How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving from How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving
How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving
How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving
We’ve read the statistics. Roughly a third of the food produced for consumption is wasted every year. According to the NRDC, the U.S. is holding steady — above the world average — tossing almost 40 percent of food produced each year. That’s a lot of food, especially considering the U.S. is one of the largest producers in the world of staple foods like corn, wheat, and soybeans.
[slideshow:]Before you rush off to the store with your pages long list, take a quick inventory of what you already have. Note that “best by” dates are often a guideline, especially when it comes to canned goods, like that leftover canned pumpkin from last year.
Then, as you plan your menu consider how your dishes will fit together. Maybe you don’t like potato peels in your creamy mashed potatoes that you pathologically run through a ricer to ensure there are absolutely no lumps (we are with you on this one), but perhaps there is a use for those peels in another dish.
Try to get a firm head count. Wrangling RSVPs from guests can feel a lot like herding cattle, but the more certain you are of a number, the better you can plan portions, so you don’t over-shop, and end up with two pounds when one will do.
For the completely unavoidable scraps, consider starting a compost pile in your yard. Don’t have a yard? You can compost in your freezer.
When planning your menu, think of appetizers that will coordinate with the rest of the meal and how you can repurpose food waste for other dishes or leftovers. Keep appetizers simple, so as not to stuff your guests before the meal. You will only need one or two things to snack on depending upon the size of your party.
Chicken Liver Mousse
We save the chicken livers in the freezer every time we roast a chicken just for this special, rich, and decadent Chicken Liver Mousse treat, but that’s just us. If you need to buy them, your local butcher can help you out. Serve this mousse on crust-less toast points, and save the crusts for an easy, breakfast French Toast Strata.
Thanksgiving sides can get pretty out of hand, especially if Aunt Sue will be crushed if you don’t serve sweet potato casserole, but everyone else waits all year for creamy mashed potatoes, when you know you also need to make stuffing. Check out our picks for three side dishes — roasted vegetables, potatoes, and stuffing included — that minimize your food waste.
We love the Slow-Roasted Radishes for fall, and of course, you can throw some carrots in there, too. The subtle spicy end notes of the radishes are mellowed by a hint of caramelized maple syrup. Don’t toss the radish tops, save those for this simple Radish Top Soup, or use the tender greens for a Whole Leaf Radish and Herb Salad.
When looking through your pantry before the holidays, account for any bread you might have. Stale bread is perfect for stuffing because the bread works like a sponge absorbing the turkey or chicken stock. Check out this recipe for a classic Brioche Stuffing. Save any crusts or crumbs for a Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread Pudding.
We can’t get enough of this butterflied Brined and Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey recipe. It takes less time to cook than a traditional stuffed turkey and by cooking the legs separate from the breasts, you ensure that each cut is cooked perfectly without becoming dry.
Save the giblets for a rich and delicious Giblet Gravy to serve alongside your Thanksgiving turkey, but you aren’t done just yet. Once you have carved all you can eat from your bird, save the leftovers and use the bones to make a flavorful Turkey Stock along with any leftover herbs or vegetables.
Serve crostata instead of a traditional pie, and leave the apple skins on this time. Vegetable and fruit skins are extremely healthy, so you can feel good about serving something with some nutritional value. Plus, these apples are cooked down to a soft stew, so the skins won’t be chewy. To test out this simple dessert try this recipe for an Apple Crostata with an Oat Crumble Topping, and remember to save any leftover oats from the topping for a healthy oatmeal breakfast.