GOOD TO GO

and no one need know

text by Sara Robertson and Brandi Walsh

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner is a joy to some and a daunting task for most. Preparing a meal for a large group is a time-intensive project, requiring precision-like choreography in both planning and execution. Add the holiday into the mix and the pressures for perfection compounds the experience. 

Who doesn’t have romantic notions of a Normal Rockwell Thanksgiving? You know the one: all of your extended family and closest friends line an impossibly long table wearing their Sunday best, admiring the perfect table setting with corncob crafts and a cornucopia you’ve handcrafted with nothing more than a few fall leaves and a glue gun. They sit salivating, waiting in patient anticipation for you to present the most perfectly roasted caramel-colored turkey. Applause fills the room as a veritable parade of sides dishes displayed with garnishes so ornate that it almost seems a shame to serve them. Just when they think they’ve seen it all and could not possibly eat even one more bite, dessert graces their plates. Their cherub faces delight in the assortment of homemade pies and cakes waiting to be devoured with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Alas, far and few among us are such real-life Martha Stewarts possessing the culinary abilities and kitchen staff capable to accomplish such a feat. Yet do not despair my friends, some of the Valley’s most talented Chefs are offering sweet and savory solutions to this year’s holiday dinner dilemmas.

La Grande Orange

www.lagrandeorangegrocery.com

 

The motto “Food is Love” encapsulates all that comes from the kitchens of La Grande Orange Grocery, a.k.a. LGO, located at 40th Street and Campbell Avenue in Phoenix. Not your typical market, shoppers won’t find paper towels or end caps full of canned goods. On the contrary, La Grande is a boutique grocer stocked with gourmet items and a pastry case to die for.

For a homemade holiday feast to-go, LGO offers main dishes, sweets and sides that will challenge even the most discriminating eaters. For Thanksgiving choose from fresh (never frozen), free range from Red Bird Farm, fully roasted, ready to serve whole turkeys and half or LGO reserve rotisserie prime rib that’s seasoned, seared and served with au jus and horseradish. Family style sides include seasonal traditions such as green bean casserole, creamy mashed potatoes, sourdough and cornbread stuffing and cranberry sauce with orange marmalade and walnuts. Even turkey pan drippings made with cream and chicken stock are available by the pint.

The winter holidays would be a bore if your guests expected the -same-old, same-old so LGO mixes things up and offers sides like the Spinach & Apple Salad, Roasted Acorn Squash with cinnamon butter and toasted pistachios and Scallop Potatoes made with a reggiano cream sauce to pair with a certified Angus beef prime rib.

Dessert is, of course, on the menu. The LGO bakeshop offers Thanksgiving desserts like Cole’s Famous “Can Free” Pumpkin Pie and Deep Dish Bourbon Pecan Pie. Signature sweets like Red Velvet Layer Cake, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chelsea’s Kitchen Key Lime Pie and Olive Oil Cake, a dense golden confection scented with orange and toasted anise, as well as holiday inspired cupcakes and cookies are available.

LGO’s Grateful Spoon Gelato will be scooping holiday flavors as well including spiced rum, cranberry walnut creamsicle and maple glazed pumpkin available by the pint to take home.

Arcadia Farms

www.arcadiafarmscafe.co

Carolyn Ellis first opened Arcadia Farms in 1990 as a small carryout market and bakery. Now, 17 years later, Arcadia Farms Café has evolved into a favorite dining spot as well as a well-respected custom catering source.

With a fresh take on American classics, all Arcadia Farms recipes use only wholesome, organic and, whenever possible, local products. Simplify your holiday entertaining by ordering from a selection of homemade appetizers, soups, salads, entrées and desserts.

As your guests arrive and mingle, begin the festivities with a caramelized wheel of brie and granny smith apples or a smoked salmon cheesecake, both served with baguette slices. Then settle in at the table with two dishes crafted to match flavors that celebrate the season: butternut squash soup, followed by a grilled pear salad with dried cranberries, roasted walnuts, Maytag blue cheese on a bed of field greens, drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette.

Both oven roasted turkey breast (10-16 pounds) and  country glazed spiral ham (6-7 pounds) are priced by weight. The variety of holiday sides is extensive and includes homemade gravy, cranberry relish, green beans with toasted almonds, Brussel spouts with bacon, layered sweet potato gratin, cornbread tamale or apple sage stuffing , creamy mashed potatoes and freshly-baked dinner rolls.

Delicious desserts include an assortment of pies: Harvest Pumpkin, Old-Fashioned Apple Crumb, Southern Pecan, Chocolate Pecan and Lemon Chess. Four decadent cakes will complete the feast on a sweet note: Tuxedo, Carrot, Chocolate Raspberry and Coconut Cream.

Vincent’s on Camelback

www.vincentsoncamelback.com

Each year James Beard Award winning Chef Vincent Guerithault cooks up traditional American Thanksgiving dinner with a French twist. Orders include delicious desserts as well as sides and full meals available for take-away.

For the holiday, Guerithault suggests the roast turkey with sage or cornbread dressing and Gratin Dauphinois Potatoes. Meals also include seasonal staples such as sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, gravy, cranberry relish, herb rolls and croissants, and pecan, pumpkin or apple pie with a dollop of Kahlua whipped cream.

Searching for just the sides? Vincent offers a selection of inspired salads including a Wild Rice and Corn and an Anasazi Bean salad. Soups available by the serving include Spicy Corn, Wild Mushroom, Roast Vegetable, Acorn Squash and Black Bean.

Alternative mains include Beef Tenderloin with Peppercorn Sauce, Pork Tenderloin with Port Wine Sauce, Honey Glazed Ham and Goose Confit, to name a few.

In true Vincent fashion, southwest specialties are served to go, and what would the holidays be without tamales? These savory bundles are stuffed with no ordinary ingredients. Expect flavors like mole, duck, shrimp and ratatouille.

Cakes, pies and specialty pastries sweeten the season and nobody does dessert like the French.  Order Vincent’s famed Flourless Chocolate Cake, croissants, Cinnamon Raisin or Cranberry and White Chocolate Bread Pudding or an assortment of pies in selections such as Lemon Meringue, Mixed Berry, Chocolate Pecan or “Jack Daniel’s Pecan.”  Specially prepared Kahlua whipped cream and vanilla bean sauce are available to top off the pies and cakes.

Restaurant favorites and specials requests are often available. And, just so you get it right, dinners will be packaged to-go with reheating instructions.