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Your Best Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Ever

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Thanksgiving is such an emotional holiday for Americans. We have a national myth built around gathering with friends and family to play or watch football, start the holiday shopping season and oh yes, eat, eat, eat!

Talk about pressure!

For too many celiacs, Thanksgiving is the start of the most stressful season of the year. Heavily laden holiday tables can be a minefield, with gluten hidden everywhere. It doesn't have to be that way. I have been joining or hosting Thanksgiving dinners for more than 20 years as a celiac. Here are a few of my go-to recipes that you can enjoy at home or bring along to someone else's house.

Bacon-wrapped Turkey

OMG this turkey is delicious! And it's so easy. You need a turkey, bacon, lemon, onion, butter and your favorite herbs (I like sage, garlic, and thyme). And you have to be willing to get your hands dirty.

First, stuff the turkey with a lemon and an onion cut into big chunks. Push in some coarsely chopped herbs too. Then soften the butter push it, along with more of the coarsely chopped herbs, under the skin all over the bird. Yup, push your fingers under the skin and mush all that butter around. Trust me, it's fun.

Set the bird on a roasting rack in a pan. Cover the whole bird with strips of bacon; this keeps it moist without basting. Put about 1/2 inch of water or white wine and some more onion and lemon in the bottom of the pan. It will look like this:

Cover with aluminum foil and roast according to your normal roasting directions. When the turkey is done, take it out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes while you make the gravy. Not sure how tell if it's done? I like these directions from Butterball (they don't pay me to write that).

Gravy for the Turkey

Combine gluten-free chicken broth, more of the herbs used on the turkey (chopped finely this time), pan drippings, and sauteed shallots in a saucepan until they are hot. In a separate cup, whisk together 1 Tablespoon of corn starch and 1/4 cup of cold water, then pour that into the gravy and mix.

Slow Cooker Cornbread Stuffing

We all know about the risks of baking stuffing in the turkey - food poisoning from undercooked poultry is no fun. This one is easy to make and uses my favorite appliance, the slow cooker. I start it in the morning about 10 A.M. and we normally eat at 6 P.M., so it's cooking all day. If you don't have a slow cooker, just cook it on the stove over a low heat for a long time.

Use a mix of cornbread and white bread. I like to use Schär's ciabatta, and homemade cornbread. Tear both into big chunks - a couple of inches on a side is fine. Toss them in the slow cooker. I use a full batch of cornbread and 4 ciabatta and it serves 6 people several helpings with plenty left over. Add one finely chopped onion, 4-5 sticks of chopped celery, and a bunch each of coarsely chopped sage, parsley, thyme and garlic. Sometimes I add a diced fennel bulb, with the fronds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour in about 3 cups of chicken broth; you will add more as it cooks. Put the slow cooker on low and walk away. Check it every 2 hours, mixing well and adding more broth if it looks dry (it probably will). Keep cooking, mixing and adding broth until the chunks of bread are all broken up. Then just keep it warm till it's time to eat! if you like your celery crispy, add it about 45 minutes before dinner time so it can heat through.

Easy Tasty Gluten Free Veggies

Yup, ya gotta eat them, even on holidays. Here are two easy ones:

Green Bean Bacon Wraps . replace that heavy gunky casserole with these easy packets. Trim whole green beans to a uniform length. Wrap 4-5 beans at a time in a strip of bacon. arrange the packets on a cookie sheet and bake at 375˚F/190˚C for about 20 minutes until the bacon crisps. Serve. For an extra zing, put a thin slice of garlic inside the bacon.

Zingy Mustard Carrots Cut carrots into chunks, batons, or any shape you like - just keep them fairly thick, about 1/2 " (1 cm). Toss with a thin paste made of mustard, horseradish and chicken broth mixed together, until the carrots are coated. Bake at 375˚F/190˚C for 10-15 minutes if you like the carrots to have crunch, longer if you prefer them soft. This is super-flexible: use any kind of mustard you like. Sometimes I use maple syrup instead of horseradish to make them sweet rather than hot.

Thanksgiving Apple Crumble

In my house, apple kicks pumpkin's butt every time. So I make my apple crumble.

Mix apples, raisins (if you want them - not everyone does), 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch and ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom to taste. Dump it all in a glass or ceramic baking dish.

Then mix 3/4 cup rice flour, 1/8 cup sweet rice flour and 1/8 cup tapioca starch (or substitute 1 cup of your favorite gluten-free flour mix; this recipe is especially forgiving); 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 2 Tablespoons light oil (safflower or sunflower oils are nice); mix only until crumbly.

Spoon the crumbles in an even layer over the fruit. Bake at 350˚F/180˚C for 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling.

This is great alone, or with ice cream or whipped cream. And way better than pumpkin!

Enjoy your meal!

All of these recipes are simple and easy to do. And they come out delicious every time. I also posted a few more on Medium; see here.

Embrace Thanksgiving - and be grateful that you can have scrumptious, gluten-free food that is safe for you and delicious for everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


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