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Thanksgiving


hitchmeer
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Hi all,

I'm up in Utsunomiya teaching English and really enjoying living in Japan. That said, at this time of year I am getting a bit homesick for all the stuff I love to eat at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I really would like to make some sort of Thanksgiving dinner this year, but have no idea what to do as I am ovenless. I know I can do mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, but not sure about the rest of it - I'm wondering if I can get a chicken breast and stuff it with dressing and tie it and then cook it in my roaster, but not sure how that will work. I am actually going to attempt to make pumpkin pie for our school's halloween party (my boss in bringing in her microwave/convection oven), but for myself, I think I will have to make maybe a pumpkin custard or some kind of dessert like that at my home.

Have any of you tried a Thanksgiving meal? What did you do? Ideas would be most welcome.

Cheers,

Matthew, formerly of Minnesota

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When I lived in Korea, I had an oven, which made me extremely popular around this time of year! I always hosted an American Thanksgiving dinner for all my friends - no matter their nationality. We even had four kinds of pie last year!

Now that I've taunted you...

Have you thought about investing in a small toaster oven? (Is that what you meant by a roaster? I'm sorry - I wasn't clear on that) You could do lots of food on a miniaturized scale in one. Obviously, you'd have to use a chicken breast instead of a whole turkey, but it could get you pretty close.

Or, could you pan-fry a chicken breast? Then make little patties of stuffing and fry them - sort of like a hash brown patty? Serious compromises, I know, but you could make some great sauce from the pan, and call that your gravy. With some veg side dishes, you might be able to make believe....

As for dessert...do they have sweet potato cake in Japan? :biggrin: I mean, surely that must be in the same family as pumpkin pie, right?

Although truthfully, I found after a couple of years in Asia, what I really missed was the act of a large communal meal with family and friends. So many teachers live alone, and only see their friends a couple of times a week, usually in bars or restaurants. Just inviting everyone over for a big dinner ( pot of spaghetti, curry, whatever) made me feel like home.

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Or, could you pan-fry a chicken breast?

...or Cornish Game Hen...or you can just stew or simmer a turkey/chicken. Think of it this way, if you stew it, you've saved yourself the arduous task of making soup.

How about a steamed kabocha cake - very easy (1/2 kabocha, 2 eggs, sugar to taste, steam 15 minutes) and you can add the pumpkin spice as you like. You can slice the cake and serve on a cookie?

You can also make a lot of foods we consider "baked" by checking out the tricks of the chuck wagon cookers? --- [edit] Sorry, I realized later that you'll need a dutch oven for that and a heat source to put on the top. How about something like bannock?

Edited by Cheeko (log)
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This year will be my 12th Thanksgiving in Japan.

I have to admit I have always had an oven, albeit one that could never fit a turkey. I am pretty sure the first two years I did some kind of chicken with some kind of stuffing and probably mashed potatoes, but since it isn't a holiday in Japan and I didn't have anyone to invite over I stopped doing anything. 6 years ago a group of friends and I decided to make Thanksgiving dinner at a our friend's house, she and her husbnad were expats here and thus had the American sized expat kitchen. my son however picked that day to be born :biggrin: and I ate Thanksgiving leftovers the next day at the hospital. We didn't do anything again until last year when another friend with a large oven offered to cook the chickens if everyone else brought the sides.

What to do without an oven though? more than half the meal calls for one...

You could probably do some type of stove top casserole (in a fry pan) with sauteed chicken pieces and stuffing. Mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce don't need an oven.

Last year I made this incredible wild rice salad that I found in recipegullet.

Desserts are a little trickier, maybe a pumpkin mousse instead of a pie?

I think I may have decided my meal this year. :biggrin: that is if my friend doesn't offer her house again..

like nakji said it is more about the getting together of family/friends than the actual food itself. This is why I stopped doing it for so many years I just didn't have anyone I really wanted to share the meal with.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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...

What to do without an oven though? more than half the meal calls for one...

You could probably do some type of stove top casserole (in a fry pan) with sauteed chicken pieces and stuffing. Mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce don't need an oven.

Last year I made this incredible wild rice salad that I found in recipegullet.

Desserts are a little trickier, maybe a pumpkin mousse instead of a pie?

...

Nice suggestions, torakris. Add some green peas or green beans with mushrooms. Creamed onions?

For the poultry, I might also consider a tonkatsu or schnitzel type preparation; i.e. a breaded and sauteed chicken or turkey cutlet. You could make a pan gravy a la chicken fried steak ot have with the cutlet and mashed potatoes.

Start off with sweet potato tempura.

