Thanksgiving is a national holiday—international if you count Canadian celebrations. That shouldn’t, however, stop you from bringing the best of local food, drink, and crafts to your table.
1. THE NON-TRADITIONAL SIDE DISH
Just because kaddo is a traditional Afghan dish doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed with Minnesota pumpkins.
First, make simple syrup by combining a 1-to-1 ratio of water and sugar, and heating until sugar dissolves.
Next, make yogurt sauce: mix together 1 c. plain yogurt, 1 tsp. chopped garlic, ½ tsp. chopped ginger, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, and salt to taste.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Remove the seeds from a small sugar pumpkin and cut into quarters. Cut each quarter into 8 pieces.
Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a cast-iron pan and brown pumpkin in batches for 5 minutes on both sides. Add 2 c. simple syrup to pumpkin and stir to coat.
Cover pan and bake until pumpkin is soft, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and top with yogurt sauce before serving.
2. THE WINE
Spirits writer John Garland serves as a judge at the International Cold Climate Wine Competition and recommends two local wines to pair with Thanksgiving meals. He describes a Waconia-grown Zinfandel stand-in, the Marquette from Parley Lake Winery, as “smooth and jammy with soft blueberries, and a spicy, white pepper/anise finish from stints in Appalachian oak.” As for a white, he likes the Sogn Blanc from Cannon River Winery for its “stone-fruit flavors and faint sweetness that would complement the yams and cranberries on the table.”
3. THE BEER
If you want your beer to salute your bird, Ryan Widuch of the new Elevated Beer, Wine & Spirits shop in Minneapolis suggests Lift Bridge Brewing’s Chestnut Hill. “It’s a nicely balanced brown ale that would let the turkey’s nuance shine through,” he says. “Toasted malt and rich roasted nutty flavors combine and finish clean.”
4. THE TURKEY
Free-range heritage turkeys present a fuller-flavored, generally more humane alternative to mass-produced industrial birds. Erik Sather, meat and seafood manager for Seward Co-op, carries pasture-raised, antibiotic-free turkeys from Ferndale Farms—available starting November 15—which he likes for their richer, juicier meat.
5. THE SIGNATURE COCKTAIL
Our old reliable Cranberry Vodka Tonic is visually stunning, palate-pleasing, and made with cranberries from Wetherby, just across the border in Warrens, Wisconsin—home of the fruit’s annual festival.
Chop 12 oz. fresh or thawed cranberries in a food processor.
Move to a large, sealable container and mix in extra-concentrated simple syrup (1 ½ c. of sugar and 1 c. of water heated and stirred on low heat until the sugar dissolves, then cooled), and 3 c. vodka and let stand in a dark place for 2 to 3 weeks, stirring occasionally.
Strain out your solids, and voilà—homemade cranberry-infused vodka.
To make your cocktail, take a shot-and-a-half cranberry vodka, a cranberry ice cube (fill large ice-cube trays halfway, add a few cranberries and let the cubes half-freeze, then top off with more water and freeze completely), and tonic to fill the glass.
6. THE UNEXPECTED SNACK
Liver pâté is easy to make with either chicken or pork liver purchased at local meat markets such as Everett’s, or you can let Surdyk’s make the course country loaf or decadent spread for you. Serve pâté on a crusty baguette and accent with jam from Lucille’s Kitchen Garden, plus scallions or chives.
7. THE DESSERT
Make a pecan pie using your favorite recipe, but substitute Minnesota-made grade B or darker real maple syrup for the corn syrup for a richer depth of flavor. If you’d rather purchase a pie, you can’t go wrong with Keys Cafe and Bakery.
8. THE HOST OR HOSTESS GIFT
Bring over a Stirsby, a wooden utensil crafted by woodworker John Danicic and available at a variety of local stores, including the Walker Art Center gift shop in Minneapolis and the Golden Fig in St. Paul. This clever spatula-like device is mildly baffling until you use it, at which point you fall in love with its light weight, comfortable form factor, and effortless accuracy.