Mulled wine is the perfect set-it-and-forget-it elixir for holiday parties. You can tweak any recipe as you see fit, but don’t use your Blue Apron reds! Mulled wine was first created centuries ago to make spoiled wine drinkable, but modern wines are of much higher quality and last longer. So shop for a simple, cheap-and-cheerful red that could use some spicing up. You’ll have a delicious, winter-warming drink for everyone to enjoy by the fire!
2 750ml bottles of fruity red wine
10 whole cloves
2 star anise pods (optional)
5 cardamom pods (optional)
5 Tbs granulated brown sugar
1/2 Cup water
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 Cup of Port
Two shots of Bourbon (optional)
Make a small pouch with the cheesecloth. Put the cloves, anise and cardamom pods inside and tie it tight with string. Zest the lemons and oranges using a vegetable peeler, pulling off wide strips. Cut the fruit into 1/4 wedges.
Put a pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, zest and spice pouch. Heat to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved, then turn the heat to low and wait until the water volume is reduced by half.
Add all remaining ingredients, and squeeze the juice of the fruit wedges into the pot before adding them. Leave until heated through, about 20 minutes. Don’t let the mixture boil. Serve warm and garnish each serving with a new cinnamon stick.
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With Turkey Day fast approaching, we’re answering the question that many folks have this time of year: what kind of wine should I serve?
Luckily, when it comes to pairing food and wine on the big day, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. You can serve one type of wine for the whole feast, or leave it up to guests to personalize their picks according to their favorite dishes—whether it’s the ever-so-generously buttered mashed potatoes, the sumptuous stuffing or the juicy bird itself. Whichever approach you decide to take, we’ve got you covered.
Each of these wines will amp up everything on your Thanksgiving table. (Only dessert has a hands-down winner.) Look for the dish you keep on craving to see which bottle to plunk between you and the closest relative.
Pairs with: Cranberry Sauce
Calling all cranberry sauce lovers. Like cranberry sauce, Zinfandel is tart and sweet, and its spice brings extra life to the party.
Pairs with: Sweet Potatoes
Do you head straight for the sweet potatoes? Then make a beeline for a Riesling and its crisp autumn flavor.
Pairs with: Turkey
If you’re all about the bird, pour a glass of Pinot. Its berry flavor gets on famously with light meat, and its earthiness cozies up to dark meat.
Pairs with: Mashed Potatoes
A buttery tower of spuds yearns for a Chardonnay. Oaky Chards are like an extra drizzle of butter, while light, fresh Chards leave you with room for seconds.
Pairs with: Pumpkin Pie
If the best comes last for you, the choice is simple. Have some Gewürztraminer with that pumpkin pie. It’s like dessert in a glass.
Pairs with: Stuffing Is stuffing the centerpiece of your feast? Petite Sirah is for you. Its spice makes oh-so-nice with your family’s secret recipe.
To our fans, friends, and fellow chefs: thank you. This Thanksgiving, as Blue Apron partnered with City Harvest and the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, you helped us deliver our annual Thanksgiving menu directly to nearly 35,000 families in need. That’s an incredible way to share the gift of incredible food, and we made the effort together.
Every month, Lori Yates from Foxes Love Lemons takes a lesson she learned in culinary school, while working with some of the country’s best chefs, and brings it into the home kitchen, where her tips will help make you a faster, better, and more confident cook. Welcome to her column, Home Chef. Today, we’re talking potatoes, the root vegetable that plays a starring role for much of the year, adding heft and comfort to your plate. They’re incredible when mashed–but they need some extra attention to seasoning to be truly delicious.
There’s an infinite number of ways to make mashed potatoes, and that’s one thing I love about them. You can make them really smooth or leave them lumpy. You can mash them with a ricer, masher or mixer. You can stir in melted butter, room temperature butter, milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk or something else. But I think there’s one thing we can all agree on: a bland scoop of mashed potatoes is the worst scoop of mashed potatoes.
