Thanksgiving is not only rich in history… it is rich in color, smells, tradition and tastes. One of my favorite things to do during Thanksgiving is cook. Our family is not large and we want to keep Thanksgiving to a budget of $40. The reason I chose $40 is because this is the average money spent by a family receiving SNAP benefits at our market when utilizing the Double Up Food Bucks program. I’ll be roasting a hen instead of a turkey and making dishes that are made up of ingredients purchased at the farmers market.
The hen will be the most expensive part of our meal. To keep the meal under $40 I will be purchasing the hen from Otto’s Chicken. This will give me a good size bird for our family, ensuring everyone gets meat on their plate. The bird carcass will later be used to make a stock, which in turn will be used for later meals. To cook the bird I will be using a crock pot. This is not typical for Thanksgiving, but it will ensure I get to cook all my sides at once in the oven AND have the bird cooking at the same time.
Took cook our hen I will first place some butter under the skin, just like we would do with a turkey. I will place sliced onions, whole garlic cloves and sliced lemons in the bottom of the crockpot. I will fill the cavities of the hen with whole garlic cloves, sliced lemons and sliced onions as well. I will rub the exterior of the bird with salt and pepper, then place it on top of the sliced onion/garlic/lemons. The hen will cook for 1.5 hours PER pound. (example 4.5 lb chicken will cook for 6 hours and 45 minutes).
Now that the bird is taken care of the next most important dish is the stuffing. I’ll be serving a stuffing my grandmother has served me since I was a child. It is a traditional sage stuffing. The recipe starts the night before Thanksgiving – the tearing of the bread. The tearing used to be my job… however now my children fill that role.
2 loaves of bread, white or wheat is ok – not artisan breads (torn the night before and left out to dry)
1 cup of butter
1 cup minced onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon white pepper (or more to taste)
5 tablespoon minced fresh sage or 5 tsp dried (more or less to taste)
3 eggs, whisked
1 cup stock (or milk)
bird innards, optional
Items in bold are produced locally and can be bought at the PFC or markets
1. Tear the bread the evening before, allowing it time to dry.
2. When ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Melt the butter, adding in the onion and celery. Cook until translucent.
4. Add in salt, pepper and sage – cook for 1-2 minutes longer, do not allow items to burn.
5. Place the bread in a large bowl and toss with the cooked onions, celery and spices. Once well mixed add in eggs and continue to coat the bread.
6. Slowly add in liquid of choice until all bread items are covered and moist, ensure they are not soggy.
7. Place in a baking dish and cook for 30 mins, uncover for the last 5.
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