Tips to host a smaller but memorable Thanksgiving meal

Chef offers tips for smaller but special Thanksgiving meal

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The CDC recommends that Americans spend Thanksgiving with only those in their immediate household to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Chef Gwen Gulliksen from Cape Fear Community College offered some advice for that smaller meal.

“I know it’s going to be hard for everybody but I hope everybody follows those recommendations,” she said. “My family is doing some fun things. We are doing an alternative to turkey because turkey is big for just four of us. One thing that we’re going to do is Cornish hen.”

She said the Cornish hen can be baked in the oven in the same manner in which one would bake a turkey. Similar to turkey, the Cornish hen can be brined.

Other turkey alternatives Gulliksen recommends are roasted duck, roasted goose, pork roast or leg of lamb.

She also encouraged home chefs to splurge on organic or sustainable meat.

To step up your side game, Gulliksen recommends flavored mashed potatoes. She adds roasted peppers or herbs to her take on this classic Thanksgiving side.

“It’s also a fun time to use specialty produce,” she said. “You can do Brussels sprouts. We are going to shave the Brussels sprouts and sauté them on a cast iron skillet with olive oil and capers.”

But she cautioned that home cooks should not put every dish in the oven at once.

“I think it’s still important to think about how much space you have in your oven,” she said. “People forget that the more you put in it, the longer it takes to bake. I think that’s why people struggle. If they are doing a turkey, it takes longer than they expect because you can’t bake turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and pie all together unless you spend a long time baking it. It will take at least twice as long to do.

She suggests making the desserts in advance of the big day.

“Also, we’re going to open a very special bottle of wine because we’re very thankful that we’re having Thanksgiving together as a family and that’s a fun thing to do as well,” she said.

Gulliksen also shared her recipe for apple pie, which would be a sweet way to end your Thanksgiving meal.

Don’t forget to also follow the precautions recommended this year to keep from spreading COVID-19 around the Thanksgiving table.

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