That’s why I’m here today to talk about one specific thing in regards to mashed potatoes: seasoning them properly. Make your potatoes using whatever method is your favorite, and mix in whatever butter and creamy element you’d like. But they’re not finished until they’re well-seasoned. My culinary school used four elements to season mashed potatoes: salt, white pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Let’s break it down:
If you do nothing else, make sure you salt your potatoes. By nature, potatoes are pretty bland, and will end up tasting like cardboard without some salt. While we used kosher salt for just about everything else, my school had us use iodized salt (a.k.a. table salt) to season mashed potatoes. Because the granules of iodized salt are so much smaller than kosher salt, a teaspoon of iodized salt really is more salty than a teaspoon of kosher salt. This means that if you have a big Thanksgiving dinner-sized batch of mashed potatoes, it might be a little bit easier to season them with iodized salt, as you’ll need less to achieve the same effect. However, any type of salt will work here. Just make sure you add enough so that the flavor of the potato no longer seems dull and flat. Watch how to season to taste.
A classic French technique, we seasoned with white pepper over black pepper mainly for aesthetic reasons – white pepper disappears into the potatoes and doesn’t leave black flecks running through them. While this aesthetic reason probably won’t matter to most home cooks and their guests, the flavor of white pepper is also really nice in potatoes. White pepper is slightly hotter than black pepper, which works well to liven up the potatoes and give them some bite. White pepper is also common in Asian cooking, so if you invest in a jar of it, you’ll be all set for stir-fries, too.
Not too much, as you don’t want pink mashed potatoes. But try adding just a pinch of cayenne next time. You won’t end up with spicy potatoes as long as you just add a bit. But the little amount of cayenne will add even more depth of flavor to mashed potatoes and make them tasty in their own right, instead of just a vehicle for gravy.
Not just for holiday baking! Nutmeg is another classical French seasoning for mashed potatoes. Again, you want just a small pinch. Many people find that the warm flavor of nutmeg enhances the creamy flavor of the mashed potatoes (or any creamy dish). It’s hard to explain, but it gives the potatoes “a certain something” that will make your guests go back for seconds.
Use this seasoning guide to make a perfect pot of mashed potatoes, every time. You may not even NEED the gravy! Just kidding. I always need the gravy.
Each week, we round up posts, videos, and even playlists to entertain you while you cook, and provide conversation fodder for tonight’s Blue Apron dinner. We hope you enjoy these four inspiring foodie articles we found!
This post is our first venture into longform food history, and we’re so pleased to welcome Suzanne Kahn, a history grad student and author of the food blog, An Overdetermined Life. Just in time for turkey day, Suzanne’s exploring the history of our most American meals, to determine why we eat what we eat at Thanksgiving, and just what our turkey day traditions mean.
At my boyfriend’s family’s Thanksgiving the dish everyone waits for all year is not turkey, not stuffing, not cranberry sauce. It’s clam pie.
If for some reason clam pie entices you, here’s a little more about it. Clam pie is not a pie. It is literally a pound of butter mixed with canned clams, their juices, garlic, breadcrumbs, and mozzarella. After a quick broil, the melty mess is piled onto crackers and eaten as a pre-turkey snack
My family has its own shellfish-based Thanksgiving tradition. We fill up on raw oysters before turkey. Learning to shuck them is an oddly gendered right of passage for the men who participate in our Thanksgiving. (Editor’s note: we’re into it, Suzanne! We’re serving salmon, too.)
Seafood aside, how did everyone end up sitting down for a meal of turkey, cranberry sauce, and pie anyway? And, what about the more idiosyncratic traditions like clam pie and raw oysters? How did those get added to our tables?
Below, we’re covering the essential components of a Thanksgiving dinner so that you can stump everyone with holiday food trivia this Thursday. So even if you don’t decide to give clam pie a whirl, you can still know why you, and everyone else in the country, are buying cranberries this week.
