Last year around this time I had forgotten completely that it was Thanksgiving. That was simple to do since Thanksgiving is not celebrated in France. The interesting thing that I did learn was that Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United Kingdom. By some, not all! This year, I have decided to create a French-style thanksgiving for my children. The menu will be slightly different but delicious nonetheless.
Now, I did not come to a home where we actually celebrated Thanksgiving. Again I am French. I didn’t start eating or celebrating Thanksgiving until my first year of college. Oh, and there was that one time when my mom took a stab at it out of curiosity.
It wasn’t until I was dating and eventually married my husband that I began to regularly celebrate Thanksgiving. Each year the menu was the same, turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, gravy, stuffing, and of course cranberry sauce.
After my mother-in-law passed I inherited the Thanksgiving duties, and now that I am living in France my sister-in-law took over. Alas, I’m here in France and thus I am the only one to cook. Don’t get me wrong I am a bit excited!
Thanksgiving in France
Turkeys can be found in France, but traditionally they are not eaten until Christmas with chestnuts. When deciding on my menu I opted to make a roast chicken, pretty much the same way I would make my turkey. With butter coins packed with sage, thyme, and rosemary.
Psst: Using some of your leftover turkey you can recreate our Homemade Chicken Soup recipe.
As for the rest of the side items I’m going to have to be a bit more creative.
It is no secret that the fridges are a bit small in Europe, and having said that most items are also either fresh or you have to make them yourself.
This is not a problem.
However, sometimes the American in me wants everything at her fingertips and wants to pack her fridge up with copious amounts of food.
That need is prevented by the lack of available times I normally get at the store. In fact, I had to adjust to the grocery stores, except for the supermarkets out of the city center, which is quite small.
The French do love their pumpkins! And you find them everywhere. Sometimes even cut up for you. I’m gonna toot my own horn and tell you I’ve gotten pretty good at pumpkin puree, and pie crust is simple enough. If I feel lazy enough I’ll just get puff pastry and create hand pies.
How this holiday will be celebrated
I am planning on keeping this holiday celebration as simple as I can. Especially with all the homemade cooking, I’ll be doing. If I get lucky and find canned items I will be delighted that there is one less thing I have to prep and cook.
Once my husband arrives, I will make sure that all of his favorite items will be prepared, after all this is his favorite time of the year, and I do love channeling my inner Donna Reed.
Keep reading for your free download!
The Ulitmate Thanksgiving Menu
Chicken-cooked at 190 degrees Celcius
1lbs of butter, chilled with a tablespoon of each finely chopped fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary.
Depending on the weight of your turkey, or chicken will factor in how long you will cook your bird. When I cooked my turkey in the states I only cooked it for 1 hour and 45 min. With 30 rest time. After I took over the Thanksgiving duties I did a lot of research and discovered we cook our turkeys for too long and we rely heavily on the little popper thing that is to indicate the bird is done. Leaving us with a dry bird. Nigella Lawson is a great source for learning how to cook a turkey. Her book Nigella Christmas gave me quite the education!
This year with my chicken I will roast that bad boy the way my adopted mother Nigella taught me, at 190 degrees Celcius for about 1hr and 30 mins.
Turkey cooking times if you choose to make a turkey and not a chicken!
Weight of Bird: Cooking Time
5lb : 1 ½ hours, 8lb : 1 ¾ hours, 10lb : 2 hours, 2lb : 2 ½ hours, 15lb : 2 ¾ hours, 7lb : 3 hours, 20lb : 3 ½ hours, 25lb : 4 ½ hours
Mashed potatoes with cream. While France has three types of milk, full fat-low fat- and cream- one has to be creative. Of course, this is home to crème fraîche, so….in place of sour cream, I will be using crème fraîche. I’ll use 1/2 a pound of potatoes, 1/2 stick of butter, or a bit more. I like my mashed potatoes to be buttery and then I’ll add about 1/8th of a cup of crème fraîche. Season with salt and pepper. Delicious!
Homemade Green Bean Casserole-I have made mushroom soup from scratch before. I was two months pregnant and hysterical while making it. My anxiety was all over the place, and I had a neck and headache, but it came out delicious. Fresh green beans, butter, onions, fresh mushrooms, cream.
For the cream of mushroom, you will need a few things; 8 oz of mushrooms. I like shitake but you can use button mushrooms, 1-2 tablespoons of butter, 4 tablespoons of flour, 1 cup of chicken broth, and 1 cup of cream.
Cook the fresh green beans in some hot water, stick them in a cool water bath to cool them down. Combine the cooked green beans with the cream of mushroom. I am happy to say that I have access to fried onions! But feel free to make your own. Cook in the oven for about 30 min.
Classic Stuffing- 1 green apple or pink lady if you want it a bit sweet, 2 stalks of celery, 1lb of butter, 1 tablespoon of both thyme, and sage, innards of the chicken, 1 -1 /2 cups of chicken broth, 1 finely chopped onion, and a day old baguette cut up into cubes. Soften the celery, apple, and herbs in the butter. While they are softening warm up the chicken broth with the innards of the chicken. (You will not add the innards into the stuffing, you are just getting the flavor.
Once softened mix the onion mixture with the bread then add the chicken broth. You want it moist but not so moist that it is soggy and gross. Cook for 30 minutes in the oven or slow cooker if you have one!
Homemade cranberry sauce-(inspired by Nigella Lawson) As a die-hard fan of the jelly stuff in the can. I have learned how to make the homemade sauce and it is delicious. Especially when you add orange, cinnamon, and cranberry juice.
12 ozs of cranberries, 1 cup of sugar, or like me I use 1 cup of maple syrup, 3 tbsps of cranberry juice, and 1/3 cup of water. I will confess I did take inspiration from Nigella’s Redder Than Red Cranberry sauce, you will see I changed a few things to make it my own, and also I didn’t like the addition of brandy.
Get excited because I have a download for you! All these recipes can be found in our small PDF download for you to try. Please do comment below on how everything turned out!