Paleo Thanksgiving Recipes

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A paleo thanksgiving

It’s the time of the year again where families all around North-America reunite and celebrate together the autumn harvesting season with thanksgiving. If you’re receiving this year, it’s the perfect time to show your guests what the Paleo diet is all about and that healthy food is in fact also really tasty.

The stars around thanksgiving are the meat and vegetables usually seen in North-America at this time of the year. Turkey, beef, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, cranberries, mushrooms and apples are all standard fare.

What I’ve decided to do here is create a complete menu including the main thanksgiving turkey with the sauce, stuffing and cranberry sauce as well as another main of juicy rib roast, appetizers, vegetable sides and even a classic dessert, the pumpkin pie. All this in Paleo fashion.

Of course, simple olive, fruit and cheese platters are also welcomed by everybody to snack on, but the recipes included here will produce enough food to fill even the hungriest.

Some thanksgiving recipes are already perfectly Paleo, but yet some needed to be adapted somewhat. The cranberry sauce presented here is a tarter version than the traditional one, but I think it’s an even more interesting taste to contrast with the turkey and stuffing. The stuffing, for its part, is made out of lean ground beef instead of bread and is absolutely amazing and tasty. Be aware that some of your guests will probably want to steal your recipe. Finally, the pumpkin pie is made on a nut crust and is lightly sweetened with some honey instead of being a massive sugar vehicle.

I hope that you and your family will enjoy preparing and eating those delicious recipes and that your house will become the favorite place to have a thanksgiving dinner for the whole family.

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Paleo thanksgiving menu

The Turkey

The turkey is the centerpiece of most thanksgiving dinners and is at the heart of this November tradition. The wild turkey being native to the North-American forests, I couldn’t think of a better animal to feast on to celebrate the local harvest.

Of course, now that Thanksgiving has been commercialized and some of its essence lost, so is the traditional turkey. Now turkeys are selected for larger and larger breasts for more and more white meat, probably because of our global fear of fat. This means, unless you source some heritage turkey or hunt wild turkey yourself, that you’ll have to pay more attention during the cooking process not to end with dry meat. You’ll want to make sure not to overcook it and to baste it really often. A kitchen syringe is also a good idea here, to inject some juices into the meat itself.

It goes without saying that getting a turkey that as been properly raised and fed is really important not only for the advantage in taste, but also the health benefits of a better fat ratio and fewer toxins. The difference is worth the price.

Button mushroomMushroom butter roasted turkey

The little twist in this roast turkey recipe is in the use of dried wild mushrooms to create a delicious flavored butter that will help cook the turkey and also be an integral part of the final sauce to serve with the bird. The sauce is created with the cooking juice so it’s very simple to prepare without even thinking about it.

Ingredients

Turkey

  1. One 10-12 lb turkey;
  2. Garlic powder;
  3. Ground dried thyme;
  4. Poultry mix or finely chopped fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, and marjoram;
  5. 1/2 cup chicken stock;
  6. 1/2 cup good quality and sugar-free BBQ sauce (can be homemade);

Wild mushroom butter

  1. 1 1/4 cups dried wild mushrooms;
  2. 1/4 lb room temperature butter or clarified butter;
  3. 1 tbsp white wine;

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 F.
  2. Grind the dried mushrooms in a coffee grinder to a powder.  Mix that powder in a bowl with the soft butter or ghee and add the whine and mix again.
  3. Clean and pat dry your turkey. Remove the organs if still present in the cavity. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan.
  4. Cut the skin at a few places on the bird and place some of the wild mushroom butter between the skin and the flesh with a small spoon or a kitchen syringe.
  5. Season the bird generously with garlic powder, dried thyme, the fresh herbs or poultry mix and black pepper. Also add the rest of the mushroom butter on the surface of the turkey.
  6. Place a loose sheet of aluminium paper on top of the turkey and put it in the oven.
  7. Reduce the heat to 350 F immediately after putting the turkey in the oven. Cook for about 18 minutes per pound. 3 hours and a half in our case. Season with salt and pepper after 30 minutes of cooking.
  8. Baste the bird about every 20 minutes to make sure the meat stays moist.
  9. You can remove the aluminium paper an hour before the end of the cooking process to obtain a golden and crispy skin.
  10. Remove the turkey from the oven when fully cooked and set the turkey aside, out from the roasting pan and covered with the sheet of aluminium paper.
  11. Place the pan on the stove top on a medium heat and deglaze with the chicken stock. Add the BBQ sauce.
  12. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.
  13. Serve the sauce immediately with the turkey.