**How Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, and Pie Came to Our Thanksgiving Tables**
A Little History
Let’s start with the basics. We all know the Puritans-and-Indians-sitting-down-to-their-first-Thanksgiving feast story. From there, it was a while before Thanksgiving moved from a customary observance to an actual fixed, national holiday in the nineteenth century.
In 1846, Sarah Joseph Hale, a women’s magazine editor, began her campaign to get Thanksgiving turned into a holiday. She wrote annually to the President and to every governor in the country asking that they declare the last Thursday in November a national day of thanks.
This was just before the Civil War, and Hale believed that such a holiday would unite the country.
Unfortunately for Hale and for peacetime, it was not until the middle of the Civil War that her crusade was successful and Thanksgiving created. In 1863, Lincoln declared the first Thanksgiving in order to celebrate recent Northern victories. This was hardly the unifying moment Hale had hoped for, but, in the long run, her inclination was right. Today, our Thanksgiving dinner table is full of food traditions that bring together North and South.
Here’s what Hale said should be on the Thanksgiving table: Beef, pork, mutton, goose, chicken, and turkey. In other words, meat with a side of more meat.
So how did the turkey—arguably one of the less delicious meats around—win? I put that question to a few Thanksgiving experts. Sheri Castle, an expert on Southern food history, explained that wild turkeys were plentiful for hunting throughout early America. More importantly, of all the fowl you could hunt, turkey offered the most meat for a feast.Sandra Oliver, co-author of Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie added that turkey simply looks the most celebratory. It makes a better centerpiece than, say, a pork loin or leg of venison. Hale agreed. “The roasted turkey,” she wrote, “took precedence on this occasion.”
Amid all that meat, turkey was the prettiest.
The Stuffing (or Dressing)
And how did today’s traditional sides edge out all that extra meat?
Let’s start with the stuffing. Giving Thanks author Oliver told me that as long as people have been roasting hollow birds, those birds have been stuffed. That said, the pilgrims probably weren’t stuffing their birds with the bread stuffing we know and love. Fowl was likely roasted on a spit; if it was stuffed, it was with herbs and nuts. According to Castle, bread stuffing likely emerged among people who couldn’t afford to have lots of meat. It served as a way of enlarging the meal with whatever people had in abundance.
In the South, that meant the wealthiest people made stuffing out of biscuits, while residents of rice-growing areas used that dominant grain and those from corn-heavy reions made stuffing out of corn bread. The Sicilian community in New Orleans even used eggplant.
Although the pilgrims likely ate cranberries, we have no record of them as being part of the Thanksgiving feast. Commercial cranberry cultivation began in 1816 and harvesting technologies developed over the course of the early nineteenth century. So, just as Thanksgiving became a national holiday, the native New England berry became widely available, a coincidence that would have repercussions for today’s November tables.
In 1864, Ulysses S. Grant ordered that cranberry sauce be part of Union soldiers’ Thanksgiving meal and the sauce gained traditional status for all time.
Of course, the sauce union soldiers ate probably didn’t look much like the canned cranberry sauce many of us are familiar with. Back when most people made their own cranberry sauce (you should think about doing that too, it’s much better), the debate was about whether to leave chunks of cranberries in your sauce or strain them out.
As with peanut butter, I’m firmly on the chunky side of this debate.
Sandra Oliver explained to me that the early Thanksgiving meals were not served in courses. The meat would be on the table with sweet pies; some of the pies even included both meat and sugared fruit. Indeed, Oliver argues (although I wasn’t entirely convinced) that it’s a tragedy that we no longer eat mincemeat pie. (Mincemeat pie is made with leftover scraps of meat from the butchering process, apples, and other dried fruits.)
In addition to mincemeat pie there were likely apple pies and pumpkin pies. All of this was seasonal, local fare: today, that’s a buzzword, but back then it was just reality, since Thanksgiving fell at the end of apple, pumpkin, and butchering season.
