FeaturesOct/Nov 2012 Issue

Giving Thanks: Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Feast

A mouthwatering feast for all to enjoy

Thanksgiving is a time of family, friendship and gratitude, the celebration of abundance. It is also a time of tradition.

In my family, the tradition extends beyond dinner. Every year, each member of the family participates in the Thanksgiving preparations in some way. My husband and sons set up the tables for dinner, drinks and desserts. The grandchildren make place cards and help bake pies. My daughter-in-law and best friend help me prepare food the night before and our guests carry food to the table, light candles and fill water glasses in that last mad dash before dinner. The preparations are as much a tradition as the meal itself.

Thanksgiving is big in my family. It’s our favorite holiday, hands down. The menu hasn’t changed over the years. In fact, my husband and children have threatened to stage a formal protest should I ever alter this, their favorite of all meals.

The only thing that’s different is now every dish is entirely gluten free.

Being gluten free is no reason to feel deprived on Thanksgiving. Years ago, I decided that I would no longer risk becoming ill from cross contamination by bringing gluten into my home for Thanksgiving. I committed to preparing the exact same traditional dinner I always had, just without the gluten. As a result, I’m able to enjoy my favorite meal and no one feels short-changed.

An important Thanksgiving tradition is to reflect upon the things we’re thankful for. I’m thankful that I have a loving and supportive family that cares about the traditions we’ve forged throughout the years and that enjoys time together. I’m thankful that after years of confusion and frustration, I finally found the solution to my health issues with the gluten-free diet. And I’m thankful for the abundance of living gluten free and for the opportunity to share with others my love of family, food and tradition.

You can proudly serve this gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner to your guests. To this basic menu, add your favorite cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, perhaps another pie and an appetizer or two.


turkey © DNY59/iStockphoto

Sage Brined Roasted Turkey


Turkey can make or break Thanksgiving. Over the years, I’ve played around with the best way to get a beautifully browned, juicy turkey and discovered that brining and proper roasting and basting techniques are the answer. The little bit of extra effort involved in brining results in a succulent, juicy turkey. Start brining the turkey the day before. If you can’t fit the turkey in the refrigerator while it’s brining, use a large cooler. My family enjoys stuffing cooked inside the bird but if you prefer to roast your turkey unstuffed, less roasting time is required.

12 cups water, divided
1 cup kosher salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons dried sage
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bunch fresh sage leaves
4 cups ice
1 (16–20 pound) fresh turkey, neck and giblets removed
1¼ cups unsalted butter or dairy-free butter alternative, divided
2 cups Chardonnay wine
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
-Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

1. The day before roasting the turkey, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add salt and sugar and stir to dissolve. Add apple cider vinegar, dried sage, thyme, rosemary, peppercorns and fresh sage and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a 5-gallon pot or bucket. Add the remaining 8 cups water and ice and let cool completely. Rinse the turkey and place breast side down in the brine. Place in the refrigerator or a cooler (with ice in the cooler) and brine the turkey for 12 to 18 hours. If brine doesn’t completely cover the bird, turn the turkey every few hours.

2. The morning on the day you plan to serve the turkey, remove it from the brine. Rinse it well with cold water (make sure to rinse inside the turkey, as well) and pat dry with paper towels (inside and out). Let the turkey sit for 30 minutes.

3. Melt 1 cup butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the wine, stirring to combine. Set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 450°F with rack on the bottom.

5. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon pepper in the neck and large cavity of the turkey. Stuff both cavities lightly with as much stuffing as they hold but do not over pack. Rub the turkey with ¼ cup softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons pepper and poultry seasoning. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, breast side up. Fold the wings under the bird, fold the neck flap under and secure with a toothpick and tie the legs together with a piece of kitchen string.

6. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and soak in the wine and butter mixture. Gently squeeze out most of the liquid and place cheesecloth over the breast and half way down the side of the turkey. Spoon more butter-wine mixture onto the cheesecloth.

7. Place turkey in preheated oven, legs first, and cook for 30 minutes. Baste the turkey with more butter-wine mixture. Then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake another 2½ hours, basting the turkey every 30 minutes with the butter-wine mixture. If too much liquid fills the roasting pan, remove it with a turkey baster and add it back to the butter-wine mixture.

8. Remove and discard the cheesecloth. Place the turkey back into the oven, breast side in. Baste again. Continue to roast for another 1 to 1½ hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F, basting every 30 minutes. If the breast starts to get too brown, loosely place a piece of foil over it.

9. When the turkey is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and place it on a serving platter, covered loosely with foil. Let it rest 30 minutes before carving. Remove the toothpick and string. Scoop the stuffing out of both cavities and place it in a serving dish.