Frying is another option for dessert--sweet potato or pumpkin fritters with caramel sauce or apple fritters with the same. A little vanilla ice cream would be nice also. Another fried option are individual southern fried pies--apple, pumpkin, etc. There are some threads on the fried pies, I think.

Other no-bake options for dessert might be a no-bake chiffon style pies if you can find or substitue for something like graham crackers or vanilla wafers, etc. Here's a no bake pie crust using coconut: click

Or simply crepes filled with sauteed apples or pumpkin pie filling and topped with whipped cream and toasted almonds or walnuts.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Recipe for Hindle Wakes - this stove-top stuffed whole chicken is what I made for Christmas the first year I was in Japan. You don't need an oven, but you need a pot such as a pasta pot big enough to hold a whole chicken. If you don't fancy prunes in the stuffing (they are traditional), use your own favorite recipe. This is a good recipe, but the chicken will of course be pale, not golden brown like a roasted chicken.

You can indeed make a stuffed chicken roll. Get a whole skin-on chicken momo (thigh) or mune (breast) piece, and lay it out, skin-side down. Pull out and cut any tendons. Slide your knife horizontally through really thick pieces, and open them out like a book, so that you have a flap of meat extending past the skin. Otherwise, it is too small to make a good-sized roll.

Get some kitchen string ready...

Lay your modest amount of stuffing onto about half the chicken surface (covering the skinless "flap" area, and start rolling from the flap side. You want the flap to end up insie the roll, and all the skin to be on the outside. Fasten with toothpicks or skewers temporarily, roll up with string and tie off, fry till outside is browned, then add water and a little vinegar, and simmer (covered) until tender. Loosen from the pan, but allow to cool somewhat before taking the string off and slicing. Make gravy from the pan juices and pour over.

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I can tell the previous respondents aren't from Kansas City - or perhaps they know something about Japan that I do not - can you smoke/grill? You don't have to have an official smoker - depending on what you have available you can probably craft something. But perhaps it's illegal or implausible where you are. [i do remember getting some odd looks from the neighbors when we lived in Michigan; we shoveled our way outside, brushed the snow off of the ol' Weber and proceeded to make Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently they put their outdoor cookers away in the winter. Who knew?]

Note to torakris: I ruined my mother's Thanksgiving meal by deciding to arrive just as dinner was served. I hope that's no indication of how your son will turn out! :wink:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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A couple of ideas: how about buying a whole rotisserie chicken, or buy a French turkey (about the same size as a large chicken, i've bought them before at Kinokuniya) and use Helenjp's method, or stuff it with ground sausage meat and poach it on the stovetop as the French do.

Edited by ogkodansha (log)
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Hey all:

Thanks for so many great ideas. I think the fried pies would be great for pumpkin and apple. I haven't tried the stove top cooked chicken but would like to try that too - there is a chance I might be swapping microwaves with a fellow teacher who never uses her convection ovens on hers.

Yesterday, I did have a good opportunity to use just such an oven at my friend's house - we made pumpkin pies and they turned out splendidly:

<a href="http://photobucket.com/" target="_blank"><img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v475/anskov/DSC00001.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting"></a>

<a href="http://photobucket.com/" target="_blank"><img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v475/anskov/DSC00008.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting"></a>

<a href="http://photobucket.com/" target="_blank"><img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v475/anskov/DSC00018.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting"></a>

I also learned a recipe for a type of miso sauce with yuzu to put on cooked daikon - it was amazing.

Cheers! And again thanks for the ideas.

Matthew

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  • 2 weeks later...

A word of warning on the micro/convection oven. Don't try to roast a bird on the convection feature unless you are into major clean-up. I roasted some skin-on chicken breasts in mine and it made a terrific mess.

I love it for baking potatoes, making biscuits (the best), and some casseroles but nothing that will spatter.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Do any of the hotels do a Thanksgiving buffet or set menu? I'm thinking of looking elsewhere for my Thanksgiving fix rather than trying to recreate it myself.

This week's Metropolis has a list of restaurants offering Thanksgiving dinners. My husband and I will probably be going to the Hilton lunch buffet.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Ooops! Forgot the link. The Metropolis Thanksgiving list is here.

Thanks, Thelobster. Yup, the Hilton's buffet is more expensive, but it includes coffee or tea. So factoring in drinks it may be cheaper than Roti or Beacon.

I've actually been to one of the Hilton's lunch buffets before and was impressed. Pricey but totally worth the money. I think Roti is a bit over-rated, and I really hate the service there.

So with the fancy hotel-style service and live jazz (I can do without the wandering magician, though!) I think I'll shell out the extra few hundred extra yen and go to the Hilton.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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  • 3 weeks later...
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