I observed how to baste Turkey by the time I was eight years old. My dad would always start the Turkey around 6 a.m. in the morning, and it would cook nice and slow, and every once and awhile, he’d take this nice buttery mixture and brush the skin and saturate it with the baster. I’d watch Macy’s in between following my dad around, mom would make the sides and the dessert, and slowly guests would trickle in.
As you grow older, Thanksgiving undoubtedly gains new traditions while saying goodbye to some others. For me, that often means livening up the menu with some new dishes that potentially are here to stay. Naturally, I've found ways to bring wine into all of our favorite dishes for a rich and flavorful Thanksgiving feast.
White Wine Butter Baste
Even the wine novice knows that poultry pairs seamlessly with our sturdier whites, like chardonnay. There are no hard and fast rules for the perfect baste, but you generally want to ensure you have a base of fats and sugars to keep your whole turkey moist.
My suggested start is a ½ cup of sweet chardonnay with ¼ cup of melted or softened butter. For an extra herbal profile, you can consider adding a bit of dry white vermouth. Customize this base with the herbs or spices of your choice. Depending on your side dishes, you might want to keep it on the spicier side with just a hint of ground nutmeg and some fresh thyme. Savory palettes might prefer the freshness of dill or rosemary. The possibilities are limitless, but a wine-based baste will add a buttery and fruity richness to your dishes like never
Be sparing with the add-ins, however; bastes are there for nuanced flavors and moisture. Most of your herbs, spices and flavoring agents belong under the skin or in the cavity, where they can really imbue the meat with their flavor.
Cranberry Wine Sauce
Cranberry sauce is probably one of the more contentious Thanksgiving condiments, and there is no clear category of “purists.” Many would argue that our best hope is that odd gelatinous mass that comes out of a can, while others would swear by fresh cranberries reduced with sugar and citrus.
I’m going to advocate for the latter team, however, because it offers so much more flexibility in the way of taking “Thanksgiving’s ketchup” to the next level. I’ll concede that cranberries can be quite scary. They’re fiercely bitter on occasion, and they pack a pungent flavor that can be transformed into something delicious.
Here’s my quick recipe for delicious cranberry sauce reduced with pinot noir:
· 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries
· ½ cup of sugar
· ½ cup of sweet pinot noir
· 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
· 1 tablespoon of orange juice
· 2 tablespoons of water
· pinch of salt
Add cranberries to a saucepan with water over medium-high heat until cranberries are soft.
Add remaining ingredients and stir regularly until cranberries burst, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Experiment with hints of spices like cinnamon and clove for greater complexity.
Green Bean Casserole
Green bean casserole is my absolute favorite. Now, there’s the canned version—dump in some of this, dump in some of that—and it’s perfectly delicious. But I implore to you try this one from scratch one year when you can (fine, you can use store-bought onion strings).
Cook the Story has an amazing and simple recipe for some from-scratch green bean casserole. But, there’s always a place for wine! On step three, when cooking the mushrooms and onions, add 2-4 tablespoons of dry sherry or white wine to deglaze the pan and add an extra layer of rich flavor to this Thanksgiving classic.