How to Have a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Feast

Lynn Cline - October 30, 2018

Here's what a few Santa Fe restaurants have planned for Thanksgiving

America's biggest feast day is just around the corner, taking place this year on Thursday, November 22. Not to put any pressure on anybody, but it's a lot closer than you think.

Let's take a moment to analyze this momentous meal for the facts, gathered from numerous sources, are slightly staggering. Each year, Americans cook more than 46 million Thanksgiving turkeys along with some 50 million pumpkin pies. About 28% of us serve this meal to more than a dozen guests. And while many of us spend seven or so hours preparing the feast, it's gobbled up in 16 minutes, on average.

If these statistics are making your head spin and your palms sweat, fear not. Help is at hand. Celebrated Santa Fe restaurants stand ready to make your Thanksgiving a breeze. Instead of trying to thaw out the turkey in the bathtub, rescue a failed pie crust , mash mealy potatoes or deal with a clogged kitchen sink (Thanksgiving is a plumber's busiest day of the year), make reservations!You'll enjoy a delicious stress-free dinner without all the hassle or piles of dishes to clean.

Below are just a few suggestions for restaurants serving Thanksgiving meals this year, offering something for everyone. Their menus are stuffed with an ample selection of appetizers, entrees and sides and you'll likely leave with leftovers to last you a few days.

Be sure to make your reservations now, as Thanksgiving tables at these popular restaurants will fill up quickly.

James Beard Award-winning Chef Mark Kiffin of The Compound has created a mouth-watering menu celebrating local ingredients, including turkeys from Embudo Farms that are brined for 48 hours then roasted on Thanksgiving morn. The menu's first course options include a rich Roasted Fall Pear & Parsnip Soup with foie gras flan and caramelized pear and almond tuile. You could also try a zesty Roasted Fall Beet Salad with Humboldt Fog goat cheese, horseradish and sour orange vinaigrette, dark rye toasts and candied walnuts.

Moving on to the main course, those roasted Emubdo Farms organic turkeys are served with elegant sides—autumn root vegetables and Spanish chorizo stuffing, Yukon mashed potatoes, cranberry-orange relish and caramelized onion-giblet gravy. Or, choose an Allspice-Brined Pork Chop accompanied by grain mustard spaetzle with grilled broccolini and chile flake, bacon apple jam and smoked ham hock jus. The Slow-Braised Lamb Shank is served with burnt eggplant hummus, buttered curry carrots and celery leaf-sumac salad, and braising reduction. Seafood lovers might like to feast on Organic Scottish Salmon with lobster and leek carnaroli risotto and brandied lobster cream sauce.

Dessert options are plentiful, but traditionalists will love The Compound's take on pumpkin pie, tweaked with coconut and hot buttered rum sauce. The Granny Smith Apple Napoleon sounds equally divine, made wit phyllo pastry, apple mousse, walnut praline and salted caramel sauce.

For the chocoholic, the Dark Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse Pyramid with blood orange reduction and Madeira ice cream will do the trick.

Geronimo's acclaimed global eclectic fare, under the helm of Executive Chef Sllin Cruz, translates into an elegant Thanksgiving feast, starting with San Francisco Style Cioppino, brimming with mussels, clams, shrimp and polenta croutons in a shell-tomato broth. Other first course options include Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Sashimi & Tartare with buttermilk-scallion pancakes, wasabi aioli, avocado, soy lime syrup and caviar; and House-Made Potato Gnocchi wit lobster, green peas, sweet corn and a lobster-butter sauce.

The traditional centerpiece here is a Roasted Brown Butter, Sage & Maple Basted Amish Turkey with delectable sides—chestnut, apple and bacon-sausage dressing; mushroom-green bean casserole with fried onions; sour cream-whipped potatoes; pinon-cajeta yam custard with house-made toasted meringue; amarena cherry-cranberry relish; and giblet gravy. But there's much more to choose from, including Grilled Native American Ribeye with scalloped potatoes, charred brocollini, foie gras, hollandaise and glazed viande; and Green Miso Sea Bass with bok choy, scallions, ramen noodles, truffle essence, lobster miso and citron rouille.

Dessert options aren't yet available, as the pastry chef is still working on the menu, so you'll have to be surprised by the scrumptious selections when you're there.

At the venerable Coyote Cafe, Chef Eduardo Rodriguez has assembled a three-course menu, with starters that include Roasted Corn Soup with chicken and green chile meatballs, blue corn tortilla and poblano foam; Maine Lobster Bisque with sweet corn, white asparagus and sourdough points; and Hudson Valley Foie Gras with roasted acorn squash, sugar-poached stone fruit and mache salad.

Entrees include Sage & Brown Sugar-Glazed Organic Amish Turkey with all the trimmings—Italian sausage bread pudding, cranberry and pear relish, green bean and mushroom casserole, creamy potatoes, carrots Vichy, pecan yams and giblet and porcini gravy. Or, indulge in other entree options—Tellicherry Peppered Elk Tenderloin, Duroc-Braised Pork Osso Buco, Butter Sous Vide Maine Lobster and Vegetarian Wellington.

Here, too, the dessert menu was unavailable for this write-up, as it was still a work-in-progress at press time.

For a truly unique Thanksgiving experience, dine at the Drury Plaza Hotel's Eloisa, where renowned Chef John Rivera Sedlar has crafted a feast honoring Georgia O'Keeffe, who celebrated the holiday in her Abiquiu home. The iconic artist kept a garden filled with herbs, which she dried, and fruit trees, whose apricots and apples she preserved in Mason jars. She incorporated these ingredients in her Thanksgiving meal, along with summer beets from her garden, Wisconsin cheese sent by her sister from their native state and other ingredients that she loved.

Sedlar's menu includes some of these ingredients as well as dishes that his aunt prepared for O'Keeffe and her guests in Abiquiu. Start with apricot muffins and Ghost Ranch Corn Soup with green chile and heirloom popcorn or Plaza Blanca Watercress Salad with green beans, almonds, mint and a spicy Moroccan lemon dressing. Entrees include Abiquiu Classic Turkey served with mushroom gravy, kale and dandelion greens; and Christ in the Desert Monastery Salmon Steak with brown rice, raisins, turmeric and pistachios.

Creative desserts include a Warm Velarde Apple Tart with Calvados crème, or Mole Ice Cream wit sesame seed, fried sage and pink pepperberry.