Did you know that the first Thanksgiving event happened almost 400 years ago? No? Neither did we! Which is why we’ve decided to pull together ‘six fascinating Thanksgiving food facts you never knew’ to help FOUR readers (and us included) brush up on your Thanksgiving ‘nosh knowledge’ and save you from making a turkey of yourself around the dinner table.
Always looking to please, we’ve also managed to get hold of an alternative Michelin star turkey recipe – Bruno Loubet’s Turkey Paupiette with Dried Cranberry Sauce – so that you can impress with both your newfangled Thanksgiving foodie facts and top-notch fare.
1) Around 46,000,000 turkeys are sold every year, just for Thanksgiving! That means, given that the average weight of a turkey is 16lbs, all the turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving could equal the weight of almost 750 filled Boeing 747-8 airplanes.
2) 20% of all cranberries eaten in the US are eaten on Thanksgiving Day! And you don’t have to feel guilty about tucking in, either. Cranberries are nutrient-dense and high in antioxidants, the perfect excuse not to hold back!
3) The very first Thanksgiving menu, which would have been eaten on the first Thanksgiving event around 400 years ago, included deer, small fowl, corn, and several types of fish. The more traditional dishes like turkey and said cranberries only emerged on the Thanksgiving menu 200 years or so later.
4) Pumpkin was used as an ingredient for the crust of some pies during the colonial period, but not the filling!
5) While some of you will already be well acquainted with the term ‘TV Dinner’ or ‘ready-made meal’, you might not know that its beginnings are linked to one particular Thanksgiving in the 1950s: US-based ready-meal brand Swanson & Sons invented the first TV Dinners in 1953 because they needed to use up all of their Thanksgiving Turkey leftovers!
6) Sarah Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” campaigned for almost 2 decades to make Thanksgiving Day a national holiday, and it was in part because of a letter from her that Abraham Lincoln declared it so. She also came up with an outline of suggested Thanksgiving dishes, most of which we see on modern Thanksgiving menus today!
1kg skinless turkey breast, cut into
6 thin slices (you can ask your butcher
to do this for you or see Bruno’s Tips)
240g boneless turkey thighs, minced
2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
50ml white wine
1 large onion, finely chopped
180g smoked streaky bacon, minced
4 sage leaves
1 egg, lightly beaten
⅓ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and black pepper
1 onion, chopped
100g celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
3 tbsp cider vinegar
300ml veal or dark chicken stock
100g dried cranberries, soaked in hot
water for 1 hour then drained
1 tbsp cranberry jelly
3 tbsp chopped chives
If you cut the turkey breast yourself and have any trimmings, mince them and add to the minced thigh meat.
Place a piece of cling film on a chopping board. Brush some water over it using a pastry brush, then lay a slice of meat on top. Brush with water again then cover with another piece of film to sandwich it. Tap it with a rolling pin (not too hard), to start breaking up the fibres, then roll it out in all directions to get a thin 5mm slice (an escalope). Repeat with the other five slices.
Preheat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/Gas 7. Soak the breadcrumbs in a bowl with the white wine. With the back of a fork, mash to a purée. Heat the butter in a small pan, then add the onion and sweat until soft. Pour the onion and butter into the breadcrumb mixture, making sure you scrape out all the butter that is in the pan. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then add all the remaining ingredients to make the stuffing. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
Lay the turkey escalopes out on a work surface, then shape the stuffing mixture into six even balls and place on top of each escalope.Wrap the escalopes around them to form balls, then wrap tightly in a double layer of lightly oiled foil. Transfer to a roasting tin and place in the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, then unwrap the foil over the roasting tin to collect any juices and fat and transfer the turkey paupiettes to a plate, cover with cling film and set aside.
To make the sauce, add the onion, celery and garlic to the roasting tin. Place over a medium heat to colour the vegetables, then add the vinegar. Bring to a vigorous boil, then add the stock and the paupiettes. Cover with foil and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place the paupiettes on a serving dish or plates. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a small saucepan, then add the cranberries and the jelly. Bubble to reduce it if it looks too thin, then add the butter and heat through.
Swirl the pan for the sauce to absorb the butter, then add the chives. Pour the sauce over the paupiettes and serve immediately.