The traditional Thanksgiving dinner - All you need to know!


What are we celebrating on Thanksgiving anyway?

Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays in the USA! Every 4th Thursday in November the table is generously set and the whole family comes together to give thanks for the "harvest". Family members often come from other cities and states, but friends also sit around the table to celebrate together.

Thanksgiving has a long tradition: The first Thanksgiving took place in the 16th century. Americans commemorate the first settlers of the "New World", who were threatened by hunger and thanked God for a good harvest.

However, the first "official" feast is considered to be the one that the Pilgrim Fathers celebrated for three days in Massachusetts in autumn 1621 together with the Wampanoag Indians who lived there. The English settlers wanted to thank the tribe in this way because after their arrival they helped them to grow and prepare native plants (such as corn). Without their help, they would not have survived the following winter.

Do only Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?

Most of us know the holiday from Hollywood movies and series where a juicy turkey takes its place in the middle of the table. In fact, Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving, but it takes place on the 2nd Monday in October.

The German equivalent of this is the Harvest Festival, where believers thank God for the gifts of the harvest. It is celebrated in this country on the first Sunday in October.

What is on the plate?

Richly laid table with turkey and other typical dishes
Most people know the golden brown turkey from movies, but what else comes on the table?

On Thanksgiving, the focus is clearly on food. It's a celebration. Many start preparing the food in the morning and spend several hours at the "stove" to prepare a menu of several courses.

Starter - Crispy Cream Bacon Cornsoup

Traditionally a corn cream soup with crispy bacon strips is served as a starter.

Ingredients: 600 g corn, 500 ml chicken stock, 1x chilli pepper, 1x lime, 150 g bacon "American Style", onions, fresh coriander, salt, pepper, olive oil

Preparation: Sauté onions in a soup pot with hot olive oil and then add chilli pepper and corn. Fill up with chicken stock and let it simmer further. The soup is then pureed in the Mixer or with a hand blender. Season to taste with spices (salt, pepper, chopped coriander, lime juice, garlic if necessary). Cut bacon into strips and fry until crispy. Drain in kitchen towels and put aside for garnishing.

Main course - turkey with sweet potato and carrot puree and cranberry sauce

Ingredients turkey: 1x turkey (4-5Kg), 1 cornbread or toast, 250 ml chicken stock, 150 g apples (fine sour), 1 bunch of celery/parsley/leek, onions, salt, pepper, paprika powder, orange juice, cranberries, white wine, some flour and oil

Preparation turkey:

Prepare the turkey stuffing: Mix the crushed bread and the chopped onions, apples, leeks, celery and parsley with the chicken stock and season to taste. Wash the turkey thoroughly and "stuff" it with the stuffing.

Mix olive oil and spices and rub the turkey with it. Place the prepared turkey on a baking tray, collect the gravy underneath and use regularly for the turkey infusion. Cook gently at approx. 155 degrees for approx. 2 hours. Only at the very end turn the heat up again so that it is crispy brown at the end.

Season to taste the gravy obtained (salt, pepper, white wine, orange juice, maple syrup) and sweat it on if necessary. The turkey meat is then doused with the gravy.

Then the turkey is carved. It is easier with a electric knife, which takes a lot of the work off your hands.

Ingredients sweet potato and carrot puree: 6 large sweet potatoes (yams), 4 carrots, 3 tablespoons butter, salt, pepper, stock powder, a pinch of sugar

Preparation sweet potato-carrot puree: Peel sweet potatoes and carrots and cut them into small pieces. Boil in water with broth powder until very soft and drain well. Puree the vegetables with a blender, stir in butter, possibly also some cooking liquid until a soft puree is obtained. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Cranberry sauce ingredients: 125 g sugar, 400 ml apple juice, 100 ml red wine, 300 g cranberries, maple syrup, Jim Beam Maple, 1 orange, cinnamon

Preparation cranberry sauce: For the compote, caramelise the sugar in a pan and deglaze with red wine. Then fill up with apple juice and top with cranberries. Grate some orange peel and let it simmer. A dash of Jim Beam Maple flavor and maple syrup for the gravy and the sauce compote would also be possible.

Hand mixer with dough
For the preparation of the dough best use the whisk attachments

Dessert - Pumpkin pie

Ingredients: 600 g nutmeg pumpkin, 250 g butter or margarine, 250 g sugar, 1 packet vanillin sugar, 1 pinch of salt, 6 eggs, 500 g flour, 1 packet baking powder, 150 g icing sugar, 150 ml freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice, fat and flour

Preparation: Clean, peel and dice the pumpkin (should be about 400 g). Heat 100 ml water in a pot, add pumpkin, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Drain in a sieve. Put the pumpkin flesh into a high mixing bowl, puree it with a blender (should give about 420 ml puree).

Cream fat, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt with the whisks of the hand blender. Stir in eggs one after the other. Mix flour and baking powder and stir in alternately with the pumpkin puree. Pour the dough into a greased and flour-spreaded pancake tin.

Bake in the preheated oven (electric oven: 175 °C/ convection oven: 150 °C/ gas: level 2) for 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven, place on a rack and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Turn out of the mould and put back into the mould immediately.

Bring icing sugar, lemon and orange juice to the boil in a saucepan and simmer at low heat for about 8 minutes. Cooldown a little. Put the still warm cake in the mould, prick it several times with a shashlik skewer, sprinkle with the juice (except for 2 tablespoons for sprinkling the crème fraîche) and let it cool down. Then turn out of the mould. Serve with crème fraîche sprinkled with the syrup.

Customs and interesting facts about Thanksgiving

One of the most important customs on this holiday is the prayer of thanksgiving at the table. This is often said by the head of the family. In most families, each person present then reveals in turn what they want to give thanks for, what has made them sit up and take notice over the past year and what their wishes for the future are.

A horn of plenty (a bowl-shaped like a horn) full of fruit, flowers and vegetables as a sign of abundance should not be missing as decoration.

cornucopia full of fruit, flowers and vegetables
The cornucopia horn is usually filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables and decorated with flowers

During the feast there is the custom of the "wishbone" (wishbone of desire): two volunteers grasp the dried wishbone of the turkey with their little finger and pull on it until it breaks. The one who holds the larger piece in his hand has one wish free.

Another tradition is the ceremony in which the President receives the turkeys destined for the White House. This ritual, which is accompanied by the press, has existed since the term of President Harry S. Trumann. George Bush Senior extended this act by "pardoning" some of the animals in jest - a gesture that his successors have been making ever since.

Many families also watch the Thanksgiving Parade in New York City on television. The parade in New York City traditionally starts at 77th Street. Then the parade runs west of Central Park along 6th Street. Avenue and ends at Macy's Shopping Mall.