Fresh Prep: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  For many of us, that means showing appreciation with family and friends in a celebration complete with the comforting indulgences of traditional foods: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, casseroles and pies.  Yum to it all, but for Charlotte Fresh, the turkey is totally where it’s at.

In anticipation of the Big Day, Charlotte Fresh has ordered a fresh turkey that is being raised by a local farmer.  I’m planning to visit my turkey next week and will report back on how it’s looking!  I’ve had friends implore me not to name my turkey before I eat it.  Name or not, I’m going to enjoy it anyway, and it will be great to know how it was raised and that I trust the person who raised it to put the effort into doing things right.

If you were hoping for a fresh turkey for your feast, orders from local farms started at least a month ago and may be closed out.  You can try to inquire if some remain unspoken for, or see if there is a wait-list at these farms:

If you can’t get a fresh bird directly from a local farm this year, Earth Fare and Healthy Home Market will offer fresh turkeys for pre-order, but they may not be locally raised.  Earth Fare Ballantyne’s meat department representative told me today that they won’t be able to confirm the farm where this year’s turkeys will come from until at least the end of this week. In a call to Healthy Home Market on Independence Blvd., a representative shared that their all-natural fresh turkeys will be coming from Great Harvest in Pennsylvania. (HHM will also have frozen all-natural turkeys from Ashley Farms in Winston-Salem.)

Remember, too, that beef roasts, pork roasts and roasted chicken make nice alternatives to turkey for the holidays and can be readily available from many local farmers at your local farmers markets, including Baucom’s Best, Proffitt Family Farms, Poplin Farms, Grateful Growers Farm, and Gilcrest Natural Farm.  You’ll want to put your orders in early for great holiday cuts.

Don’t forget to score your produce, cheese, bread, desserts and other goodies at the farmers’ markets to round out your meal.  The Matthews Community Farmers Market will be having a special early evening Thanksgiving market on Tuesday, November 23rd.  Atherton Market has convenient new hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Saturday, November 20th is the Davidson Farmers’ Market Thanksgiving market.  There will also be a Cornucopia Sale at the Common Grounds Farm Stand in Myers Park on Nov. 20th.

If you choose to go the traditional turkey route and secure your bird, you’ll want to consider the dressing that goes with it. Some folks prefer cornbread stuffing, others sourdough.  Some have a family recipe for oyster stuffing, some for mushroom.  Whatever it may be, provide lots of it.  And if you want to try something new, give my Triple-Bread Sausage Apple Stuffing recipe below a whirl.  Charlotte Fresh and Hubby joined some friends this past weekend for an early turkey celebration and fixed up this nummy stuffing for the crowd.

Fresh Recipe:  CF’s Triple-Bread Sausage Apple Stuffing

CF's Triple-bread Sausage Apple stuffing

CF's Triple-Bread Sausage Apple Stuffing

This stuffing is so tasty you can eat it straight with gravy.  (I won’t admit to whether we did this for dinner or not on Monday night.)  Make it as moist or as dry as you like it.  As the recipe is written it is moist, but not sopping.  It will be drier than you might be used to due to the cornbread.  Adjust the chicken broth to change the moisture content.  I like to bake this in a separate casserole dish outside the bird.

I used Grateful Growers Farm breakfast sausage, Down Home Baking Co. ciabatta, Great Harvest Bread Co. whole wheat sourdough, cornbread I baked the day before with Bost Grist Mill corn meal (easy recipe is on the package), Alex’s Free Range Eggs, apples from Davis & Son Orchards and herbs from Charlotte Fresh’s own home garden.

Makes about 21 cups.  (Enough to fill my 2.5 liter and 2.8 liter Corning Ware serving dishes.)

  • 2 lb. fresh ciabatta bread, crust removed and 1-inch cubed
  • 1 lb. fresh whole wheat sourdough bread, crust removed and 1-inch cubed
  • 1 8-inch cornbread, 1-inch cubed
  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced finely
  • 3 ribs celery, diced finely
  • 2 apples – try Granny Smith and Gold Rush varieties, cored and diced
  • 1/3 C white wine
  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 Tbs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbs chives, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp each salt & pepper, or to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3-4 C chicken broth (I prefer low-sodium organic if I don’t make my own)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Divide the sourdough and whole wheat bread cubes between two very large mixing bowls, ensuring a good mixture of breads in each bowl.

Set aside cornbread in another bowl and pour 1/2 C chicken broth over it.  Toss gently to get the cornbread mostly coated without making too many crumbs.

In a very large deep pan (like a shallow dutch oven), brown the sausage in a little olive oil. Add onions and celery and cook 5 minutes or until they are translucent.  Add apples and cook for 5-7 minutes or until soft.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add white wine.  Add butter until melted and mix altogether.  Take off the heat.  Add sage, oregano, thyme, parsley, chives, nutmeg and cinnamon and mix well.

Divide and pour sausage mixture over the sourdough/whole wheat bread cubes in each bowl.  Pour 1-1/4 C chicken broth over contents in each bowl.  Toss with hands (be careful, maybe hot).  Add 2 beaten eggs to each bowl and toss with hands to coat.

Divide and add the soaked cornbread to each bowl.  Toss gently.  The mixture should feel uniformly damp but not dripping, and the bread should hold together if you squeeze it slightly. Add more broth if necessary to get to the moistness desired.  (I used a total of 3 cups of broth in the batch I made.)

Pack stuffing into two buttered 2.5-3 liter baking dishes, and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top and heated through.

After baking, you can keep this warm for dinner at about 200 degrees, covered so it doesn’t dry out.

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About charlottefresh

Helping Charlotte find fresh local food. Spread the word.
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