Cranberry sauce

Turkey is almost always served with a sugary cranberry sauce at thanksgiving, but this sauce doesn’t have to contain that much sugar to be delicious. Of course, cranberries on their own are very tart, but in this recipe a cup of orange juice is added for a nice orange test and to cut on the tartness. No extra sugar needed. As an added bonus, this sauce is so easy to prepare, you could probably do it eyes closed. This recipe gives a cranberry sauce that’s a bit more tart than usual, but you’ll probably end up liking it even more than the cranberry sauce you used to know.

At this time of the year, you shouldn’t have any problem finding fresh cranberries, but you can always use frozen ones in the case you can’t find any.

Cranberry sauce

Ingredients

  1. 1 lb fresh raw cranberries;
  2. 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice;

Preparation

  1. Place the cranberries and orange juice in a pot and slowly bring to a boil, making sure to stir from time to time.
  2. As the cranberries cook, they will eventually pop. When all the cranberries have popped, the sauce is ready.
  3. Cool in the refrigerator and serve with your thanksgiving turkey.


Beef, celery, walnut & apple stuffing

Who says turkey stuffing absolutely has to be made out of bread? This version made with lean ground beef, celery, apples and walnuts tastes amazing and is way, way healthier. The ground beef has to be very lean not because we are scared of the fat in any way, but because the fat changes the taste and texture and creates something much different looking and tasting than a traditional stuffing. With the celery, apples and spices used, the aroma and texture will be very similar to the traditional stuffing. Cooked outside the bird, stuffing was traditionally called dressing, but now the names seem to be interchangeable. The usual spices used in a turkey stuffing are often sold in a mixture called a poultry mix and include rosemary, sage, thyme, and marjoram. Of course, the result will be much better if you chop yourself fresh herbs than if you buy a mix of dried a dried version of them.
Beef, celery and walnut stuffing

Ingredients

  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef;
  • 1 tbsp cooking fat;
  • 4 stalks celery, diced;
  • 1 medium onion, diced;
  • 1 apple, diced;
  • 2 cups finely chopped walnuts;
  • 1 clove garlic, minced;
  • Generous amount of poultry mix or springs of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, and marjoram, very finely chopped;
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 F.
  2. In a large pan, sauté to ground beef and celery with the cooking fat for about 3 minutes. Make sure to crumble the ground beef to small pieces.
  3. Add the diced apple and onion and continue sautéing for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the fresh herbs or poultry mix, minced garlic, walnuts and season with salt and pepper. Mix well. The meat should still be somewhat pink, it’ll finish cooking in the oven.
  5. Put the mixture in a baking dish and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes in the preheated oven.


Beef rib roast with green peppercorn sauce

Rib roast is another thanksgiving classic and a great second main to serve if you have a very large family and turkey alone turns out not to be enough. A prime beef rib roast is often an expensive piece but it results in a meat that’s so delicious and juicy that you’ll remember this year’s thanksgiving for a long time if you prepare this recipe.

The cooking process creates a wonderful juice that we’ll use to create the sauce with the addition of green peppercorns.

Ingredients

  1. One 4 ribs beef roast (about 6 lb);
  2. 1 onion, chopped;
  3. 3 garlic cloves, minced;
  4. 1 medium carrot, sliced;
  5. 1/2 cup red wine;
  6. 1 cup beef stock;
  7. 2 tbsp green peppercorns;
  8. Dried thyme;
  9. Butter, lard or tallow pieces;

