As you've probably heard, this holiday season includes the once-in-a-lifetime convergence of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah, an occasion more popularly known as Thanksgivukkah. Cooks all over the country are embracing the opportunity to mix the traditional foods of two holidays on one table, and this week we are sharing Thanksgivukkah recipes and ideas from our favorite chefs and cookbook authors.
Today kosher chef and cooking instructor Kim Kushner, author of The Modern Menu, shares her fresh and vibrant holiday menu, including a no-stress recipe for turkey braised with pumpkin, figs and honey. (It will make your kitchen smell amazing!)
What will you be serving at your Thanksgivukkah meal?
I like to serve all meals family-style. That means big bowls and platters passed around my table, serving each other’s plates, and lots of “Can you pass the…?” This was a way of eating that I experienced throughout my childhood, and I love how comfortable it can make everyone feel.
My favorite way to start the meal is with a great salad: this year I’m making Kohlrabi and Cabbage Salad with Maple Lemon Dressing, from The Modern Menu. It’s a big bowl of crisp shredded kohlrabi, which has the texture of an apple. It’s paired with shredded cabbage, dried cherries, sunflower seeds, dill, and then topped with a sweet-tart maple lemon dressing. This salad offers lots of flavor and texture, which is a great way to start.
For the main course, I'm preparing a blow-your-mind turkey dish: Turkey with Pumpkin, Figs and Honey. I love it because it’s so rich and delicious.
I go crazy with the sides — they really are the stars of the show, in my opinion! Here's what I'm making this year:
- Easy Latkes: These are a must at Thanksgivukkah, and this recipe couldn’t make it easier.
- Zucchini Noodle Kugel (from The Modern Menu): This isn’t your bubbie's kugel — it’s a kugel with a modern twist, perfect for this meal.
- Sesame Vegetables (from The Modern Menu): You need string beans on Thanksgiving, right? Well, these aren't your typical beans. Served in a spicy peanut sauce, they're mouth-watering.
- Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini (from The Modern Menu): Crunchy roasted cauliflower drizzled with rich, nutty tahini and studded with jeweled pomegranate seeds.
- Individual Decomposed S'mores: This recipe really needs no explanation — it will blow your guests' minds, I promise.
- Fig Biscotti (from The Modern Menu) People from all over the globe have booked cooking classes with me just for this recipe — tried and true, a staple in my cookie jar.
Which dish are you most excited about and why?
I'm excited about the Turkey with Pumpkin, Figs and Honey. I usually make this recipe using chicken and people faint over it. The combination of pumpkin, figs, red wine and caramelized onions is succulent, divine, rich and modern. The fragrance of the rosemary and thyme toasting up in the onions will blow your mind! It tastes like winter. Only better. Plus this recipe calls for red wine — which means once you pop open the bottle to cook, you might as well pour yourself a glass, and make the cooking process even more enjoyable. This main dish is easy to prepare, but at the same time, so sophisticated and layered with flavors. It melts in your mouth.
Do you have any advice for planning a memorable Thanksgivukkah meal?
There is no rulebook to Thanksgiving or Hanukkah! No one says you must cook an entire turkey or hand-grate the potatoes for the latkes. My cooking students often tell me about cooking recipes that stress them up to the point that they can't even sleep the night before! That is not what cooking should be about. You are the boss in your kitchen. Decide what works for you and don't over-think it. It's really okay to stick to recipes that are tried and true, but at the same time, taking a chance or two in the kitchen can definitely pay off. (I'm talking about the Decomposed S'mores — if you are going to try one new thing this Thanksgivukkah, try this one).
Turkey with Pumpkin, Figs and Honey
From The Modern Menu by Kim Kushner (Gefen Publishing House, 2013). Photos by Andrew Zuckerman.
If you’re not up for stressing out and cooking an entire turkey, this is the recipe for you. Braising a turkey breast alongside a few turkey drumsticks in a velvety sauce made of pumpkin, red wine and figs is an easy, but sophisticated approach to Thanksgivukkah. You won’t need to worry about hours of cooking time, and you can ditch the meat thermometer. You will know this succulent dish is ready to go when the aroma begins to blow your mind, and the turkey meat starts falling off the bone. A modern way to cook turkey!
2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (about 2 pounds each)
2 turkey drumsticks, skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large yellow onions, peeled
2 garlic cloves
Leaves from 2 rosemary sprigs
6 thyme sprigs
15-ounce can plain pumpkin puree
1 cup dried mission figlets or 2 cups fresh figs, stemmed
2 cinnamon sticks, cracked
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 1/4 cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted slivered almonds
Season the turkey pieces with salt and pepper and set aside. In a food processor or by hand, chop up the onions, garlic, rosemary and thyme. (Don’t let it get mushy if using the food processor — just a few quick pulses.)
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Push the onions to the side, and add the turkey pieces in batches, and brown for several minutes on all sides.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, the figs, cinnamon, allspice, honey, wine, and water. (This is usually the point where I pour myself a glass of red. Once the bottle is opened, why not?) Pour over the turkey. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The drumstick meat should be falling off the bone when done. Place the turkey pieces on a serving platter. You can let the breast cool before slicing or slice at the table while hot. Spoon the sauce over, and sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top.