Each 3-ounce serving (dark meat, without skin) contains 156 calories, 6g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 72mg cholesterol, 66mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 24g protein.
Each 3-ounce serving (light meat, withoutskin) contains 132 calories, 3g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 57mg cholesterol, 54mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 24g protein.



Photo courtesy of Carol Kicinski

Savory Turkey Gravy


I have a small kitchen and there’s always so much going on that last half hour before Thanksgiving dinner is served that I have taken to making my gravy ahead and keeping it warm. This saves me a lot of stress but means I don’t use the pan drippings from the turkey. To use pan drippings, pour drippings into a large measuring cup and let it sit until a layer of fat forms on the top. Skim the fat and use that instead of butter or oil and use the turkey juices mixed with enough gluten-free chicken stock to make 2¼ cups.

-Giblets and neck from the turkey
4 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
2¼ cups gluten-free chicken stock (or turkey drippings +stock), divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrow root powder
2 medium white or yellow onions, chopped
½ cup unsalted butter, dairy-free butter alternative or turkey fat
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons heavy cream, optional

1. Place the neck and giblets in a saucepan with 4 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 1 hour, uncovered. Remove the neck and giblets and let cool. Remove any meat from the neck and chop it, along with the giblets. Set aside. (Discard cooking liquid.)

2. Mix ¼ cup chicken stock with the cornstarch or arrowroot and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, cook the onions with butter over medium-low heat until very soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add remaining chicken stock, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Increase heat and bring to a moderate boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring back to a boil. Continue to boil the gravy, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick. Add the cream, if desired, and reserved giblets. Stir well and taste for seasoning. Add a little more salt, pepper or poultry seasoning, to taste. Serve warm.

Each ¼ cup serving (made with fat-free broth) contains 129 calories, 10g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 82mg cholesterol, 586mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 5g protein. To lower sodium, reduce salt and use low-sodium broth.


Gluten-Free Cornbread Sausage Stuffing


There is a decidedly Southern twist to this stuffing. The gluten-free cornbread mix makes it simple. Prepare the cornbread the night before, crumble it and then let it sit out overnight to dry out; this way it will soak up all the fabulous flavor of the sausage, vegetables and stock. This recipe can be made egg-free with good results.


2 cups gluten-free cornbread mix
2 large eggs
1½ cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar


1 (16-ounce) package country sausage, crumbled
1 cup unsalted butter, dairy-free butter alternative or olive oil, divided
1 medium bunch celery, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
3 small leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 large eggs, beaten
1½ tablespoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1-2 cups gluten-free chicken stock, divided

1. The night before roasting the turkey, prepare Cornbread: Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with gluten-free non-stick cooking spray. Whisk cornbread mix, eggs, water, vegetable oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl just until combined. A few lumps are ok. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cornbread cool. Then crumble it onto a baking dish and let it dry out overnight.

2. The morning of roasting the turkey, place cornbread crumbles in a large mixing bowl.

3. Heat the sausage over medium heat until fully cooked. Pour off the fat and add ½ cup butter, dairy-free butter or olive oil. Add the chopped celery, onions and leeks. Cook until the vegetables are translucent but not too browned, about 10 minutes. Place the sausage-vegetable mixture into the bowl with the cornbread crumbles.

4. Melt ¼ cup butter. Add it to mixture, along with the eggs, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add just enough chicken stock to make the mixture moist but not mushy.

5. Stuff the turkey cavities with some of the stuffing, being careful not to overfill. Place the rest of the stuffing into a greased casserole dish. Pour about ¼ cup more stock over the top of the stuffing in the casserole dish. Dot the top with the remaining ¼ cup butter that has been cut into small pieces or drizzle with remaining ¼ cup olive oil. Place dish in 350° oven and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Each serving contains 292 calories, 20g total fat, 11g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 85mg cholesterol, 532mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 7g protein. To lower sodium, eliminate salt and use low-sodium broth.

For Egg-Free Cornbread, omit eggs and reduce water by ¼ cup. Mix 3 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer with 4 tablespoons warm water. Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water to make a paste. Combine egg replacement mixture and cornstarch mixture; use this to replace eggs in step 1.

For Egg-Free Stuffing, omit 2 eggs.Combine ¼ cup cornstarch and 1 tablespoon arrowroot with 3 tablespoons cold stock or cold water to make a paste. Use to replace eggs in step 4.



Spinach Gratin


Frozen chopped spinach is one of the best culinary deals around; it would take mounds and mounds of fresh spinach and lots of effort to produce the amount of spinach called for in this recipe. The great news is that no one will know the difference. These creamy greens with just a hint of nutmeg are a wonderful complement to roasted turkey.

This can be made ahead up to the point where the dish goes into the oven; just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before final cooking.

