Naturally I really wanted turkey for Thanksgiving. But I didn’t want to hunt around for a whole turkey, something that they don’t seem to have here in France without a special order. And I knew for certain that I couldn’t special order a turkey with one of those magic basting buttons.
Topping off my terrific turkey troubles, my oven isn’t big enough for the American-sized turkey pan that I so carefully packed and brought across the ocean for just such an occasion.
Cranberries don’t exist, fresh or canned. And I never thought to bring a case or two of my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal-- Pepperidge Farm Stuffing.
Rounding out my worrisome woes, I told Tom we were having two French couples over for dinner on Thanksgiving Day. He suggested not mentioning it as a holiday dinner-- this ultimately leads to comparisons to French holidays and regrets that we didn’t load up on fancy hand-made chocolates.
We also didn’t want to burden our French friends with how to act on our holiday.The French do know the television version of this family event -- the father standing over the bird ready to carve, the family around the table ready to gobble up mountains of food, and the inevitable moment when someone starts a squabble, because, like the turkey itself, American television families always squabble at Thanksgiving.
But I really wanted to feel connected to what family and friends were celebrating in the US of A so I decided to cook up a great big turkey pot pie. No one needed to know that in America this is classified as a leftovers dinner. In fact, because of the lack of frozen pearl onions, and because someone gave me wild collected cepe mushrooms, this was the freshest Thanksgiving dinner I’d ever made. (But oh to have had my canned cranberries and packaged stuffing!)
The only moment of “what is this American thing?” was when everyone looked down to see their bread already on their plate. Biscuits floated on top of the pie. This was a first for them. Then after a moment or two of disorientation, someone commented on the cepes and you could feel the sigh of relief with this familiar seasonal ingredient.
Originally dessert was to be an apple pie, but when we thought of the gravy, biscuits, and mashed potatoes through the eyes of someone not used to this quantity of starches we just couldn’t add a pie crust to the mix. So it was brownies instead, and for our guests that was as American as it gets. And oh so easy to gobble up.
No one squabbled, but as with any family the noise level went up and up as the evening went on. Tom and I held on tight as the conversation raced on faster and faster. We lost Tom in a few turns, but he managed to rebound with a minimum of faux pas’s. (He didn’t accidently call anyone a racist this year.) We were happy to think of the progress in our French and the friends we have made in the last year. Maybe this wasn’t a bona fide Thanksgiving, but there was a lot to give thanks for.
from Recipe Rescue Cookbook (Forbidden favorites rescued by the experts at Eating Well Magazine)
Edited by Patricia Jamieson and Cheryl Dorschner
**thank you Cheryl!! such a handy crowd pleaser!
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, sliced
1 clove garlic
6 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 12-oz can evaporated skim milk (1 1/2 cups)
4 cups cooked diced chicken or turkey (1 lb.)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup pearl onions, thawed
3/4 cup frozen peas
enough biscuits to cover pie - or 2 - 3 per person You’ll have to figure our your pan and your eaters!
salt and pepper to taste
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are just tender, 3 - 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour wine, stirring with a whisk. Gradually whisk in stock and evaporated skim milk and bring to a boil, stirring. Cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in meat, lemon juice, parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Blanche carrots in boiling water until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir the carrots, onions and peas into the filling. Spoon the filling into a deep, 3-qt casserole dish (I use a lasagna pan sized for the amount of guests) and set aside while preparing biscuits. (The filling can be prepared ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cover the filling with biscuit rounds and brush with milk.
Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake an additional 10 - 20 minutes or until the biscuits are nicely browned and the filling is bubbling. Serve immediately.