Last Thanksgiving was the first time that a client of mine asked me to prepare a gluten free menu for Thanksgiving. “Oh my!, I thought. After all, everybody knows that Thanksgiving is all about the carbs! We diet for weeks just to have all the breads, rolls, stuffing, cakes, pies and all things baked that we can stuff in our stomachs for that one feast. The feast that last throughout a four day weekend.
As a “flavor fanatic”, I could not imagine having to prepare that kind of meal for 20 people and expect the usual applause following the dessert service. At this point, my reputation is at stake. I’ve been booked with this family for 9 months. Furthermore, I’ve already been paid. Some families book for holiday dinners a year in advance. Failure was not an option. I began to play with flavor profiles and tried to match the traditional menu with gluten free substitutions. That was a terrible idea! So, I scratched it all and started over. I played with many nouveau cuisine options.
Finally, I thought about how the first Thanksgiving must have been. Clean flavors with whole grans and lots of dried and fresh ingredients. Something like this: Endive Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Candied Ginger with Orange Zest; Kale and Sweet Potato Soup with Apple-Chicken Sausage; Orange-Honey Glazed Roasted Organic Turkey; Cornbread Stuffing in Roasted Acorn topped with Fresh Parmesan; Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Cranberries; Sauteed Sweet Corn with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis; Sauteed Hericot Verts with Mushrooms; Savory Pumpkin Bread with Rosemary and Garlic; Individual Apple Crisp topped with Homemade Mango Sorbet; Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Pies on Oatmeal Crust. Yes! The aromas were appetizing and amazing.
Without fear, I waited to hear the response from the servers working with me. Once, I’ve served a meal, I can not retract or undo my creation. It’s only for me to take pride in my work and accept the success or failure. In all humility, I am happy to report that they loved the meal. In fact, I got more clients from that dinner alone. Preparing gluten free meals are still not my favorite menus to create just because they require more planning and flavor profiling. However, they are my most rewarding because, I know that the diners are safe with my choices and it is my goal to present the most flavorful meal possible while keeping guidelines for the dietary needs of my guest. These recipes will not leave you with that feeling of being stuffed like the traditional Thanksgiving turkey menus. This menu is a good alternative to the norm, and you do experience a feast both visually and flavorsome of the season’s bounty. Just like the gathers of the first Thanksgiving more than 392 years ago.
We like celebrating all seasons at our Washington, DC Inn. Therefore, we are happy to share any of our recipes with our friends. If you’d like to try any of the Gluten Free Menu Items listed in the Thanksgiving Menu, just drop us a line and we will share them with you.
Chef Lisa, Innkeeper
American Guest House
A Washington, DC Bed and Breakfast