5 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, dairy- free butter alternative or olive oil
2 large white onions, chopped
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon coarse salt or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca starch/flour
2 cups unflavored cold milk of choice, divided
1 cup heavy cream or milk of choice
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or dairy-free alternative*
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese or dairy- free alternative*

1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch (or similar size) baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Place the spinach in a colander and squeeze out the liquid.

3. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent but not browned, about 15 minutes. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 more minutes.

4. Mix cornstarch or tapioca starch with about ¼ cup cold milk.

5. Combine Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses.

6. Add rest of milk and heavy cream to onion mixture and cook until hot, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch and milk mixture and cook until sauce has thickened. Add spinach and half the cheese mixture and mix well.

7. Transfer the spinach to prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheeses.

8. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Each serving contains 205 calories, 14g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 44mg cholesterol, 852mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 4 fiber, 11g protein. To lower sodium, reduce or eliminate salt.

*TIP For a flavorful dairy-free cheese alternative, use 1¾ cups shredded dairy-free cheese mixed with ¼ cup nutritional yeast. Reduce or omit salt.



Gluten-Free Green Beans with Balsamic Onions


Balsamic onions elevate ordinary green bean to extraordinary. Make the onions the night before and refrigerate them in a covered container. Reheat in the microwave just before serving.

6 large onions (about 2½ pounds), peeled, each cut vertically through root end into 12 or 14 wedges
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups gluten-free chicken broth
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 pounds slender green beans, ends trimmed

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Arrange onion wedges in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Bake until onions are dark brown, stirring once or twice, about 40 to 45 minutes.

3. While onions are baking, boil chicken broth in a large, heavy skillet over high heat until reduced to ½ cup, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil.

4. Add the onions to the sauce; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until liquid is reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes. (This sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat in a saucepan over low heat or in microwave until hot.)

5. Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling, salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well.

6. Return beans to the same pot and add remaining tablespoon olive oil, tossing to coat. (If making ahead, cook beans for about 4 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Wrap in paper towels and then in plastic wrap and refrigerate until just before serving. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet or pot; add green beans and re-heat.) Serve beans in a large, shallow bowl topped with onions.

Each serving contains 120 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 359mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 3g protein. To lower sodium, reduce or eliminate salt.



© Carol Kicinski

Gluten-Free Soft Dinner Rolls


The last holdout to my Thanksgiving dinner menu was the rolls. It wasn’t until I figured out how to make gluten-free dinner rolls that were soft and fluffy that I was able to serve a completely gluten-free Thanksgiving.

These rolls can be made ahead. Bake them and let them cool in the pans; wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Warm for a few minutes in a 350° oven and serve. This recipe can be made egg-free with good results.

2 tablespoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups warm unflavored milk of choice (105°F-110°F)
1½ cups superfine or Asian white rice flour*
½ cup superfine or Asian sweet rice flour* (also called glutinous rice flour)
¾ cup potato starch* (not potato flour)
½ cup tapioca starch/flour*
3 teaspoons xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 large eggs, + 1 egg (optional) for brushing tops
¼ cup butter or dairy-free butter substitute, melted, more for brushing pans
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1. Combine yeast, sugar and warm milk in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar. Let sit 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture is foamy and has increased in volume.

2. Combine flours, starches, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix for 30 seconds on medium-low to combine and break up any lumps in the potato starch.

3. Add the yeast mixture, 2 eggs, melted butter, honey and vinegar. Mix on medium-low until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Then turn the mixer on high and mix for 3 minutes. Batter should be very thick and smooth.

4. Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush 2 standard muffin pans with melted butter or spray with gluten-free, non-stick cooking spray.

5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling about ¾ full. Alternately, use a small (#60) ice cream scoop and place 3 scoops in each muffin tin (like a clover leaf). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let rise for 35 minutes or until dough has almost doubled in size.

6. If desired, beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water until thoroughly blended. Gently brush the tops of each roll with egg mixture.

7. Place rolls in preheated oven and bake 17 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.

Each roll contains 125 calories, 3g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 33mg cholesterol, 227mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 3g protein.

For Egg-Free Soft Dinner Rolls, omit 2 eggs. Combine 1 tablespoon flax meal with 3 tablespoons warm water; let sit for 5 minutes until thickened. Add mixture to yeast mixture in step 3. Add 1 tablespoon arrowroot to dry ingredients.

*TIP In place of flours and starches, use 3¼ cups of a good-quality, all-purpose gluten- free flour blend. If your flour blend already contains xanthan gum and salt, omit these ingredients from the recipe.



Sweet Potatoes with Homemade Marshmallow Topping


This is a sophisticated version of classic sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. Making your own marshmallow topping may seem over the top but it’s worth it. Not only does it taste better, this marshmallow topping is free of refined sugar and corn.