As for pecan pie, it’s a Southern addition to the meal. Pecans grow in abundance in the South and their harvest occurs in the fall too. To this day, southerners also often replace pumpkin pie with sweet potato pie, another local crop.
The Lost Traditions
Reflecting on that mincemeat pie, I asked both Oliver and Castle what other Thanksgiving traditions we’ve lost due to our preoccupation with pie, turkey, and stuffing.
Castle told me a huge variety of homemade pickles used to appear at Southern Thanksgivings, but these have become rarer and rarer. Likewise, congealed salads, aka Jello molds, seemed to be falling out of favor. “If we’re not careful,” said Oliver sadly, “we’re going to lose creamed onions too.”
After my conversations with Oliver and Castle, I thought about what an odd feast our Thanksgiving tables really are. The foods we eat are at once the height of seasonal, locavore eating and regional transplants, far from home. Traditions picked up when our families lived one place, get dropped down somewhere else and then adopted by others. We eat pecan pie in New England because pecans are in season 1,000 miles away. Even my family’s food traditions follow this course. My parents started eating oysters at Thanksgiving, when they celebrated on the Chesapeake every year, 30 years ago. Now, no matter where we are, the raw oysters appear. Maybe that’s just emblematic of our American diet.
Thanksgiving is comforting because we know that everyone in the country is sitting down to a meal of turkey, cranberries, stuffing, and pie. At the same, time our individual tables show our families’ histories, the foods we have added along the way remind us of where we have lived and who our friends are.
So, if you are hosting your first Thanksgiving or joining a friend’s, of course, you should eat turkey and pie with the rest of America. But, you might also feel free to start your own food tradition too. Maybe it will still be around 30 years from now. If nothing else, make some creamed onions for Sandra Oliver.
Thanksgiving is the best eating holiday of the year. We took to the Blue Apron Test Kitchen to create a menu that could be cooked in one of two ways–either as three separate, balanced meals for two, or as a single feast for six. All you need are some festive table settings and a bunch of friends to give thanks for.
(By the way–customers: if you already have Thanksgiving plans, you can donate your box to a family in need to provide them with all the fixings for their Thanksgiving table. Blue Apron will match the proceeds from your donation to our partner organizations City Harvest and Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. Click here to donate your box by noon (EST) on Friday, November 22nd.)
We are making such a feast!
We started with the turkey, the centerpoint of any non-vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner. We’ve got Maple-Glazed Turkey Breast with Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans & Maitake Mushrooms. The turkey is roasted until crispy on the outside and stays nice and juicy within. Traditional, and delicious!
After that–or really, before–there’s a soup. This Lamb Merguez Sausage and Butternut Squash Soup with Barley & Spinach is one of the heartiest, most soul-satisfying soups we think you’ll ever have. There’s squash in it, plus barley and a flavorful lamb sausage. Here’s what it’ll look like when you serve it up.
After soup, we figure you’ll load up your plates with turkey, stuffing, and our third dish–an amazing salmon served with cranberry-walnut stuffing. Look how festive this will all be:
And, we didn’t make you a pie, but we did head to the bakery to pick one up. We highly recommend dolloping a huge amount of whipped cream on top. You know, for garnish.
Happy Thanksgiving! We’ll be talking about the vegetarian box in a few days, but of course we’ve got you covered.
With Thanksgiving approaching, we realize that many of you may be traveling. A few generous subscribers have asked us to allow them to donate their delivery to a family in need, and we wanted to make this option available to everybody.
To help bring delicious, home-cooked Thanksgiving meals to hungry families, we’ve teamed up with City Harvest, an organization we work with regularly. City Harvest has been feeding families in need in New York City for over 30 years.
If you will be away for the holiday and would like to send your delivery to a family in need, please log in to your account to donate your Thanksgiving delivery. You’ll need to elect to donate your meal before noon on Thursday, November 15th.
For every donated box, Blue Apron will donate an additional 5% to our partners at City Harvest.