Thanksgiving Entrées for Herbivores and Carnivores


This is a vegetarian entrée from The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas (more info under the cook book tab).    It is supposed to serve 6-8 but I double the recipe for 8 people because everyone loves this and goes for seconds and I don’t mind having some leftovers at all.  I have sadly not found a really good way to make this gluten-free.  It’s really tragic because it is so damn good and I miss eating it.  I still make it for everyone else.  Ha!  No longer true!  You can top this cobbler with this gluten-free biscuit recipe. Just put the cheese between the mushroom stew and the biscuit topping instead of inside the biscuits!  You can use butter instead of lard in the biscuits if you like!  Oh my!  It may be time to rewrite and publish this recipe again.  DONE!  new recipe for Mushroom Cobbler at this link.   These days for a gluten free biscuit topping, I use this excellent recipe.  Also, replace the flour in the roux for the white sauce with a bit of the same gluten-free flour mix that you use for the biscuits.  If you are cooking this for someone  who cannot eat gluten, even a couple of tablespoons of regular flour in the sauce will make them sick!

Don’t try to make this without the dry porcini mushrooms.  Dry Porcini are a wee bit expensive, but this dish is quite time consuming, and if you are going to go to the trouble of making it, you should spring for the dry porcini.  The fresh oyster mushrooms are really worth the minor expense if you can get them.  This recipe also calls for fresh porcini mushrooms which are hard to find and prohibitively expensive.  If you can find and afford fresh porcini mushrooms this dish will be one of the best things you have ever tasted.  When I cannot afford fresh porcini mushrooms I substitute with cremini mushrooms.  It is still very, very good.  I am only a little bit ashamed to admit that have on occasion sent someone young and innocent looking to try to buy the fresh porcini mushrooms for the price of Portobello.  And once or twice I may have allowed an uninformed cashier to ring me up for much less expensive wild mushroom.  Since this recipe takes some time, I recommend making the mushroom filling a day ahead and heating it up again the next day before you add the cobbler topping and bake it.

The oyster mushrooms are crucial!

Mushroom Filling

  • 2 pounds red onions peeled, quartered and sliced
  • 2 and 1/2 Tb olive oil
  • 2 and 1/2 Tb butter
  • salt
  • 1 oz dried porcini (also known as cepes)
  • 1/2  lb fresh porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb fresh oyster mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • pinch dry thyme
  • pinch of cayenne
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  1. In a large skillet, heat one Tablespoon of olive oil and one Tablespoon of butter.  Add onions and salt and cook over low heat stirring frequently for one hour.  The onions should become a dark brown, caramelized marmalade.
  2. Meanwhile soak the dry porcini in about a cup and half of very hot water for 30 minutes.  When they are soft, remove them from the liquid, chop them and set aside.  Strain the liquid through a mesh sieve and to remove grit .  Save the mushroom liquid for later.
  3. While the dry mushrooms are softening, clean and slice the fresh mushrooms.  It is best not to run water over mushrooms to clean them.  Mushrooms are designed to absorb liquid.  They will absorb the water along with whatever bacteria you were trying to rinse off.  Wipe the mushrooms with a paper towel instead.
  4. In another very large skillet, heat the remaining butter and oil.  Add the garlic, followed by the mushrooms and salt.
  5. When the mushrooms release their liquid, add the softened, chopped dry mushrooms along with the cayenne, thyme and black pepper.
  6. When the mushrooms begin to sizzle and brown, add the red wine.
  7. When the wine reduces by half, add the strained mushroom soaking liquid.
  8. When the mushroom liquid reduced by half, add the caramelized onions and simmer over low heat while you prepare the white sauce.

White Sauce for  Mushroom Cobbler Filling

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk, heated
  1. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter.  Add the flour and stir over medium heat for three or four minutes or until it becomes golden in colour.
  2. Slowly whisk in the heated milk, taking care to break up any lumps that form.
  3. Stir for several minutes over medium heat until it is thick and silky.
  4. Add the white sauce to the mushrooms.
  5. At this point you can put the mushroom filling away to finish the next day.  Just be sure to heat it up again before continuing with the recipe.
  6. pre-heat the oven to 400.
  7. Spread the mushroom filling into a gratin, souffle or another kind of oven safe casserole dish.

Biscuit Topping for Mushroom Cobbler

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter
  • 1 an 1/3 cups buttermilk
  1. Thoroughly combine dry ingredients and the cheese in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  I use my fingers and work quickly until the butter is the size of small peas.
  3. Add the buttermilk while stirring the batter with a fork.  Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix.
  4. Using a wet Tablespoon, spoon the biscuit topping evenly over the entire top of the mushroom filling
  5. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 or until the biscuit topping is fluffy and starting to turn gold.  (I usually do it at the last minute…after the turkey is done, while the meat is resting).

Serve the Mushroom Cobbler with homemade cranberry chutney or relish


The best cranberry relish I ever had was made by Eric Wright.  I’m sorry, but I don’t have that recipe.  You don’t need a recipe for this.  You can saute some onion (I like to use about 6 shallots) and maybe some hot fresh chili peppers (I use 2 jalapenos).  You can add some cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds (I use about a Tablespoon of each) and cook them for about a minute until they pop. Add about 12 oz of fresh cranberries, 1 or 2 cups of sugar, about a cup of orange juice or apple cider or cranberry juice or water (I use the juice from 3 oranges).  I feel strongly about including the entire zest of one or two oranges.  I don’t ever leave that out.  You let the whole thing simmer for a while.  The cranberries start to pop and it gets nice, jammy consistency.  No matter what you do it will be better than the canned stuff.


