We’ve talked a lot about how different the holidays will look in 2020 (see our podcast on the topic). With a worldwide pandemic still very much a health and safety hazard, now more than ever, our Thanksgiving gathering will be much smaller than usual. That’s why this year, we’re scaling down our menu while still keeping our traditional favorites on the table. That means avoiding full spreads and finding creative ways to combine some of our family favorites. Here’s a look at our downsized Thanksgiving menu!
Stay Safe This Thanksgiving!
Yes, the holidays will be a little different this year due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy time with our families and all the things we’re grateful for.
If you’re traveling, be sure to use proper precautions like hand-washing, wearing a mask in public, and self-isolating when needed. Together, we can do what we can to stop the spread and keep our family members safe and healthy this holiday season!
Now, onto the details of our menu and the recipe for Bacon Jam!
Here’s our overall Thanksgiving menu, explained below:
Warm Mulled Cider
Bacon Jam (recipe below)
Bacon Turkey cabbage, apples and onions (we actually made one made before hand for broth and pan drippings)
Green Bean Casserole with Drop Biscuits
Scale Up and add
Want Lower Carb? Try
Pork Stuffing Casserole instead of bread
Rosemary Carrot Mash instead of mashed potatoes
Creamed Kale instead of creamed corn pudding
Heather’s Low Carb Cheesecake for a real deal dessert, a chocolate swirl with nut toppings would be a fantastic seasonal replacement instead of berries
Tips for Adjusting the Thanksgiving Menu
Turkey: As far as main courses go, turkey is such a flexible dish for varying menu sizes. If your menu is larger than ours, it’s as easy as buying a bigger bird! Just remember- bigger turkeys cook longer, so be sure to plan your time accordingly. And don’t forget to make enough for Thanksgiving leftovers! We usually make two birds, one you can make in advance then you’ll have bones for broth to make the gravy ahead of time if you want to save on time.
Appetizers: choose something that works universally. We’re sharing Bacon Jam because it can be prepped in advance and works with almost anything (including leftovers) and goes a long way. Skip fancy additions like soups, or dishes that are a lot of work but won’t be good on their own later.
Sides: we used to let each family member attending Thanksgiving request a dish. With a scaled down celebration, we’re serving less number of dishes – but we don’t have to give up on the flavors. We’re sharing some dishes that combine separate classic recipes, so you’re still getting it all.
Desserts: this is where we cheat a bit. There are so many awesome pre-made options these days, grabbing a gluten-free pie from the store or making something simple like our 10 min Pecan Crack(le) Cookies saves more time to enjoy the holiday with loved ones.
Leftovers: yes, this is it’s own category. You’ve cooked a LOT and deserve a break. And, as a National Food Holiday, we want to “celebrate” for more than once. Plan ahead, doubling recipes is way easier than making a separate meal!
For example, Bacon Jam lasts FOREVER refrigerated, so we keep it on hand for pancakes, biscuits, and even as a fruit spread. I love how it can be used for leftovers, too. Just look at what Jenni at The Urban Poser did topping off her Apple Butternut Squash Breakfast Hash with it!
Each year, we like to get creative and try out a new drink mix or two. On this year’s menu is the Harvest Sparkle! This treat uses health-promoting honey and orange juice (tho I made ours with apple cider), fresh herbs, warming liquor and bubbles for fun. Trust me, it’s worth a try!
This year, we won’t be putting out our usual full spread of appetizers. But that doesn’t mean we are any less excited! Bacon Jam from our cookbook: Beyond Bacon can be made in advance and works with almost anything! I love that it can be served with crudite, hard boiled eggs, crackers, on biscuits, and especially on post-Thanksgiving sandwiches!
No turkey dinner is complete without gravy, in fact I’d argue this is the best part of Thanksgiving. Of food in general. I’ll take gravy on everything, k, thanks. My favorite recipe is from Russ at The Domestic Man. I justify it because of the nutrient-dense organ meats. You want to make sure you’re using real broth or stock and giblets, a touch of cream, and blend it when done. Immersion blender works best for us!
We don’t have to go without our favorites just because we’re eating from a smaller menu! Sides are the perfect opportunity to get creative and combine ingredients.