Marshmallow Topping

6 tablespoons cold water
5 teaspoons (2 packets) unflavored gelatin
1 cup light agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sweet Potatoes

4-5 pounds sweet potatoes, cubed
¼ cup unsalted butter or dairy-free butter alternative
½ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons brown sugar
6–8 tablespoons unflavored milk of choice

1. To make Marshmallow Topping, combine water and gelatin and microwave for 30 seconds on high. Place mixture in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add agave, salt and vanilla. Turn mixer on low to combine ingredients. Then turn to highest speed and beat for 15 minutes. Reserve.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 10x14 -inch baking dish with gluten-free, non-stick cooking spray.

3. Place cubed sweet potatoes in a large saucepan filled with lightly salted cold water. Bring to a boil and continue to boil until sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes, discarding liquid.

4. Add butter, salt, pepper and brown sugar to sweet potatoes and mash with a potato masher or hand-held mixer. Beat in enough milk to make a smooth, creamy consistency.

5. Spread mixture evenly into prepared baking dish. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.

6. Spread Marshmallow Topping over top and bake another 5 to 7 minutes or until topping is melted and browned.

Each serving contains 269 calories, 4g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 11mg cholesterol, 208mg sodium, 56g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 3g protein.


© Carol Kicinski

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie


It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie and your special diet is no reason to leave it off the menu. The recipe calls for coconut milk but there is no coconut flavor to this traditional pie. It tastes best when made the night before and allowed to sit in the refrigerator. This recipe can be made egg-free with good results.

2 large eggs
1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
1 (9-inch) Pie Crust, unbaked

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in pumpkin, sugars, cinnamon, salt, ginger, cloves and vanilla extract. Gradually whisk in coconut milk until well blended.

3. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn oven temperature down to 350°F and continue to bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

4. Allow pie to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Easy Pie Crust


The method here is as important as the recipe. The trick to perfect pie crust is cold! Place your butter or shortening in the freezer before adding it to the flour mixture and use ice-cold water. It’s also important not to add too much water. For a flaky crust, add only enough water for the dough to hold its shape when squeezed in your hand. Then let the dough rest in the refrigerator before rolling it out so that moisture can be evenly distributed.

½ cup unsalted butter or solid vegetable shortening
2-4 tablespoons water
1¼ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend of choice, more for rolling
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if included in your flour blend)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (omit if included in your flour blend)
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Cut butter or shortening into ½-inch pieces and place them in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes. Add some ice cubes to the water and let it get ice-cold while preparing the dry ingredients.

2. Combine flour blend, xanthan gum, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5 to 6 times to combine.

3. Add cold butter or shortening and pulse 6 to 8 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces of butter.

4. With processor running, add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture just barely starts to clump together. If you squeeze some of the crumbly dough together in your hand and it holds, then you have enough water. If not, add more water, a little at a time. (Don’t add any more water than is absolutely necessary.)

5. Remove dough from the machine and form into a disk. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as 2 to 3 days. (Since dough tends to be crumbly, it’s easiest to pour it into a large food storage bag and form it into a disk using the bag to help. Then seal the bag and put it in the refrigerator.) Remove dough from refrigerator 5 minutes before rolling.

6. To roll out dough, lay a piece of waxed paper on a work surface and sprinkle with gluten-free flour. Place chilled disk on floured paper, sprinkle with more flour and top with another piece of waxed paper. Roll dough into a circle approximately 12 inches wide. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and carefully place dough, dough side down, into a 9-inch pie plate. Remove the waxed paper. Push the dough very gently down to line the bottom and sides of the pie plate. If dough splits or breaks apart, just push it back together. Trim the edge of the pie crust to about ½-¾ inch overhang. Tuck the overhang under and pinch dough into a decorative finish.

Each serving of pie contains 388 calories, 23g total fat, 17g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 83mg cholesterol, 467mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 4g protein.

For Egg-Free Pumpkin Pie, omit 2 eggs. Add 3 tablespoons arrowroot to dry ingredients. Combine 2 tablespoons flax meal with 6 tablespoons warm water or coconut milk; let sit for 5 minutes until thickened. Add this mixture to other ingredients in step 2. Reduce coconut milk to 1 cup (8 ounces). Bake pie in preheated oven up to 75 minutes until done. If crust browns too fast, cover with foil after reducing temperature. When cool, chill in refrigerator until cold or overnight. Pie will “gel” when cold. It can be served cold or at room temperature.

TIP If you don’t have a food processor, whisk dry ingredients together. Then rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers and add the water, combining ingredients with a fork. Work quickly to keep butter from softening.

Carol Kicinski is a professional gluten-free recipe developer, cookbook author and creator of the award-winning blog, Simply Gluten-Free (simplygluten-free.com).

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