I usually try to get someone else to do the Turkey.  Our friend Bethany, who has cooked and eaten Thanksgiving dinner with Chris and I for 6 years in a row, pointed out that this was the first year that I cooked the turkey.   I love turkey.  I really love leftover turkey meat, but roasting a turkey takes all day and I have lots of other things that I like to bake.  Also, I find roasting a turkey oddly daunting.  One year I made duck confit from scratch…that didn’t stress me out at all…..but turkeys stress me out.  That said, I made a REALLY good turkey this year.  I am going to write down exactly what I did so I don’t forget.  If all goes well I won’t have to do it myself for another six years….and I will not remember it if I don’t write it down.

It is worth it to buy a fresh (never frozen) organic, free range, heritage turkey.  I’m not trying to be snobby or annoying.  I just think that it is much better to spend your money on a smaller quantity of better meat.  No one needs lots and lots of meat in their diet and no one needs the chemicals that are added to cheap meat.  It is now possible to buy meat that tastes almost as good as the meat that my grandparents raised and butchered themselves.  Why would anyone eat meat that didn’t taste really, really good?

I brined my Turkey this year, which involved rearranging my entire refrigerator and borrowing a giant pot from a neighbor.  It was a pain in the behind….but it was successful.  It was a 14 pound turkey and brining it ould have been impossible, given my space resources if the bird had been any bigger.  I boiled 6 cups of water and added 3/4 cups salt, 1/2 cup sugar, a bunch of sage and a bunch of thyme.  I stirred it until the sugar and salt dissolved.  I rinsed my turkey and removed the neck and giblets (to make into stock).  I placed the turkey and the salty water in a five gallon pot.  I filled the rest of the pot with cold water.  I put it in the fridge over night.

In the morning I pre-heated the oven to 350.  I drained the turkey and patted it dry with towels.  I rubbed it inside and out with the juice from two oranges.  I seasoned it inside and out with salt and pepper.  I chopped up some onions and celery and stuffed the cavity with them.  I placed the turkey, breast up on a roasting rack in a roasting tray.  I put 2 cups of giblet stock in the bottom of the tray.  I pried the skin away from the breast of the turkey and tucked many pats of butter underneath the skin, next to the meat.  I covered the pan lightly with foil and baked the Turkey for an hour and a half.

After an hour and a half,  I removed the foil and freaked out because the bird looked almost totally raw.  I roasted it for two more hours, basting with the pan juices every half hour.  The top of the breast started too brown too quickly at some point, so I made it a foil bikini.  After two hours, the thermometer read 160 degrees but the little plastic thingy had not popped yet and it did not look as brown as I wanted it to, so I cooked it for another half hour.  I let it rest for half an hour before carving it.

This was very, very good turkey.  Full of flavour and super moist.  When I am forced to make my own turkey again I will refer back to this entry and try to do it again!  ****I actually did the turkey again this year.  I was glad that I wrote this down, because it turned out great again!****


I also made this sage and apple cider gravy from a recipe that Bethany’s brother Richard recommended and it is definitely on the permanent Thanksgiving menu from now on. Delicious!

Heat the drippings and juice from the bottom of the turkey roasting pan.  Add a small bunch of fresh sage.  Stir over fairly high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan.  I let it cook down quite a bit until it was dark brown and thick.  Meanwhile dissolve 3 Tablespoons of flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour mix) into one cup of home-made giblet or chicken stock.  Whisk the lumps out of it.  Deglaze the dripping pan with one cup of fresh apple cider (turn up the heat and scrape all of the brown stuff off of the bottom of the pan.  Stir briskly until the pan drippings have combined with the cider.) Pour the flour/stock mixture into the pan in a slow steady stream whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring until it is the desired thickness.  This gravy was sooooooooo good.


21 Comments Add yours

  1. Ieva says:

    For Canadian Thanksgiving this year, (the 2nd Monday of October) I tried your brined turkey recipe – very yummy, moist, succulent.

  2. Gord says:

    It must be near Christmas, looking for turkey. 🙂 Thank goodness there isn’t Canadian Christmas and US Christmas.

    I think one of the rules about brining, is that the food to be brined shall be completely submerged. Stick something heavy on top of the bird to keep it submerged.

    Rubbing all the exposed surfaces with citric acid (disguised as orange juice) is a good idea. My Mom likes oranges, but has problems finding juicy oranges. There is a hybrid of Mandarin oranges and grapefruit called a tangelo, which is juicy. It apparently does not contain the agent that grapefruit does that is a problem with some drugs. It is very juicy. I have used the zest to flavour honey. But, if you were to use juice from tangelos to “clean” the surface, you could have zest from tangelos to either place in the bird or under the skin, or to use for other purposes.

    Sorry I may write strange, too many years of engineering. NW Alberta, Canada.

    1. I am a big fan of using zest as well as juice from citrus. I’ve never tried tangelos for turkey, but I imagine they would work very well. They have such a nice flavour. Thanks for dropping by!


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