It’s been nearly 400 years since the pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving after the fall harvest in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. According to one attendee, the feast lasted three days and was attended by 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.
Fast forward 396 years and our modern American Thanksgiving is significantly different from the original celebration. Back at the original Thanksgiving, the feast focused around main dishes of venison, fish and shellfish. While “wild fowl” was on the menu, it’s unknown whether that meant turkey, geese or ducks. Turkey is a uniquely American bird, and it eventually took its central place on the Thanksgiving menu after President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.
What about sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie—did the original Thanksgiving feature those? No, no and no. The colonists didn’t yet have access to either sweet or white potatoes, and while cranberries were plentiful in New England, there wasn’t any sugar to make what we know today as cranberry sauce. As for pumpkin pie, that couldn’t be made without flour or sugar, but the pilgrims did roast pumpkins over the fire.
Since our modern Thanksgiving celebration features such different foods than the first celebration, we thought it might be fun to ask around at Commonwealth Law Group and find out what unique dishes our employees and their families prepare.
Here’s what we found out:
We love deep-fried turkey.
Though the pilgrims didn’t get to experience it, it’s amazing how great turkey tastes when you deep-fry it. CLG fried turkey fans suggest that you marinade the turkey first: we like the ginger and rosemary or Cajun marinade if you plan to go this route.
Frying a turkey is fast and easy. However, there are some inherent dangers involved. As Richmond personal injury attorneys, we recommend that you thoroughly investigate the process and adhere to all safety precautions.
Here are a few tips to make sure your fried turkey comes out delicious – and without any burn injuries.
- Fry your turkey outside. Place the turkey fryer on level grass or dirt. Never fry a turkey inside, in a garage or on a deck or you risk starting a fire.
- Never leave a turkey fryer unattended during the entire heating, cooking and cooling process. Keep kids and pets away from the cooking area throughout the process.
- Use an oil with a high smoking point such as peanut, corn, rice or sunflower oil.
- Use the water displacement method to determine how much oil to put in the fryer. First put your turkey in the empty fryer, then fill it with water until the turkey is covered and the water is 3 to 5 inches from the top of the fryer. Remove the turkey, let the water drain from the bird and note the water level in the fryer. That’s how much oil you’ll need to fry the turkey.
- When the oil is heated and you’re ready to lower the turkey, turn the burner off momentarily. Lower the bird slowly to avoid spattering. Turn the burner back on after the turkey is in the pot.
- After cooking is complete, let the oil thoroughly cool to room temperature before storing or discarding it.
- The National Turkey Federation has additional tips and tricks on their website; be sure to read and adhere to all safety precautions.
Get creative with veggies
Whether you’re a green bean casserole or roasted root vegetable fan, there are a lot of great options for vegetables that add a healthy twist to the Thanksgiving feast. Madison Metro’s family has a great recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts:
1 lb Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp Wegman’s basting oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450°F
Trim and halve Brussels sprouts
Toss Brussels sprouts with basting oil, season with salt and pepper. Arrange in single layer in baking dish.
Roast 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and tender, turning once halfway through.
Madison also shared that her family enjoys 7-UP Jello salad and that after dinner they play competitive rounds of Bingo.
Side dishes we love
Sweet potatoes are apparently very popular with CLG’s attorneys.
“My mom always makes a delicious sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, but I can’t share our secret family recipe,” said Elyse Stiner, founding partner.
Another founding partner, Matt Lastrapes, has a sweet potato soufflé recipe that his family enjoys. The secret ingredient is a hint of vanilla extract in addition to a delicious topping of pecans and brown sugar. Trisha Yearwood’s sweet potato soufflé recipe is almost identical – we hope you’ll enjoy it!
Pie? Yes, please.
“At our house, I make the pies and my husband makes the bourbon whipped cream to go on top of them,” said Holly Murray, Paralegal. That sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Whip to desired consistency and add a splash (up to a tablespoon) of your favorite bourbon. Chill and serve!
What if you’re not into turkey?
Though turkey is the most common main course on Thanksgiving, not every household in America cooks one on the fourth Thursday of November. And, now that we know the original Thanksgiving feast may not have included turkey, it seems like the option for a different main course could even be more authentic.
“My family cooks lasagna and salmon as our main courses, and then we make all of the normal Thanksgiving side dishes,” explained Margherita Marannano, Operations Manager. “We’ve just always done it that way. My Mom says it’s because she never learned how to cook a turkey!”
Whatever food you enjoy on Thanksgiving―and whether you follow it up with football, a long walk around your neighborhood or a Game of Thrones marathon―we hope you enjoy a wonderful celebration with friends and family!
If we can help by providing a free consultation when a family member or loved one has been hurt at work or in an accident, call the experienced personal injury attorneys and workers’ compensation lawyers of Commonwealth Law Group at 804.999.9999.