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut some of the exceeding fat on the rib points and the roast itself. This fat will help in creating the sauce latter on.
  3. Put the fat parts you just removed in a roasting pan, add the carrot, garlic, onion and thyme and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Add some generous knobs of butter or your chosen cooking fat.
  4. Place the pan in the oven and roast the mixture for about 20 minutes, until golden.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven, place the roast on top of the vegetables and fat parts and season it with salt, pepper and some more thyme. Add three generous knobs of your chosen cooking fat.
  6. Place the pan with the roast back in the oven and roast for 45 minutes.
  7. Lower the oven temperature to 350 F and cook for another 45 minutes for a medium-rare roast.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the roast from the pan. Set the roast aside, loosely covered with a piece of parchment or aluminium paper for about 15 minutes.
  9. In the mean time, put the roasting pan on the stove top and deglaze it with the red wine, making sure the scrape the pan well with a wooden spoon. Boil and reduce the liquid to 1/3.
  10. Add the beef stock and boil for another 5 minutes.
  11. Add the green peppercorns and crush them with the back of a fork.
  12. If desired, the sauce can be strained to remove the peppercorn bits. It’s perfectly fine otherwise and gives a more rustic final sauce.
  13. Serve the hot sauce immediately with slices of rib roast.


Deviled eggs with bacon bits

Deviled eggs are a classic thanksgiving appetizer and they have the advantage of being very easily prepared so you have more time to spend with the turkey or your guests. They’re also universally loved, especially in this recipe where bacon bits are added and you’ll even have to watch on the kids so they won’t end up being full before the main course is served.
Deviled eggs with bacon bits

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs;
  • 1/2 cup paleo mayonnaise;
  • 1 tbsp mustard;
  • 1 tbsp cumin;
  • 6 slices bacon;
  • Paprika for garnishing;
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

Preparation

  1. Cook the bacon slices in a pan over a medium heat until crispy. When the bacon is ready, let cool.
  2. Crumble the bacon to small bits.
  3. Place eggs in a pot filled with cold water.
  4. Bring to a boil and let boil for 12 minutes.
  5. After the 12 minutes, remove from the heat, drain and run some cold water immediately on the eggs. The cold water will cool the eggs so you can work with them, but will also stop the cooking process. You’ll often see overcooked eggs with a grey-colored edge to the yolks.
  6. Once the eggs are cold enough to handle, peel them and cut them in half.
  7. Carefully scoop out the yolks and mash them in a bowl with the mayonnaise, mustard, bacon bits, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. With either a spoon or a makeshift piping bag made with a plastic sandwich bag with a cut off corner, fill in the cavity of the egg white halves with the yolk, mayonnaise and bacon filling.
  9. Garnish with some paprika and some of your favorite fresh herbs.


Crab stuffed mushrooms

Mushrooms are often forgotten on a Paleo diet, but they are definitely a healthy and tasty additions. On top of it, they’re widely available and cheap. This is another easy to prepare, yet fancy appetizer that will be perfect for your guests to start changing their minds about your diet choices if they used to think that the Paleo diet isn’t tasty or is only for extremists. Mushrooms are often stuffed with some form of cheese, but these crab stuffed ones are just as delicious. Simple white button mushrooms are perfect here, but feel free to use any mushroom you have handy and that you can use to put some stuffing inside.

Crab stuffed mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 20 button mushrooms, stems and gills removed;
  • 2 cups cooked crab meat, canned or fresh and finely chopped;
  • 3 tbsp chives, minced;
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced;
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano;
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme;
  • 1/4 tsp homemade mayonnaise or the same amount of your favorite mustard;
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix all the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Scoop a generous portion of the stuffing into each mushroom cavity and bake in the preheated oven on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes.
  4. Let cool a bit, but serve when still warm.


Roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary

Typically, a starchy side of either macaroni,  mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes is served on thanksgiving. To make things a little different while keeping the spirit of bulkier and orange autumn vegetables, I’ve included here a roasted cubed sweet potato with rosemary side. Rosemary is a strong-flavored woody herb that’s perfect for the occasion. Other than a great taste, rosemary also features strong anti-oxidant properties, but feel free to use any woody herb like thyme or sage in place of the rosemary in this recipe.

If available to you, yams are a good substitution for the sweet potatoes. Be aware though that sweet potatoes are often confused for yams in North-America and that true yams are quite rare.

Roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary

Ingredients

  1. 1 lb sweet potatoes or yams, cut into 1 inch cubes;
  2. 1 large sprig of picked rosemary leaves;
  3. 3 tbsp lard, duck or goose fat;
  4. 5 cloves garlic, skin still on, but smashed;
  5. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F.
  2. In a pot filled with salted cold water, place the sweet potato cubes and bring to a roiling boil. As soon as it boils, drain the potatoes in a colander and let steam and dry a bit in it.
  3. Meanwhile, using a mortar and pestle, grind the rosemary leaves somewhat.
  4. Heat a roasting pan on the stove top of medium-low heat, add the fat, rosemary, sweet potato cubes and season with salt and pepper. Without cooking anything, mix everything well together.
  5. Place the roasting pan in the oven and roast for about 20 to 25 minutes, until crispy and tender. Stir the potatoes occasionally during the cooking process for an even cooking.


