Homemade Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner with All the Sides


We asked readers to share their questions and concerns about preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Kelly Bess of Lititz heeded our call. She wants to know:

I have some gluten-free family members coming for Thanksgiving this year. Do you have a good gluten-free gravy recipe? Can I just substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour?

I reached out to my friend Jeanne Sauvage, a Seattle-based gluten-free expert and cookbook author for advice. As someone living with autoimmune conditions, Sauvage long ago developed her own gluten-free all-purpose flour mix that she uses for everything from bread and cookies to making Thanksgiving gravy. The short answer is yes, you can use a gluten-free all-purpose flour in lieu of wheat-based flour as a gravy thickener, with the understanding that gluten-free does not mean allergen free. (Check with your guests to find out more.)

In lieu of a gluten-free flour mix, Sauvage suggests using sweet rice flour as a thickener. “Sweet rice flour is more starchy than other gluten-free flours, is typically finely ground and has no flavor getting in the way of the gravy,” Sauvage told LNP | LancasterOnline.

No matter what you decide, gravy consists of two additional elements: Liquid (usually stock or broth) and fat, and the process is the same. Start by melting your fat (butter, oil or drippings) in a pan, then adding equal parts flour, stirring until a paste (or roux) forms. Keep in mind that a gluten-free roux tends to burn more readily, so avoid cooking the roux to deepen the color. Gradually add hot liquid, whisking until the roux has dissolved and the mixture is thickened. Season as you like and serve hot.

The ratio is: 2 tablespoons each of fat and flour for every 1 cup of liquid.

For one quart (4 cups) of gravy, you will need: 8 tablespoons fat, 8 tablespoons flour and 4 cups of broth.

In addition to a whole turkey, I am going to make a turkey breast to make sure we have leftovers. How can I cook the turkey breast so it comes out moist and not dried out since I don’t have the cavity to stuff with citrus (orange and lemon) like I usually do?

Last year, I heard about a technique on Instagram from cookbook author Samin Nosrat, who suggested brining a turkey breast in buttermilk overnight. For a five-pound breast, you will need one quart of buttermilk mixed with 1/4 cup of salt. Use an oversized zip-style bag or submerge in a deep container overnight. When you’re ready to cook, I would remove the turkey out of the brine about an hour in advance, letting it come closer to room temperature. Pat dry with towels and place on a rack.

For a nondairy approach, consider an assertive rub of salt and pepper with olive oil as the lubricant. Do the math and measure out 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper per pound. Mix together in a small bowl. Stir in 4 tablespoons of olive oil, to start, and apply the mixture all over the turkey breast. Place on a rack and preheat the oven to 350 F. (Cook until the internal temperature is 165 F.) Estimate 13 minutes of cooking time per pound. ( I advise that you keep track of the time, as turkey breasts easily overcook and get tough, and that would be sad.

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