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Whatcha' Got Cookin': Turkey Alternatives For A Scaled-Down Thanksgiving

AP Photo/Matthew Mead

This Thanksgiving, as many Americans forego travel due to the pandemic, large gatherings of friends and families will give way to more intimate feasts.

Whether you're cooking for one, two, or ten - today, we're sharing recipes and tips to help make your Thanksgiving dinner a delicious and memorable affair. 

Chefs David Thomasand John Shields are with us once again to talk you through any questions you might have and to share their favorite dishes.


John Shields is a chef and the proprietor of Gertrude's Chesapeake Kitchen, his restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art. His latest book is called The New Chesapeake Kitchen.

Chef David Thomas is the Chef and co-founder with his wife Tonya of The Heirloom Food Group.  He’s the former Executive Chef and owner of Ida B's Table in downtown Baltimore.

Thelma’s Crab and Artichoke Dip  

This rich and satisfying dip recipe is from Baltimore’s Thelma Tunney. It teams blue crabmeat with tender artichoke hearts in a lightly spiced mayonnaise-based sauce and is actually prepared like a casserole. When guests find out Thelma has been invited to a potluck party they are also attending, their mouths start watering in anticipation of this dip. Thelma often serves this dish as an entree baked in individual ramekins accompanied by a fresh garden salad and a hot crusty baguette. When you serve it as a dip, provide plenty of baguette slices or crackers for dipping.

Serves 8 to 10

  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and cut into small pieces
  • 1 pound backfin or special crabmeat, picked over
  • ½ cup chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 6-cup casserole dish.Combine the cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice, cayenne, and black pepper in a large bowl. Stir until well mixed. Gently fold in the artichoke hearts, crabmeat, and parsley. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve at once.

Champagne Cabbage and Apples

Not that I really understand the concept, but some people just do not like sauerkraut—go figure. But I found a solution--a little devious, but a solution nevertheless. And here it is: a braised champagne “kraut,” with ginger, caraway, and a goodly amount of tart apples. The secret is rinsing the sauerkraut well under cold water, and then the kraut naysayers will enjoy a plateful extolling the virtues of cabbage, and, of course, champagne. Honestly, whether you like kraut or not, this dish really is a crowd pleaser.

Serves 8

  • 6 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (optional)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 jars (2 pounds each) sauerkraut, rinsed in cold water several times and drained
  • 2 cups dry champagne
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a heavy ovenproof pot, melt the butter, and if using, render the bacon for a few minutes. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic. Sauté for 4 minutes. Add the apples and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
Place the rinsed sauerkraut into the pot. Pour in the champagne, caraway seed, salt, and pepper. Toss together and bring to a boil. 

Cover tightly and bake in the oven for 1 hour

Emily’s Favorite Black Rock Orchard Apple Pie

  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 10 large tart apples
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup cereal flakes (corn, wheat, or a similar type of cereal)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the flour in a mixing bowl and cut butter in with a pastry cutter, or the tips of your fingers, or in a food processor. If using a food processor, use the pulse feature, taking care to only get a coarse mixture. You don’t want to over process. Beat the egg and the milk together and mix with the flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two pieces and refrigerate.

Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples into a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and mix with the apple slices.

Roll out one ball of dough to fit the bottom and sides of a 12X9-inch Pyrex baking pan. Sprinkle with the cereal flakes, leaving a ½-inch border around the edges of the dough. Spoon the apple mixture over the flakes. Roll out the remaining dough and place over the apples. Seal by pinching the edges together and brush with a little milk to help brown the top of the pie.

Place pie in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Pie may be served warm or cold. Serves 10 to 12.

Adapted from John Shields’ Chesapeake Chef column in Edible Chesapeake Magazine Fall 2008 Edition

Heard on today's show:

The Y of Central Maryland’s annual Turkey Trot Charity 5k is being run virtually this year.  Here’s how it works:  you register for the event on the Y’s website, then you can choose any 3.1-mile route to walk or run. You’ll enjoy getting some good exercise, and you’ll help the Y provide meals and services to folks throughout Central MD.  Visit the Y of Central Maryland's websiteto sign up.  

An Die Musik, the performance venue in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood, is streaming live concerts in real-time.  The artists performing this week have designated a charity to which a portion of the proceeds from concerts will go.  You can find more information at the An die Musik website.  

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