油三茶匙
1 tsp of crushed or chopped rosemary (optional) 迷迭香一茶匙（可选）
Salt to flavor 盐适量
1/2 cup whole milk 全脂牛奶半杯
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add a little salt, mix them around, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for one hour, or until the potatoes are tender. Let them cool for fifteen minutes, then use a fork to smash the potatoes. Add them back to the bowl and whisk in the milk.
Jennifer Thomé loves food. Born in Germany, Jennifer spent her youth roaming her grandmother’s garden in search of new and delicious things to eat – a search she continues since moving to China. When she’s not busy running Agenda magazine, you’ll find her chopping and stirring away in her kitchen.