Instead of making mashed potatoes, bread or rolls of some kind, sweet potato casserole, and stuffing or dressing – how about choosing just 2 of all of those? We love classic mashed potatoes but could do without all the rest, so I plan to instead replace it all with a Green Bean Casserole with Biscuits on top, similar to this one but ours will use King Arthur gluten-free flour and sub the milk for half organic heavy cream diluted with some water. We’ll let you know how it goes on social media!
Our recipe for Pork Stuffing Casserole is another great alternative, too. And with fresh cranberries that’s one less other side dish to worry about, too!
Another excellent combination recipe is our sweet potato drop biscuits. They combine the goodness of a biscuit with the traditional sweet potatoes no Thanksgiving menu should ever be without. Plus, they go amazingly with Bacon Jam!
Creamed corn is another dish common on many Thanksgiving tables, but if you’re trying to avoid grains try our Creamed Kale as a non-starchy alternative. It’s soft, creamy texture and naturally sweet flavor with a touch of nutmeg is dairy-free and kid-friendly!
If you’re looking for another way to expand your downsized Thanksgiving Menu, you may want to try adding a cornbread side. This paleo cornbread recipe is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free but is the traditional southern real deal way of making it in a skillet!
We’re used to doing a whole spread of classic Thanksgiving desserts each year. Here’s how I’m simplifying to get all the flavors everyone loves, but as easy as possible:
- Pecan Crack(le) cookies will replace pecan pie or pecan bars, they take literally 10 minutes
- I’m swapping out pumpkin pie and cheesecake for our super simple box-mix-short-cut Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Swirl Muffins
- Maybe I’ll even make the boys Cinnamon Apple Dump Cake if I’m feeling up to it, which is less than 5 minutes of prep!
If you’re looking to spend some more time in the kitchen making the best-of-the-best classics, I recommend trying:
- Classic (but healthier) Cheesecake
- The Best Paleo Pumpkin Pie (we make this as a crustless custard)
- Mary Berry’s Ultimate Chocolate Roulade (Swiss Roll)
- Pudding Pie because no dessert spread is complete without pie!
Alright friends, after all this cooking you deserve some time off. And everyone deserves to get to enjoy your feast for days after! I recommend doubling recipes, since it’s not much work – then they’ll last for days later.
Some of my favorite leftovers (beyond the traditional sandwich):
- Brussel Sprouts Frittata (with leftover roasted veggies)
- Turkey Thai Basil
- Stacy’s Soup lays out how to make the BEST turkey soup
- Chicken & Dumplings (with turkey)
- here’s 15 Ways to Make Leftover Mashed Potatoes Even Better
- 28 ounces (1¾ pounds) bacon, sliced into ½-inch pieces
- 1 medium sweet white onion, minced
- 1 medium red onion, minced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup granulated maple or palm sugar
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup apple cider or juice
- 1/2 cup stock or broth
- In a Dutch oven on medium heat, cook the bacon pieces through. Then, set them aside on a towel to drain.
- Pour off the excess bacon fat, except leave 2 tablespoons in the Dutch oven. Over medium heat, add the onion and garlic to the Dutch oven, and cook them until the onion is caramelized and softened to a light brown color, about 10 minutes.
- Add the apple cider vinegar, sugar, maple syrup, apple cider, and Pork Stock to the Dutch oven. Deglaze the pan by scraping any remaining stuck bits off the bottom, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Return the bacon to the Dutch oven, and stir to combine.
- Cook uncovered over medium heat 1-2 hours. The jam will be finished when the water is evaporated, and the consistency becomes thick and gelatinous, resulting in a dark brown caramel color.
- Transfer the jam into mason jars or other airtight containers, chill to store, and serve with everything!
This recipe makes a fantastic gift for special events and holidays—especially for people who need to be persuaded that Paleo foods are delicious and fun! We prefer to cook this in a Dutch oven, but it can be made in a crockpot. You will just need to cook it for a lot longer—6-10 hours on high with the lid off—and perhaps add a thickening starch like arrowroot powder.
Want more inspiration? Listen to our Thanksgiving podcast, here.
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