Tender baked carrots

Orange vegetables are the bomb around thanksgiving time. Sweet potatoes, yams, butternut squash, carrots, the choice is yours. Here is a simple yet delicious side of carrots that you’ll find tastes amazing in spite of the simplicity of the dish.

Tender baked carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter, ghee, lard or duck fat;
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced;
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange;
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves;
  • 1 lb carrots, sliced very thinly;
  • About 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or melted fat;
  • 1 cup chicken stock;
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix the garlic, orange zest and parsley and chop together until very fine.
  3. Rub the inside of a baking dish with your chosen cooking fat and sprinkle some of the garlic, zest, parsley mixture on the dish.
  4. Line the bottom of the dish with a layer of carrot slices, brush some olive oil or cooking fat on top, season lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle some more of the garlic, zest and parsley mixture.
  5. Repeat step 4, layering carrot slices until you go out of carrots. Make sure to add some fat, salt and pepper and sprinkle some of the garlic, zest and parsley mixture between each layer.
  6. Top with the orange juice and just enough chicken stock to cover.
  7. Line a piece of wax paper on top of the carrots so the top layer doesn’t dry out.
  8. Place in the hot oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until carrots are very tender.


Braised cabbage & bacon

This is a simple and delicious side to either the turkey or the beef roast and the bacon adds a savory dimension to this braised cabbage recipe. It acts as the usual green vegetable side served on a thanksgiving dinner. The key here is to have a very finely chopped cabbage and it will cook really fast.

Braised cabbage & bacon

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken stock;
  • 6 slices bacon;
  • Small handful of thyme leaves;
  • 1 medium green cabbage, finely sliced;
  • 4 tbsp butter, ghee, lard or duck fat;

Preparation

  1. Bring the stock, bacon and thyme leaves to a boil in a large pot on the stove top.
  2. Add the cabbage, boil for 5 minutes and then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Simmer the cabbage until just tender to your taste.
  4. Add some stock during the simmering process if you feel it reduced too much.
  5. Add the butter, lard or duck fat, season to taste and serve immediately.


Pumpkin pie

In an effort to bring you a traditional thanksgiving dessert that all the family will adore without questioning your paleo diet background, the pumpkin pie was a clear winner. In fact, pumpkin pie is the quintessential thanksgiving dessert. Of course, the usual pumpkin pie is made with lots of sugar and a flower based crust, but nothing prevents us from making an oven more delicious fresh nut crust with hazelnuts and pecans.

As for the sugar, well, here a compromise is made and the chosen sweetener is honey. While honey is natural and non-toxic, it’s still high in fructose, but the amount you’ll end up eating with your hot and delicious piece of pumpkin pie is really not such a big deal, especially in this time of feast when other, nastier, indulgences are always around the corner. Treat yourself with a large piece of this pie when still hot with a big portion of coconut vanilla ice cream.

This recipe calls for pumpkin puree. You can either buy canned pumpkin puree, making sure it’s the only ingredient or you can roast some fresh pumpkin in a 350 F oven for about an hour to make your own puree.

Pumpkin pie

Ingredients

Crust:

  1. 1 cup pecans;
  2. 1/2 cup hazelnuts;
  3. 4 tbsp butter, ghee or coconut oil (room temperature);
  4. A pinch of sea salt;

Filling:

  1. 1 can fresh or canned pumpkin puree (about 1 3/4 cups);
  2. 2 eggs;
  3. 1/2 cup local raw honey;
  4. 1/2 cup coconut milk;
  5. 2 tsp cinnamon;
  6. 1/4 tsp ground cloves;
  7. 1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger;

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Process the nuts in a food processor to almost a flower consistency. Be careful not to process too much and get a butter instead.
  3. In a bowl, mix the ground nuts with the butter or coconut oil and then spread the crust mixture in a pie pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  4. While the crust bakes, mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl.
  5. Add the filling evenly on the baked crust and bake for an additional 45 minutes.

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